On the subject of Reviews

Poetry behind bars »

B.H. Fraser

November 1st, 2012.


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by pavlova Local journalist and co-founder of the app iFpoems, Rachel Kelly, talks about taking poetry behind the bars of Wormwood Scrubs

The most striking aspect of visiting HMP Wormwood Scrubs for the first time this month was the silence. After clearing security – passport checks, form-filling, handing over mobile phones – and passing through a sort of holding pen (one door slides open, and you wait for two minutes before the next door opens) – our little group of poetry enthusiasts stepped into a vast courtyard at the centre of the prison blocks. I could only hear a robin sing. The silence endured as we walked across the yard, admiring the chapel which was built by prisoners past, through another double lot of sliding doors, up some stairs till we arrived at Room 13. Still it was quiet. Only now did the noise of some of the 1,100 or so prisoners greet us. Some 25 offenders, mainly dressed in grey tracksuits and trainers, young and old, and chatting to each other, entered the prison classroom and took their places in chairs placed in a circle. They had all volunteered to come.

I was there to talk about the poetry anthology IF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility which I have co-edited with Allie Esiri, while my co-presenter was the poet B.H. Fraser, outstanding versifier of life in the City, who was there to read some of his poems and to talk about life as a working.

Evening Standard: Rachel Kelly’s mission to make poetry accessible online »

B.H. Fraser

October 10th, 2012.


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Last week Kelly, 47, gave a poetry workshop at Wormwood Scrubs for 20 prisoners with B.H. Fraser under the auspices of the Longford Trust. “A few prisoners left halfway but they did come back,” she says, laughing. One of the most popular poems with the inmates was Christopher Logue’s To a Friend in Search  of Rural Seclusion – “When all else fails/try Wales”.

As for the future, she plans to expand the app’s poetry repertoire and do more workshops in prison. “This  has been a wonderful thing for me. If it can help one person, if one of those prisoners found one poem that made one minute’s difference, it’s worth it. There is a common humanity to all of us that poetry connects with, whether you are a prisoner or a child. It’s about essential truth and that speaks to every type of person.”

Poetry Reading at HMP Wormwood Scrubs »

B.H. Fraser

September 28th, 2012.


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London – Friday, 28th September 2012

Richard Archibald tells us about the poetry event that took place in the Education Department. Don’t be put off by the word ‘poetry’. It’s more fun than you might think.

The afternoon bustle of the Education wing filled the hallway as prisoners filed themselves into their designated destinations. One of those destinations was for National Poetry Day, which was celebrated on the 12th September 2012 in the Radio Production class at Wormwood Scrubs.

Click here to read full article

Londoners Diary: A poetry reading to knock your socks off »

B.H. Fraser

September 27th, 2011.


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Banker and poet B.H. Fraser gave a reading of his poems in aid of Friends of the Royal Marsden Hospital, where his late stepfather —— —— was treated for cancer, at his house in Kensington last night, assisted by his son Tom  who read some of his own. Publisher Tom Stacey, 81, who read one of his own poems, arrived on a scooter of the engineless variety as he thought he was late. “Luckily it was downhill but it’ll be uphill on the way home,” he said. Clothing tycoon Johnnie Boden was wearing no socks. “It’s a sort of Euro fashion statement,” he said. “I don’t wear socks between May and October, or when I’m on holiday. “Fraser’s mother —- ——- —— was selling a book of her late husband’s poems in aid of the Marsden. “It’s such a brilliant hospital,” she said.

Among Friends »

B.H. Fraser

May 14th, 2011.


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… The secondary distillation of work by less well-known contemporary poets, from already slender pamphlets, makes them competitively potent. B.H.Fraser’s ‘Business Centre’, a fagged-out hymn to the conference-world of the mid-1980s, is a shining example. …

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Londoners Diary: Poetry and the arts in the Fraser genes »

B.H. Fraser

April 4th, 2011.


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Former arts minister Grey Gowrie has high praise for B.H. Fraser and his collection of poems, Default Virgins.”Manic depression is a familiar condition of many good poems and good poets,” writes Lord Gowrie in his foreword. “B.H. Fraser’s poems cast a healthier, colder eye. But their impressive, jerky rhythms and ability to move in and out of formal English do serve to capture the greed/fear, elation/despair equations of the City …” B.H. Fraser’s method suits his subject, indeed derives from it. There are terrific changes of pace and mood in the verse. Most of us at present are suffering from violent fiscal change of one sort or another as we enter our century’s puberty. We are default virgins, a Fraser phrase worthy of the OED.” Late hatter Isabella Blow is immortalised by Fraser in one of his works:  “Dream me./I am neither asleep nor awake./I am in parenthesis./Watching/With love and remembrance,/I am your heated vision.” Fraser, now 50, is a top merchant banker and father of five. How does he find the time?

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