Virginia Astley Interviews

Virginia Astley Interviews

There is magic to be found in the text and photographs here, and also in this beautiful rendering of what the river actually is.’ – Pete Townshend, The Who

Songwriter and poet Virginia Astley’s debut poetry collection The English River: a journey down the Thames in poems & photographs, recording her walk along the river from its source up to the Thames Barrier, was published by Bloodaxe Books on 21 June 2018.  The book is introduced by Pete Townshend of The Who.

Virginia Astley grew up by the river’s upper reaches, knew the lock-keepers and was familiar with all aspects of the Thames and its hinterland.  These poems tell the story of her return to the Thames, of three years spent tracing its course and of the lives of those connected with the river, as well as her summer spent as a lock-keeper’s assistant based on the upper reach. 

Virginia Astley has been a much-admired singer and songwriter since the 1980s, known for her engaging lyrics as well as for her melodious style. Since the publication of her chapbookThe Curative Harp in 2015, poetry has been added to the mix.  In 2017 she became writer-in-residence at Thomas Hardy’s Cottage. She continues to perform, together with her daughter Florence on harp, regularly at Max Gate – Thomas Hardy’s house in Dorchester.


Gideon Coe, BBC 6 Music, Thursday 12 July 2018, 9pm-midnight

Virginia Astley was the guest on BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe show’s Late Night Book Club on Thursday 12 July.  She was speaking about her poetry debut The English River as well as her music, and chose some of the tracks that were played.  Gideon also played some of Virginia's own music, and they discussed how this linked with her poetry. She spoke about her time working as an assisant lock-keeper on the Thames.  She read her poems 'I breathe as though I've been submerged and am coming up for air'. 'Lost in Locks' and 'Homecoming' from The English River.  

Virginia mentioned her up-coming readings in Bridport and Totnes. Details here.

Available for 30 days after broadcast here. Virginia was on the programme from 10.10pm.  Her interview was described by one listener as 'One of the best hours of radio I've ever heard.' 


The English River was Book of the Month for June 2018 on Caught by the River.  Poem & photograph from the book featured here.  An in-depth review by Richard King is here.

'I think there’s a deep connection between song-writing and poetry. They feel like hybrid forms of the same thing.'  - Virginia Astley on her debut poetry collection in an interview with Literature Works.  For the full interview & review, click here.

[12 July 2018]

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