The 8th of January next is the one hundreth anniversary of the birth of the Cumberland Poet Norman Nicholson.

This quiet and gentle man, who talked about being unable to command attention by the vibrancy of his presentation or subject matter, but instead depended upon the ‘undeadened ear’, lit with the ‘grace’ of listening, chronicled the evolution – I shan’t use the word decline – of Millon from an industrial to a post-industrial town. He wrote about the return of nature to the slag heaps and the waterways, about the reappearance of views over the Lake District fells where once only the tall trees of brick chimneys and their clouds of smoke had been visible. He wrote about the people who worked and died in the pits and in the ironworks and on the railways.

It’s thirty years now since his death, and his writing has spawned no mass movement of faux-Nicholson copies – Wordsworth, tragically, spawned generations of poets who churned out a doggerel that thought it was graven in his image – yet for poets of my age, and younger, Nicholson was a master and a model: not one to be slavishly followed, but one from whom we could learn, about tone, and technique, and the timbre of authenticity.

On the centenary of his birth, poet Mary Robinson, and myself will be presenting a celebration of his work. At the Wordsworth Bookshop in Penrith, on wednesday 8th January, 2014, the event will be free, but places are limited so please book in advance, by contacting the bookshop direct (tel: 01768 210604  E: info@wordsworthbookshop.co.uk).

Mary and I will be reading from our own work, and I’ll be sharing some recordings Norman made for me four decades ago, at his home in St.George’s Terrace Millom, along with some reminiscences of my few meetings with him.  A good date to make, in the post Christmas quiet I think.