Mark Knopfler inspired by Basil Bunting
It would seem that art inspires art. Just as Basil Bunting, British modernist poet, took inspiration from his surroundings for his poetry, so Mark Knopfler, previously of the band Dire Straits has taken inspiration from Bunting for his new album, Tracker. Interestingly, Bunting spent the last years of his career working as a sub-editor for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, which was where Knopfler began his career in journalism. This overlap has inspired a new song, simply titled ‘Basil’, and reflects Knopfler’s experience working alongside Bunting.
He’s not the only one, though. Our very own Richard Burton was inspired by Bunting’s poetry to write his own biography of the poet, A Strong Song Tows Us, recently hailed as one of the best biographies ever written by Esquire, it takes the reader through Bunting’s life as well as looking at his poetry in great depth. Burton reveals that Bunting detested his job at the Evening Chronicle. When he left in August 1966, he was replaced by the journalist, Peter Stansill, who recalled his awe at being led to Bunting’s chair:
“The deputy editor steered me to the huge subs’ table, around which clustered a dozen journalists, and pointed to the vacant seat that I was to occupy for the next seven months. ‘You’re filling the chair of an officer and a gentleman,’ a neighbouring colleague announced, ‘a poet and a scholar who translates from the ancient Persian.’ I had inherited not only the chair but also the workplace effects (though not the job) of Basil Bunting, who had retired only a few days before. These included a foot rule, a copy of the house style book and thick wads of copy paper, all kept in a locker in the hallway to the printing plant.”
The last thing Bunting would have wanted to be remembered as is a ‘gentleman’.