Friday 20 April 1984

The Poet Howell On The Air


Warminster farmworker and charity fundraiser Danny Howell's reputation as a poet, celebrated in these columns at the turn of the year when he ventured into self-publishing, has spread to the Southampton area.

He has found himself a mentor in the shape of Southern Arts writer-in-residence in the city, David Benedictus, and last week they broadcast together on a fortnightly writer's workshop programme called The Third Floor Show.

Mr. Benedictus explained the background to the partnership: "I was sitting in the library when this handsomely produced book of poems arrived with a handsomely produced covering letter, and I thought they were terribly good. They tend to deal with country matters so it was no great surprise to find out that Danny works as a farmer. I wrote him a few notes about poetry and suggested that he should come and have a chat with me, which he did, and it seemed to me that The Third Floor Show would be poorer without him."

"With Danny I am reminded of A.E. Housman and his Shropshire Lad series which similarly were bound to a small part of the countryside and were the result of a solitary spirit. I think of all the poets that have visited me or written to me, Danny's vocabulary is easily the most extensive. He uses words which one would need to have a very ancient and extensive Oxford English Dictionary to find; but they are words which ought to be brought back into current usage."

Mr. Howell, who read three poems from his book, "Scratchbury Hill And Other Poems," said: "I love words. I love the sounds, the way of strumming words together. To me it's a love of its own really. I also like the sounds of some of the rather obscure words, the way they roll off the tongue, and it's marvellous to be able to string them together and to put them down on paper and it's a great feeling to be able to write something and then be able to get it across to somebody."

Mr. Howell's next adventure is likely to be a reading at Southampton's Tudor Merchants Hall. All unpublished poets, take heart.

Kevin Mount, The Warminster Journal, Friday 20 April 1984.