About Tim Lenton

Image for Tim Lenton

Tim Lenton has written poetry most of his life, but also writes journalism, drama, prose fiction and song lyrics. He was born in 1945 in Norwich, where he now lives, but he has also lived in Coventry and London, as well as the Norfolk village of Yelverton. He is married to a retired head teacher and has an adult son and two grandchildren. He has published a book of poems, Mist and Fire, and for 11 years up to 2008 wrote a semi–humorous commentary column in the Eastern Daily Press, which is a daily paper published in the east of England.

He has a website containing these articles and a number of poems at www.back2sq1.co.uk.

He has collaborated especially with artist Annette Rolston (but also other artists) for various exhibitions and workshops, notably the Creative Arts East summer touring exhibition of 2003 and the Norwich Festival Fringe at the Factory exhibition in 2004 and 2005, as well as Open Studios in 2007. He is the winner of the Fish International Poetry Prize for 2007 and the Norwich Writers' Circle Open Competition for 2010. He contributed poems to The Pastons' Country handmade book (2008) and to its smaller sequel, Another Country (2011)

Tim can be contacted at timlenton@mac.com.

Syleham Light

Posted by Tim Lenton on 21 September 2011 at 23:04 in Poetry

Tags: waveney and blyth

Syleham View image

At Syleham bridge
light from nowhere paints
abstracts on the tree-lined river:
modern art on ancient canvas

A ladder leads into troubled water
and an empty bench waits for the right man
or woman

Not quite angel country
but rumours of a dove persist
somewhere upstream

and the bright white walls of
Tollbridge Cottage
stand sentry for free

as needles weave summer
into patchwork veins
and the usual suspects
pretend to leave

Comment on: Syleham Light

Here is the Book

Posted by Tim Lenton on 4 January 2009 at 18:07 in Poetry

Tags: book paston

Here on the edge of a drowned world
land of the True Cross
we walk on the moon, dark side,
among marbled pillars
touching unearthly colours
dusty passages
fingering forgotten legends

Treasure buried in the priory
where foreign knights battle secretly
against skeletons
and in the Kingdom of God
near Bromholm
the dead are raised

Iron stands like spears against the sun
while stone dissolves

As in the beginning
the word breathes on
until the void takes form
becomes a sacred, fertile field

Visions of Hildegard or Agnes in the rain
play dark tricks
as the world folds into paper,
holding on

Ruins bought and sold
breathe again
words emerge from the rock:
locks are broken

Burning kingfishers perch on fallen walls:
paths burst from the undergrowth

Here on the edge of the moon
Here is the book
Here are the letters thrown down and lifted up
Here the rushing wind
fire and water
laid like a cloth of gold and silver
under the patient stars

Poet's comment: This was written for the Paston Project in 2008 and draws on many aspects of the work, especially history and the surrounding countryside – and of course the book itself.

Comment on: Here is the Book


Posted by Tim Lenton on 12 May 2007 at 23:29 in Poetry

Tags: eternity leaf man tree woman

Linocut by Annette Rolston View image

From the womb of the woman
and the heart of the man
a new tree grows

Through each fragile leaf
a narrow way opens
to other worlds:
a way like birth containing pain
and ecstasy

Drops of blood like light
pour through the darkness:
strange dew defeating time and space,
blotting out the stench
of decay:
turning the universe over
healing the curse of chaos

The tree survives flood and famine
dances to the music of eternity

Comment on: Leaf

Distant Funeral

Posted by Tim Lenton on 17 July 2005 at 13:32 in Poetry

Tags: funeral maine

by Annette Rolston View image

Wind fills our sails on Camden Bay.
You slip away
while timbers crack against the deep.
I miss your final knocking at the door,
your sudden sleep.

Three thousand miles beyond the light
the misty warnings of the owl
fade into eagle’s flight:
you see it now.

Way beyond certainty
outside the rings of time
delivered, blue, in unconditioned air
made whole, you stand and stare,
dance on a pin,

while gravity retreats
you meet
the sting, the tumble
and the healing cold.

I journey on the margin way,
rock–sitting, brave
to watch the seventh wave decay
and read
your letters from the grave.

Tim Lenton

Poet's comment: I had been visiting my uncle, Frank Lenton, for some time. He was 95, bedbound and very weak but not in great pain physically. But he could not understand, as a Christian, why God should want him to be a burden to his wife and an embarrassment to himself. I meant to visit him in the week before leaving for a holiday in Canada and New England, but somehow there wasn't time. I was shattered to hear just after leaving Camden, Maine, that he had died, and I would miss the funeral. Images in the poem reflect what we were doing in Maine as well as his life.

Comment on: Distant Funeral


Posted by Tim Lenton on 25 November 2004 at 10:12 in Poetry

Tags: forgiven

Monoprint 2004, by Annette Rolston View image

Saw you held
by pulses of the past
coming like a knife
with a point to make
over and over

You were blind in there
unable to forget
heavy as horses held
at the starting gate

like a seed sensing light
straight out
tape falling, free

Wings open
almost unbearable
being forgiven

Tim Lenton

Poet's comment: This is an example of a poem being inspired by a picture, but taking a different track in response to it. Annette's stunning image is called Fruitful, for obvious reasons, but I saw it also as a picture of someone being set free, which prompted the idea of forgiveness.

Comment on: Forgiven

African Dream

Posted by Tim Lenton on 14 November 2004 at 10:10 in Poetry

Tags: africa dream water

Monoprint 2003, by Annette Rolston View image

Looking down again, I see
the glow of the desert where we met.

You lie naked by the bush
that burned; you are
alone, having received
no message.

You put on your shoes again
and dance past bare walls into the trees, chasing
memories of lion and giraffe.

Flamingos discover the source
of the Nile: it is autumn, and you
are climbing into the snow.

The sky turns, and I plunge
through breadcrumb stars; you stand
beside elephants and rushing water,
wondering whether to risk
the crossing.

Your knees are bruised: I look down again,
then close my eyes. Suddenly
everything is clear.

Tim Lenton

Poet's comment: Here there is little direct correspondence between Annette's picture and the images in the poem. But the title of the picture and the atmosphere it created set me off on a dreamlike trail into aspects of Africa which I found striking.

Comment on: African Dream

Mist and fire

Posted by Tim Lenton on 13 November 2004 at 10:08 in Poetry

Tags: fire mist

by Annette Rolston View image

I live in mist and look at fire
I take the kiss and touch the wire

The mist is cold upon my cheek
The fire I see plays hide and seek

I cannot pin the fire down
The mist is all around the town

The mist is changing shapes for me
It shows me things I like to see

The fire is hard to understand
It blazes forth and burns my hand

The mist relieves the fire in me
The fire outside waits patiently

The mist attempts to hide the flames
With hit and run and fun and games

I hold the mist and love the fire
And one is true and one's a liar

Tim Lenton

Annette Rolston's image appears on the front page of the book of Tim's poetry collection, Mist and Fire.

Comment on: Mist and fire

Soul swimmer

Posted by Tim Lenton on 11 November 2004 at 10:06 in Poetry

Tags: island sea

Monoprint 2004, by Annette Rolston View image

I lie on the sand
Where you stripped chaos from me
Cupped my heart in your hand
Like a feather

Together we fed at the edge of the sea
No further
Your hair splashed over me
Tongues touching and leaving

Now I haunt the island
A shadow that falls
And you are two birds
Flying towards the dawn

Tim Lenton

Poet's comment: Here the images in the poem bear a very strong correlation with Annette's picture. I was able to respond in a direct way to what she had done, and I think the poem and the picture work well together, amplifying each other.

Comment on: Soul swimmer

Sins of Omission

Posted by Tim Lenton on 3 September 2004 at 12:42 in Poetry

Tags: cliff coast lindisfarne

Painting, October 2004 View image

He lies in the hollow of smooth white rock
worn down, watching her
adjust her clothes.

Sharp wind stipples her skin:
hips rise and fall.
Out there the tide hesitates, wondering
if it can decently return.

Years ago, wreckers crouched here
lighting false fires
altering lives
Now the white flame
warns all who sail close.

She puts on her sandals
and smiles at him: behind her
a broken tree.

They climb back up the coloured cliffs
as tongues of water push in.
He offers her his hand.

Pause: clean canvas.
Sins washed away.
Nothing happened here.

Tim Lenton

Poet's comment I spent a few days one May in retreat on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. I fell in love with the bleak northern beaches and spent some time there. It was during one of these solitary walks that the idea for this rather enigmatic poem came to me, as I watched the tide rising and falling and saw the shapes it made in the rocks and stones. The idea of cleansing of sins followed, but the ending is playfully provocative. The link with Annette's image came later.

Comment on: Sins of Omission


Posted by Tim Lenton on 11 March 2004 at 13:33 in Poetry

Tags: relationship wallpaper

When you walked out across the burning bridge
and threw your keys into the sand
I tried to strip you from my mind
like wallpaper.

Parts of you came off easily,
without a struggle, as if
you were just hanging there prettily,
never really attached.

But other parts stuck fast,
even though I diluted you
with liquid
and scraped hard into the night.

Months later, after much rubbing,
the wall looks smooth.
But if I run my fingers over it
I can still feel
your goosebumps on
its thin, thin skin.

Tim Lenton

Comment on: Stripping