The excellent and industrious Philip Rush, poet and poetry impresario in the lovely town of Stroud, has organised an evening in celebration of George Barker, one of the 20th century's most prolific and eccentric poets, now chiefly known to posterity through Robert Fraser's biography. A rebel, womaniser and serious drinker, Barker was a contemporary of Dylan Thomas, but had much longer to hone the lifestyle. Reading about all of that is great, voyeuristic fun, of course. That's how we like to imagine our poets - 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', like Byron.
But Barker was also an experimenter and a fine technician who took the vocation of poet passionately and seriously. His work is so multifarious that it will be intriguing to see which poems the readers taking part in this event will choose to perform alongside their own work. I am still in the process of deciding myself, but am discovering many good things along the way. Let's hope this event, and Barker's centenary more generally, lead to a reappraisal of the work, and a little less concentration on the personal life of the poet.