Following the path of a poet

I heard about the Larkin Trail a few years ago, when it was first created, but I didn’t think I’d actually explore it myself. When would I ever be in Hull? But then this year I planned to spend some time in London, and Hull was just a 2.5-hour train ride away, so it made sense to go for a few days to follow in the footsteps of my favourite poet, Philip Larkin.

Before leaving the train station, I was greeted by the poet himself. Well, I was greeted by a statue of him, at least (since Larkin died in 1985, it would have been a little creepy if he himself had been there).

statue of Philip Larkin in the Paragon station

statue of Philip Larkin in Paragon station

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Philip Larkin and World Poetry Day

Philip Larkin is one of my all-time favourite poets. So I’m often reading his poems, or quoting him to other people, or trying to find out more about him. But earlier this week—on March 21, to be exact—I had Larkin on my mind more than usual.

One reason is because of World Poetry Day. I didn’t know it until this year, but March 21 was proclaimed World Poetry Day in 1999. After learning this, I thought about some of the poets I admire the most.

The Philip Larkin section from my bookshelf.

I reread a few of my favourite Larkin poems and reminisced about being in university and first encountering his work. I remember the first poem of his I ever read: “Reasons for Attendance.” It was in an introductory poetry class that all English majors had to take.

I went on to enrol in many other poetry classes throughout university. When school ended, my appreciation for Larkin remained. He’s such a skilled formal poet, and…well, his poetry is just so very English (which is a great thing, if you’re an Anglophile like I am).

But Larkin wasn’t only a poet. He was also a novelist, jazz critic and a librarian. I just recently learned that March 21 is not only World Poetry Day, but it’s also the anniversary of Larkin’s first day as a librarian at the University of Hull (he began there in 1955). So from now I’ll probably (quietly) celebrate March 21 as Philip Larkin Day.

People have different tastes. I know poetry isn’t for everyone, and I understand that even those who do enjoy it won’t necessarily be Larkin fans. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with him or his work, I wanted to introduce you to him. Maybe you’ll fall in love the same way I did, or (even better) in a way that is all your own.

Larkin reads “Going, Going”

Larkin reads “Aubade”

Poetry and YouTube

Remember life before YouTube? I do. Things weren’t that much different, but one incident comes to mind. It’s the time I hunted down the audio of one of my favourite poets.

During my university years, I started reading a lot of poetry. But there’s something special about hearing a poet read his or her own work, so I often searched for audio of poets I liked. I had a fair amount of luck with this, finding many recordings of poets on CD or on the internet. But I had difficulty tracking down anything from Philip Larkin.

I asked around, looking for help with my search. I contacted various publishers and stores. In the end, after a lot of time and effort, I came across one audio clip of Larkin reading “Aubade.” A couple of years later, I found out through YouTube that some recordings of Larkin were rediscovered.


It’s pretty awesome that YouTube has made these types of searches easier. Every so often, I’ll spend some time on YouTube searching for clips of poets reading their work. At the same time, the months I spent searching for audio of Larkin makes for a bit of a better story, even if does expose the depths of my nerdiness.

Here are some other poets reading their poems:

Frank O’Hara


Langston Hughes


Mark Strand


Sylvia Plath