"But what the leaves hear is not what the root asks."

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by Martin Carter



Not, in the saying of you, are you
said. Baffled and like a root
stopped by a stone you turn back questioning
the tree you feed. But what the leaves hear
is not what the roots ask. Inexhaustibly,
being at one time what was to be said
and at another time what has been said
the saying of you remains the living of you
never to be said. But, enduring,
you change with the change that changes
and yet are not of the changing of any of you.
Ever yourself, you are always about
to be yourself in something else ever with me.

by Martin Carter

'University of Hunger: Collected Poems & Selected Prose' by Martin Carter, ed. Gemma Robinson. (Bloodaxe August 2006).


Poem as Friend to Nicholas

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Proemby Martin Carter

In this episode you will hear Nicholas talking about the poem that has been a friend to him - 'Proem' by Martin Carter.

Nicholas is one of our 'long distance' visitors and joined us via Skype, from Trinidad. Nicholas is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, John Prebble and Andrea Witzke-Slot, who were together in London for the conversation.

Our thanks to Bloodaxe Books Publishers for kindly granting us permission to use 'Proem'. Do visit them for further inspiration:


You can discover more of Nicholas Laughlin's thoughts and writings here: 



Nicolas is in conversation with John and Andrea.

'Proem' is read by both John and Andrea.


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.