Threading a Dream: A Poet on the Nile

Threading a Dream: A Poet on the Nile

This rich and thoughtful memoir by critically acclaimed poet John Greening interweaves prose, verse and illustration to tell the story of his journey towards his first collection, Westerners.

Threading a Dream is a journey in prose and verse to southernmost Egypt, that 'Black Land' where the dead were known as 'Westerners'. It retraces the steps of critically acclaimed poet John Greening, not just through ancient Egypt’s world of painted tombs, labyrinthine temples and animal gods, but through the modern landscapes and events through which he began to find his voice as a poet.

In this new memoir, poems from John Greening’s debut, Westerners, and other subsequent collections of his work, are interwoven with prose chapters exploring the poet’s lively recollections of Upper Egypt in the last years of Anwar Sadat’s rule. Painstakingly illustrated by Rosie Greening, this book is a remarkable evocation of the transformative power of engaging with other cultures and other times.

‘A disarming and engaging guide. [Greeening] neatly contrasts his own restlessness and sense of impermanence with the ancient civilisation ... I enjoyed Threading a Dream a great deal.'
Andrew Hadfield, PN Review

‘Inspiring, enlightening and educational...There is a wealth of detail and anecdote, recounted with humour and insight.'
Dawn Wood, Dundee University Review of the Arts


About the Author:

John Greening lived in Aswan, Upper Egypt for two years with his wife, Jane. In 1981 he won First Prize at the Alexandria International Poetry Festival and received the award from Jehan Sadat on the site of the ancient Pharos. Since then, he has published over a dozen collections, won Arvon, Bridport  and TLS Prizes and received a Cholmondeley Award. Recent publications include his OUP edition of Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War, the anthology Accompanied Voices: Poets on Composers from Thomas Tallis to Arvo Pärt, a new selection of Geoffrey Grigson’s poetry, the Egyptian pamphlet Nebamun’s Tomb, and Heath, a collaboration with Penelope Shuttle. He is a regular reviewer for the TLS, an Arvon tutor,  and a judge for the Eric Gregory Awards. He has just completed two years as RLF Writing Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge.

‘Reminiscent of the brief satiric observations in early Pound... a highly developed sense of the suggestiveness of human history’ - Michael Hulse, Times Literary Supplement, on Westerners