In his Foreword to A Rumoured City: New Poets from Hull (Bloodaxe, 1982), Philip Larkin states that Hull is “as good a place to write as any”; and, further, that it is “Better, in fact, than some. For a place cannot produce poems: it can only not prevent them”. This is hardly a resounding endorsement of the city (the same could be said to apply to all cities); but it is, nonetheless, true.
Artistic inspiration can, evidently, be found in all places, and in all things: but not by all artists in the same things nor, indeed, the same places. Larkin took his inspiration from the temporal: advertising hoardings, photographs, posters, paintings, TV programmes; and from far more significant philosophical and spiritual concerns, such as existence, love, the ageing process and extinction. However, what distinguishes great artists is the art they produce, and not what inspires them to produce it.
As part of the 2010 programme to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Philip Larkin, the songwriters whose work features on this recording were each asked to take as their inspiration a Philip Larkin poem, and to create from it a musical setting or interpretation. The contributors rate among the best contemporary songwriters working in (or associated with) this city; the place where Larkin chose to spend the last 30 years of his life. These are their songs: they speak for themselves.
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Discover more about the contributors