E. A. Markham

This morning, flicking through a pile of poetry books that had made its way onto the dining-room table, I unearthed an old edition of the Penguin Book of Love Poetry. I think I bought the book from a Sheffield charity shop a few years ago. Looking inside, I found a dedication…

To Archie,
For Lumb Bank &
for Papua N.G.
future. Don’t
forget the pig

love Dawn
March 1983

It tickled my fancy, and so I posted it to Instagram, then thought no more of it.

Dedication in a second-hand copy of The Penguin Book of Love Poetry.

A photo posted by Dan Sumption (@dansumption) on

Soon afterwards though, I got a tweet from Jess Meacham:

I still didn’t investigate further though, until a little later I spotted a tweet from my friend Salena Godden (whose book Fishing in the Aftermath had also been in that pile of poetry), saying that she was at Lumb Bank:

So, just for a giggle, I decided to see whether I could find out who Archie and Dawn were. A couple of Googles later (specifically, a search for “poet archie papua new guinea”) and I ended up at the Wikipedia page for E. A. Markham.

His middle name was Archie.

He took a VSO position in Papua New Guinea from 1983 to 1985.

He lectured at Sheffield Hallam University from 1991, and remained in Sheffield until 2005, a couple of years before his death, when he moved to Paris.

Perhaps all coincidental but, combined with the Lumb Bank reference, I feel reasonably sure that this was Markham’s book. A poet’s artifact.

And now, I’m wondering who Dawn was.

In the meantime, I also discovered this lovely little poem.

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