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My last defense
Is the present tense.

Old Mary
by Gwendolyn Brooks


Old Mary by Gwendolyn BrooksA Friend to Pete
00:00 / 25:44

In this episode, Pete Stones talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Old Mary' by Gwendolyn Brooks.

Pete joined The Poetry Exchange at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, in one of our first in-person Exchanges since the pandemic. He is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and John Prebble.

'Old Mary' is read by Pete Stones and Fiona Bennett.

Old Mary
by Gwendolyn Brooks

My last defense
Is the present tense.

It little hurts me now to know
I shall not go

Cathedral-hunting in Spain
Nor cherrying in Michigan or Maine.


Reproduced by consent of Brooks Permissions.

The Guest House title image.jpg

If you like this, we invite you to discover our conversation with Yasmin about 'The Guest House' by Rumi.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.