Simon Howard, 1960–2013

At the start of this week, I learnt of the tragic, untimely death of the poet Simon Howard.

I didn’t really know him. We were Facebook ‘friends’ and spent time on one or two of the same online forums. We corresponded occasionally. We never met, and I feel immensely sad that now we never will. I don’t even have a face. I knew Simon only through his intelligence, his immense musical sensitivity and his fierce anger at an unjust world.

I can only claim to know his poetry a little, like that of many of his peers in fact. On the odd occasions when I did reveal my utter ignorance and call out for assistance, Simon was exceedingly generous in providing reading lists, links, thoughts and guidance. Generosity is a word that many have used since his passing. I must have assumed that he would always be around for that sort of help, and that I would always be able to catch up eventually as a result. Many of his poems are archived on his blog Walking In the Ceiling; others have been published by (among others) Knives Forks and Spoons (including the brilliant Numbers), Oystercatcher Press and Red Ceilings Press.

Simon’s words rang beyond the small circles of the London poetry scene. His extraordinary affinity for music – he was one of the most well-listened people I think I have known, and certainly among non-musicians – attracted many composers to his poetry. Among those I know to have set or referenced his work in theirs are Richard Barrett, Philip Venables, Philipp Blume and Robert Dahm, but I’m sure there are more. There is talk of a possible tribute concert, and if more details arise I will post them here.

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