Richard Moore writes from California:
I visited Philip Larkin in 1977 at his office in the
University of Hull Library. He had accepted my visit on the basis of my
being a fellow librarian, but saw through the ruse quickly.
My wife, a fellow English major, but Virginia Woolf fan, asked him the
questions about his poetry that I wanted to ask.
He was gracious, funny, generous, and took us on a tour of
the building, the rebuilding of which he had directed. Videocassette
recorders were brand new then and he showed us the room where students could use
them. He was especially proud of a built-in bookend he designed for
library bookshelves that folded up. Later I took him to pick up his car
from the mechanic.
Update 12 Feb 2006
Poems on the Underground and Larkin
It turns out the the above is not quite correct. Larkin did not originate the idea, and died before the first poem was displayed.
However, "[He] was on the Compton Poetry Fund committee when it approved a grant which enabled us to pay for the first year of advertising spaces on the Underground. He took a special interest in the project and wrote to us with useful suggestions." Poems on the Underground, Cassell, 1992.
Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986. Sets of poems are chosen about three times a year and displayed in advertising spaces within the trains. They include poems from living and dead writers in a wide range of styles and from all over the world.
It was the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, who together with poets Cicely Herbert and Gerard Benson, continues to select the poems. The book, "Poems on the Underground", which contains more than 300 featured poems, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies since it was published in 1999.
A number of Larkin's poems have been included over the years, although none are listed in the Poems on the Underground Archive.
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