David Agnew (1944-2018) was born in Northern Ireland, and went on to live in Leeds and Whitby. His acclaimed first collection of poetry Walking into Eternity (Flux Gallery Press, 2006) was followed by the book-length prose poem First I Dreamt the Journey (2008) and Belfast via Bedlam (2010). 2012 saw the publication of a collection with Valley Press, There Are No Such Things As Seagulls, which collected poems written on visits to Whitby whilst still living in Leeds.
This collection of poetry by Leeds-based, Belfast-raised writer David Agnew is focused on neither of those cities – instead, it is an offering of sixty poems inspired by, about, or written in the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby. The poet's regular visits to the town, escaping the day-to-day pressures of life, have created the perfect mindset for contentment and creativity, and There Are No Such Things As Seagulls collects this sequence of work for the first time.
Reading this book is probably the closest you can get to the experience of visiting Whitby without actually going; David uses his poems to document the minutiae of moments in a day, reflecting the leisurely pace of life which can be achieved in a seaside town. Readers will find David sitting on the pier, walking on the cliffs, enjoying numerous cups of tea (and the occasional cigarette), people-watching with an excellent line in non-judgmental observation, and seagull-watching with sympathy for their cause (along with a healthy awareness of their complete non-existence, as explained in the closing poem.)
This unhurried, uncontrived approach leads David's writing to occupy the unlikely middle ground between Wallace Stevens and Paul Durcan (who gets a mention). In the summer months, this book will be a perfect accompaniment to any seaside-relaxing you might do – and in the winter months, a helpful reminder that it won't be long before summer comes round again.
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