Thursday 19 April 1984

Poet Danny Goes On The Air


Warminster poet Danny Howell was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent's Third Floor Show on Wednesday last week.

The 28-year-old herdsman, who lives in The Dene, talked about his anthology, "Scratchbury Hill And Other Poems", and how his involvement with animals and growing things, plus his love of the Wiltshire landscape and archaeology, had given him a philosophical outlook on life.

A former pupil of Frome Grammar School, Danny, who is a bachelor, said: "I am really rather an insular person in that I do keep myself to myself. In my job, I'm basically on my own. I prefer to write about the countryside and the environment I work in and my love of the neighbourhood. Love is not a word I would use lightly. I don't write protest poetry, because I haven't got much to protest about. I'm quite happy with my lot, and I think this comes through in my writing."

Danny was interviewed by Sandie Jones, a fellow-Moonraker who comes from Wootton Bassett, whose family now lives in Trowbridge, and by David Benedictus, Southampton Eastern Library's writer-in-residence.

David said: "I thought his poems were good. They tend to deal with country matters, so it was no surprise to find that he works on a farm. I wrote him a few notes about his poetry and suggested that he should come and have a chat with me. It seemed to me that the Third Floor Show would be poorer without him. He reminds me of A.E. Housman, whose Shropshire Lad was similarly bound to a small part of the countryside and was the result of a solitary spirit."

Confessing to a passion for words, Danny explained: "I love words. I love their sounds, and strumming words together. I particularly like the sounds of some of the rather obscure words, the way they roll off the tongue. It's marvellous to be able to string them together and to put them down on paper. I get a lot of fun from jumbling them around in my head, and at the end of the day coming up with something different. It's a great feeling to be able to write something and then be able to get it across to somebody."

David commented: "I think of all the poets who have visited me or written to me, Danny has a vocabulary which is easily the most extensive, and uses words which one would need to have an ancient Oxford English Dictionary to find. But they are words which ought to be brought back into current usage."

Danny read three poems from his book: "Scratchbury Hill", "October Days In Friggle Fields" and "Last Wish", and presented a signed copy to Sandie.

The Third Floor Show gets its name from Radio Solent's location on the third floor of the old Cunard Building.

Bob Randall, Wiltshire Times And News.