Cholmondeley Award for
Olivier Awards 1992
(Outstanding achievement in opera)
Whitbread Awards for
for the Poetry workshop on the
Guardian Unlimited website (October 2004)
Poet in Residence: Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN, USA, 1985 & 1990
Writing Tutor (libretti): Performing Arts Labs,
International Opera & Music Theatre Labs, UK, 1997, 1998, 1999
Arvon poetry tutor
The Dancer Hotoke
1991, composer Erika Fox
* * *nominated for the 1992 Laurence Olivier Awards* * *
The European Story
1993, chamber opera, composer Geoffrey Alvarez (libretto is based on poem
of the same name).
(Both works above were
commissioned by Royal Opera House for their 'Garden Venture' program in 1991 and
* * *texts of both included in 'Selected Poems' 1995* * *
Her TV opera, Bedlam
Britannica, was transmitted on Channel 4 in September 1995.
She has recorded with BBC World
Service, Kaleidescope & other
BBC Radio Three and BBC Radio Four programs.
Article by Ruth Fainlight
called: "A Memoir of Tangier and Paul Bowles" on http://www.paulbowles.org/fainlight.html
Italian site: http://www.fieralingue.it/modules.php
Literature" site - Lidia Vianu interviews Ruth Fainlight
Ruth Fainlight's translation
(from Portuguese) of Sophia de Mello Breyner's poem, "In the
Poem", is included on the February/March 2003 series of Poems on
Egyptian Couples | The
from: Fifteen to
My mother's old leather
crowded with letters she carried
all through the war. The smell
of my mother's handbag: mints
and lipstick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened
and worn at the edges, opened,
read, and refolded so often.
Letters from my father. Odour
of leather and powder, which ever
since then has meant womanliness,
and love, and anguish, and war.
Ancient Egyptian couples
standing or seated side by side.
Plaited wigs and pleated robes
breastplates and bracelets patterned
with lotus and papyrus buds
in wood, stone, plaster,
meticulously worked and incised.
Signifying separate realms,
his skin is painted
earth red, hers gleams soft
and golden as the sky.
Sometimes, the wife has placed a hand
upon her husband's shoulder.
They stare at us, not at each other,
from enormous kohl-rimmed eyes.
That surge of affection
across millennia, like
the sudden return of desire
which haloes the head, the whole
body, of the one confirmed
again as beloved, brings them
close as you and I.
from: Burning Wire,
Pressing against the
trunk, he twists around
and back to test the resilience of the branch,
the rope, the safety of his position,
then crawls along a bough – a primate
in his habitat. When he stops to rest and
contemplate the distracting criss-cross of last
season's twigs, plot his next move and where
to cut yet not harm the tree's structure,
he becomes a modern human.
Next spring it will start again. By autumn,
when this year's leaves have fallen, the space
he's cleared will be filigreed with new growth.
The pressure of a tool on his palm, the timeless
repetitions of toil, seem part of the same
process – something more important than
an individual life. He's caring for trees,
not carving a sculpture that will immortalize
him; would never conceive such ambitions.
At ground level, two men, helmetted,
their ears muffled against the sound, feed
fallen branches through the mouth of a hopper
that spits the shredded stuff into the open back
of a truck. The tree surgeon, gracefully
stretching toward the tip of the tallest branch,
is only not an artist because he knows
that what he does could be done as well –
or maybe even better – by someone else.
(© Ruth Fainlight)