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"As if, with belief, we might achieve anything": from doubters to believers

Prior to this season’s emphatic campaign, Liverpool last won a title when I was five years old. Like many, I’m still processing the complex emotions associated with season after season of hope, belief, despair, frustration, vindication and determination that now, finally, have lead to the prize that has so long eluded a club built on winning in the decades leading up to my birth. From the outside, football can be — like so many things — caricatured, misunderstood, and easily dismissed. But it remains a guiding passion for many precisely because its twists and turns, tragedies and euphorias, reflect the human dramas of our own lives. As Bill Shankly quipped: football is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that. No one right now will understand that more than the two Liverpool captains pictured here. Steven Gerrard is a Liverpool legend for so many reasons: his devotion to his boyhood club despite the lure of silverware at other clubs through the 2000s and 20…
Recent posts

A Poet's Guide to the Lockdown

I recently wrote an article for the Boston-based running outfitters Tracksmith:

As a poet who also runs, I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking and writing about the connections between athleticism and art; how both are competitive but ultimately solitary, joyful yet defiant, demanding resolve and routine, but also reflection. So how can poetry, or simply writing creatively, help a runner right now?
You can read it in full on their journal.





Two new poems on Wild Court

Two new poems feature on Wild Court: one after a painting by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, the other after spending a good deal of my life watching too much tennis.

You can read 'The Flower Carrier' and 'The Champion' here.

The Nightingale: TLS Poem of the Week

My poem 'The Nightingale', a loose version after Paul Verlaine (1894-1896), is the Times Literary Supplement's Poem of the Week.
Wilkinson’s quatrains, too, have more room in them for emotional explanation than Verlaine’s terse couplets, which bite off each image and snap shut on any recollection of tenderness.
Read the full introduction by Andrew McCulloch, and the poem, here.

God speed

Duncan Hamilton
FOR THE GLORY
The life of Eric Liddell: from Olympic champion to modern martyr
372pp. Doubleday. £20.


The Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Eric Liddell is a rare example of a consummate sportsperson who transcended sport. Duncan Hamilton’s portrait of one of Britain’s greatest track athletes serves as an important reminder of sport’s true value at a time when athletics is marred by scandal, big money and loss of perspective.

Liddell will be familiar to many through the film Chariots of Fire (1981). He is perhaps better known for the race he refused to run – the 100 metre Olympic heat in Paris, 1924, on the principled grounds that his Christian faith forbade him to compete on the Sabbath – than for the 400 metre final of those same Games, in which he defied the doubters to earn a spectacular win. Born to Scottish missionary parents in China, Liddell had no sporting pedigree. He did, however, study at an English boarding school that forged an indomitable character, before …