Winterreis — David Batten
Charting winter journeys, travelling to funerals and to the anniversary of a young death, David Batten reflects on loss in its many guises. Facing grief with meticulous attention, whether it strikes in close family or political reality, Winterreis touches on truths as urgent now as when Willhelm Müller wrote his own Winterreise, a poetry cycle with which Batten resonates, or when Franz Schubert composed his song cycle of the same name, based on Müller’s poems. The poems here become an “assembly of the omens encountered while wandering in contemporary Europe…” and a commemoration of those making music and poetry, who too often die young. Poignant, cathartic and ultimately life-affirming, this is considered poetry written with grace.
David Batten studied history and ideology at Hull College and Hull University, where he took his Master’s degree, and also played back row for Hull & East Riding RFC, before rejoining family in Gwynedd, teaching at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, then working in community development in North Wales. His debut collection Transhumance was published in 2016; and a pamphlet, Storme Passage in 2017; followed by the full length collections Untergang in 2018, and Winterreis in 2021. Rotterdam was his first prose work and is part autobiography, part philosophical reflection. David lives in the Aveyron in southern France.
David Batten achieves with impressive facility what other contemporary poets achieve – he evokes lyrical spaces and landscapes, he is adept at constructing his poems so that they are premised upon vividly present scenes. For him though this facility isn’t an end in itself but the starting-point of an intellectual exploration which is aided by his depth and range of knowledge and articulated also in a discursive mode which is unusual in British poetry and which helps him to take up themes and develop them from one poem to the next.