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Montauk by Sir Andrew Motion

Sir Andrew Motion, Photo by Johnny Ring

Montauk by Sir Andrew Motion

Sir Andrew Motion was the British Poet Laureate from 1999 -2009. During his time in this position, he co-founded The Poetry Archive, one of One Giant Read’s partners and became known for writing poems which were based on the reality of every day people. He collaborated with a number of charities and organisations on special commissions to raise awareness of such issues as homelessness, bullying and shell-shock.

Sir Andrew is currently Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.

His poem ‘Montauk’ demonstrates the importance of remembering the lasting impact of small events on the bigger picture, inspiring thoughts about our quantum theme.


Remembering how a wave made in Antarctica
preserves its shape for many thousands of miles
provided the water is fathomless and only starts

to die when the ocean bed shelves towards a beach
whereupon the crest still travelling unhindered
gradually topples forward ahead of the toiling feet

with no choice except to disperse the energy it kept
so long in store, we caught the train out to Montauk
and were content all day to watch the breakers there.

Sir Andrew Motion.

This poem is taken from the 2012 collection, The Customs House published by Faber and Faber. Photograph of Sir Andrew by Johnny Ring.

'Montauk' read by Professor Anthony Caleshu

Professor Anthony Caleshu Anthony Caleshu is an American poet with three published poetry collections, a novella and a book on poetry criticism to his name. His poetry collections The Siege of the Body and a Brief Respite (2004) and Of Whales: in Print, in Paint, in Sea, in Stars, in Coin, in House, in Margins (2010) were both published by Salt Publishing. In 2010, he received The Boston Review Poetry Prize for the first five poems in the then ongoing collection The Victor Poems which has since been published in full in 2015 by Shearsman. He is also currently a professor of poetry at Plymouth University.