A5, 104 pages
Published by Iron Press in 1999
Fred Reed died in 1985 laving a rich legacy of his Northumbrian verse. Since his death his reputation has grown. He’s been called ‘the English Burns’. and his work has been compared to that of MacDiarmid. The poetry – with a fiercely optimistic heartbeat in contrast to much of modern poetry’s fashionable bleakness – is collected in one volume for the first time.
A5, 104 pages
Now that Fred is gone, one word keeps recurring again and again to me —a word which once formed the very foundation of the life we shared, despite the fifteen years of time and sixty miles in distance which divided us. In all he articulated, and all he gave, he was for me my own, my very best marra. I am very proud of this.
As the very great lyric poet he was, I’m sure that many more than I must share that rare and wonderful feeling. The word marra was commonly used in farming and probably before that in many Border forays, but it was to reach its finest flowering in the mutual dependence, one upon another, of men in the pits — for their very lives’ sake.
The poet Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) once remarked to me that Chaucer had used a version of the word, probably marrowless, to be without a match, matchless.
In that proper and lovely poetic usage, while remaining your marra and my marra, Fred Reed also stands alone, loveable, incomparable, himself alone — a poet we can call our own, our marra while a poet to look up to and love.
“He is a poet whose words speak aloud from the page… He would all but sing his poems and even those of us without a smattering of the North-Eastern tongue can find a tune there.”
- – Melvyn Bragg
Here is a short example
The Scotsman thinks his Burnsian tungue divine;
The Welshman luvs his language; Aa luv mine.
Sum think theor tungue should be refined.
But divvn’t let expressive speakin die.
Beauty of soond is in the list’nor’s eor.
A frog aye howlds another’s croakin’ deor.