Maurice Rutherford is a poet. Here’s why in his words:
Why Poetry? Because poetry happens. For me it came during my mid- to late-fifties, like this:-
“Since schooldays’ learning poetry by rote, I had given little or no thought to the subject until the day when, as editor of a charity’s branch newsletter I decided to print an amusing anecdote I’d heard, and did so in verse, signed ‘anon’. When my clever, funny and witty masterpiece was criticized by a chap who happened to be a grammar school teacher “because it doesn’t rhyme and it doesn’t scan”, my pride seriously wounded, I shot off to the public library to read books of poems and books of how to write poems. In one of the anthologies, I came across for the first time poems which seemed written especially for me, by wartime Services personnel with experiences parallel to my own. I was hooked. I read and wrote and practised until at length I felt I could write a half decent poem, and I grew, and still feel, unbounded gratitude towards that schoolmaster critic. I submitted my work to various poetry publications, and entered poetry competitions to test the reaction, progressing from an occasional commendation, through many failures and rejections, to eventual podium successes in minor open poetry competitions such as Bassetlaw, Newbury, Ripley and Surrey, and inclusion in various journals, among them About Larkin, Critical Survey, London Magazine and Poetry Review.
A couple of courses at the Arvon Foundation’s Lumb Bank were richly rewarding with experience, friendships and contacts and, resulting from one of these, one cold winter morning saw me motoring through the snow over the Pennines from Grimsby to Manchester to record my poem Irreverence (about the fleet of laid-up trawlers condemned to rust in redundancy resulting from the Icelandic Cod Wars) for broadcasting on BBC Radio Three’s ‘Poetry Now’, a monthly twenty minutes programme of interval readings for G & T time between the two halves of classical music concerts. More recently I was delighted when Carol Rumens chose my poem The Autumn Outings for her Guardian Poem of the Week blog. Poetry, in both the reading and writing of it, has been very kind to me, adding extra meanings to my life, and the poets Alan Brownjohn, Charles Causley, Robert Graves, Philip Larkin, Ken Smith and R.S.Thomas were, and still are, major contributors.”
Maurice Rutherford was born in Hull, East Yorkshire in 1922. After five years of military service he spent his adult life as a technical writer in the Engineering and Shiprepairing Industry in Hull and later in Immingham, Lincolnshire. He has published a number of poetry collections, notably with Peterloo Poets, Calstock, Cornwall and then with Shoestring Press, Nottingham, from where his latest book, ‘And Saturday Is Christmas’ was launched in 2011. Aged 96, Rutherford now lives in Westgate-on-Sea,
Impaired eyesight now puts lengthy writings and proof reading beyond his reach, but he retains an interest in the haiku form of poetry and might be seen being shepherded around Westgate, Margate and surroundings, taking photographs from which to compose his own version of haiku. In January 2019 he held a solo exhibition of this companion form of photography and literature in Cliffs Gallery, Margate, and is currently collating a portfolio of photographs with haikus, aiming toward publication in book form.