Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Anne Born


                    Anne Born introduced by Sophia Yannatou, Kamilari 1995

Anne Born lived at Oversteps, Froude Road, Salcombe in South Devon. She hardly wanted to travel into London, a city too large for her. However, there was this dilemma. For she still needed the citry for poetry readings and for staying in contact with publishers. Her attitude comes out fully in her essay she contributed to the conference 'Myth of the City' held in Crete 1995: The City by Anne Born

One note I had written down to introduce her presentation:

Anne Borne: The city – ‘gemme of all joy or the place where Houses thick and sewers annoy the air – with Reference to the Reith Lectures

Three poem contributed by Anne Borne to the poetry readings during the 'Myth of the City' conference, and which she read first in Kamilari:

The Freeman

City Rivers

Flow Cycles



After having participated in the 'Myth of the City' conference, contact became more sparse as time went by. It all depends upon new perspectives opening up to facilitate the coming together. Still, she continued to stay in touch for a while.

On Nov. 4, 1996 she wrote:

"I was at a poetry and song evening in Cornwell last Friday when Gabriel Fitzmaurize, the Irish poet and singer, performed. I asked him for news of Brendan (Kennelly), and found he is a close friend. He told me Brendan has had a tripe bypass operation and is now doing well. I expect you know this, but in case you haven't heard, I thought I'd send you this fax. Please can you let me know as soon as possible whether the January 17 date is on or not? Hope all goes well, yours ever Anne"

Before the conference in Crete I had visited her in England and there joined her when we went for the St. Hugh's Garden Party in Oxford. It was typically British with various guests chatting away while holding their tea cups. When at such a place, classical images of boat races and other things associated with the various halls of the different colleges are conjured up. Everything is equally impressive and strange in both an intellectual and in a cultural sense. The apt word to describe it is that a certain aura hovers above ground and the want to be believe empirical ground disappears in what became later on the Harry Potter world. Magicians are never out of work in England.

Partly I started to have these impressions already on the train coming to Oxford. For two gentlemen, equally assistant professors or research assistants were sitting opposite to me and so I could admire without listening in too much to be nosey in how engaged they debated historical facts. It took on the impression of having near me an encyclopedia like dimensions opening up like a magic book which filled the entire train compartment.

Once in Oxford I was surprised by having allowed itself to be reduced to a tourist like city. The streets were cramped mainly due to many vendors, tea bars, restaurants while the streets themselves are not made wide enough for modern traffic demands.

But apart from that, Anne Born moved about at ease and with a certain grace. At that time, her hair was already turning slightly grey which gave her a distinguished look. She was not aloof nor identical with the Academic crowd. Continously she would love to narrate about her home. There was something about it which gave her a link to sources of inspiration which found then a way into her poetry. Kind hearted and highly ethical, she looked beyond the immediate horizon and knew what was coming.

When looking up today (31.7.2013) under her name on Google to see what can be found out about her, I sadly learned that she died on 27 July 2011. After Andrietti Stathi, Eugene van Itterbeek and Norb Blei, she is now the fourth poet who has left for the eternal fields.

Wikipedia states briefly about her the following:

"Anne Rosemary Cookes was born in the southern suburbs of London, and was much inclined to reading. During the second world war she joined the FANY, and worked teaching Morse code at the SOE station at Grendon Underwood in Buckinghamshire. There she met Povl Born, a young pilot in the Danish air force; they married later, in 1946, and moved to Copenhagen, where she studied English literature at the university. She became fluent in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

She began writing poetry and, at the same time, translated Scandinavian writers into English, such as Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Jens Christian Grøndahl, Per Petterson, Michael Larsen, Janne Teller, Stig Holmas, Carsten Jensen, Sissel Lie, Henrik Stangerup, and Knud Hjortø.

In the 1980s she moved to Salcombe, Devon, where she wrote books on local history.[1] She founded the poetry publisher Overstep Books in 1992, and ran it until 2008.[2]

For her translation of Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses she won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[3]"



We did touch upon her links to Scandinavian countries and her tremendous translation work.This included Pia Tafdrup whose widely acknowledge collection of poems under the title 'Spring Tide' she translated from Danish into English.

I was very much attracted to her. She had such a resounding voice. This was mainly due to her very clear pronounciation of the English language. Her voice is captured in the poetic and musical collage Savina Yannatou made of the different poets, including Anne Born's. Her poem about the "unicorn" stands out in that repertoire. The poem itself reflects a mythical belief in such an animal as it describes what images people who live near forests have.

Other poems of Anne Born can be found on following webpages:


"The migrants"

"Meaning" in: Defending the imagination

As to her poem about the unicorn, it can be found in the presentation she gave at the Fifth Seminar, Cultural Actions for Europe, held in Athens 1994

Poetry and the Mythic Horse by Anne Born

Hatto Fischer

Athens 31.7.2013


While preparing for the 'Myth of the City' conference, I wrote to her some ideas. Here is the transcript of my letter to her on 27.7.1994

Dear Anne,

thank you for your warm letter from July 18, 1994. Already I am receiving from several sides responses to the suggested theme 'Myth of the City', so that we should be able to make more precise the topic for next year's poetry symposium in Kamilari, Crete.

I do not know the book you mentioned by Italo Calvino: "Invisible Cities". The title "Mythical Cities" - mythical dwelling places - seems to give already the topic a more concrete location, so that poetic images can take off like birds, like planes, like papers thrown up in the air. I admit that it is a huge concept. Your feelings about big towns as opposed to smaller ones, this Brendan Kennelly had, however, in mind when suggesting such a topic. For he wants to hear not only affirimative voices, but also those with a critical eye and at a distance from big cities come to word.

The French poet Baptiste Marray, who attended as well the Fifth Seminar in Athens, but not the poetry symposium in Crete, writes following response to this suggested theme:

"Like you, I admired the Loeckx's communication on 'city and space'. It is a good theme. However, I am not sure that, today, city-center is not a museum, and the life, and poetry, and music, life in suburbs, always forgotten."

To explain, I have suggested to him and to Brendan Kennelly that we make the Loeckx paper into a common reference point. It is included for you to read. Loeckx gave that paper at the Fifth Seminar to which had the intention of coming.

In what you remarked about some of the papers of the Poetry Symposium in Crete being weak, that is certainly true, but remember, we nearly cancelled the entire event when in last minute the news from the Ministry of Culture took us by surprise and we could still go ahead as originally planned. I would like to know, however, which ones you think are weak and perhaps even in need of rewriting. I ask you this because you may be able to help us in due time to find an English publisher for all the material. There is a great deal of substance there and it would be a pity if it ends up only in the drawer.

Tomorrow my summer course at LaVerne in Humanities, Quest for Values ends. We worked on the theme 'poetry and violence', something already mentioned in my article for the Poetry Symposium in Crete. For you to read and to show my interaction with the students, I include also the lecture notes and some recent poems that went along with it. I seem to be writing right now as much in German as in English. Eventually I would also like to find a publisher for my English poems.

With interest I read the manifest of Bernard Samuels. Indeed, it strikes a chord in me. Thanks for letting me have that material.

In fond memories of our attendance at the St. Hugh's Garden Party and our discussion at your home, glad that you are enjoying both poetry materials and the little book.

Take care


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