Rory Waterman

Rory Waterman




Rory Waterman is a poet, editor, critic and academic. His first poetry collection, Tonight the Summer’s Over, was published by Carcanet in November 2013 and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He also co-edits New Walk, an international print magazine for poetry and the arts, and he writes regularly for various publications such as the TLS and PN Review. Rory was born in Belfast, but grew up in rural Lincolnshire. He studied English at the University of Leicester and at Durham University, returning to the former after a few years in order to undertake a PhD in twentieth-century poetry. He is now a Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.

Creative Work

Visiting Grandpa

First published in The Bow-wow Shop, 2010

He gave her a photo of great-grandma Alice
and a small box of medals he’d won in the War.
She tried on his glasses and giggled, and listened
to the clicks of his pacemaker, cheek to chest,
and wound up his watch, and shook-shook his tablets,
but he didn’t say what they were for.

When he died of the cancer she wasn’t to see him,
her mum said. You can’t show a child of four
what the body might do to itself. So one evening
she learned about heaven, how people looked down
and smiled. And she tried not to cry, and she hid
the medals her grandpa once wore.


‘Visiting Grandpa’ is the closest thing I have to a ‘Leicestershire poem’, as it was inspired by a story I once read in a Leicestershire paper about a girl and her granddad. However, the details of story and poem differ significantly. At least I think they do: I don’t remember the original.

My poems often bear little relation to the circumstances that occasion them. I think a significant part of the inspiration for this poem is my own wonderful grandmother, with whom I spent most of my upbringing. She had a pacemaker and it gave an eerie but gentle metallic click, which I remember noticing when I fell asleep on her lap at the age of about four. She died when I was fifteen, and only after she’d gone did I wish I’d given her back more of the love she gave to me. So, I suppose the grandfather is sort of my grandmother, up to a point, and the girl in the poem is almost me, in vastly different circumstances. It’s good to dramatise yourself, I suppose, and to bury yourself deep in fictions about others. That isn’t to say that the poem isn’t true: the emotions and failings and responsibilities and beautiful, futile hopes for transcendence it deals with are as true to life as anything I can imagine. I’m happy with the rhyming homophones, and the sense of a sort of encasement or entrapment that they might echo.

I consider Leicester an innate part of my consciousness, but the city has never been an ostensible setting for one of my poems. I have no idea why this is the case, beyond the fact that most – by no means all – of my poems are shorn of geographical specificity.



Tonight the Summer’s OverCarcanet, 2013
Poem in The Best British Poetry 2012, Salt, 2012
14 poems in New Poetries V, Carcanet, 2011




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