Wednesday, 10 October 2012


High on the Downs: A Festschrift for Harry Guestedited by Tony Lopez and published by Shearsman books on Harry Guest's 80th birthday, was launched in Exeter at the Central Library on Monday 8th October, 7-9pm. The contributors are: Joan Bakewell, Michael Bakewell, Humphrey Burton, Jack Chalkley, Owen Davis, Peter Dent, William I Elliott, Peter Finch, Chris Finn, John Flower, John Ford, Peter France, John Greening, John Hall, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Lee Harwood, Jeremy Hilton, Andrew Houwen, Peter Jay, Peter Josyph, philip kuhn, Ann Leaney, Tony Lopez, Rupert M Loydell, John Mingay, Bob Nash, William Oxley, Alasdair Paterson, Michael Power, Tim Rice, Anthony Rudolf, Lawrence Sail, Deniele Serafini, Martin Sorrell, Peter Southgate, Anne Stevenson, and Chris Ward.
     Harry Guest, born in Penarth in 1932, has had a long and distinguished career as a poet, translator and teacher. He began to be published in the 1960s and Arrangements (1968), was his first book with Anvil Press Poetry, the specialist poetry publishing house run by Peter Jay. He has published twelve collections of poetry and his collected poems A Puzzling Harvest (2002). He worked as a teacher at Felsted School and at Lancing College before taking up a lectureship at Yokohama National University in Japan. He returned to England in 1972 and was Head of French at Exeter School until his retirement in 1991. Apart from his many collections of poetry, he is well-known as a translator from the French, German and Japanese, and his published translations include Post-War Japanese Poetry (with Lynn Guest and Kajima Shozo, 1972), and Victor Hugo: The Distance, The Shadows (1981). He has also published three novels: Days (1978), Lost Pictures (1991), Time After Time (2005). His non fiction writing includes The Artist on the Artist (2000) and a Traveller's Literary Companion to Japan (1994).
     At the launch party there were short readings by the following contributors: Peter Dent, John Hall, Lee Harwood, Jeremy Hilton, Peter Jay, Ann Leaney, Alasdair Paterson, Lawrence Sail, Martin Sorrell, myself and Harry Guest. The title High on the Downs is from Harry Guest's Sixth Elegy; the book cover is based on the painting Harry Guest contemplating the visit to Montepulciano by Exeter artist Bob Nash.

We have lived elsewhere. How otherwise explain
the shock of recognition at the gap in the hedge,
that day high on the downs when the sun led you
to a place you knew though it was your first visit.
Harry Guest, 'The Sixth Elegy'

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