Back in October 2014 (now six years ago) I was on the first term of a Creative Writing M.A. at NTU.
I was also with uncanny timing commissioned (the first and so far the only time I been commissioned) by R.I.B.A. through Apple and Snakes to write in response to a lovely collection of Edwin Smith Photographs at R.I.B.A. that autumn.
I missed my course deadline but fulfilled the commission and promptly left a course that frankly I should not have been on at that time. The £500 fee almost covered my first term fees!
The RIBA website has ‘mislaid’ the entire project basically so I publishing whole thing here instead.
Here is the work which is one of the best things I done so far and as I not as flavour of the month as certain other poets hasn’t been seen since unless you delve deep into my obscure back catalogue.
Apple and Snakes put up a blog post of the recordings we all made as well but they been deleted since as diversification took its toll.. also deleted from RIBA too….ticked the wrong box?
Council grass-cutter smooth
the sliced hay and clover ferments in warm bundles
in the crest and dip of this depression
a hundred yards short of the churchyard entrance.
The old building has fallen to dust
living only as a memory of a shadow at dusk.
Here the cocks once beat a flurry of blood and feather
and the shackled bears were unchained.
Later those bears danced, shifting in their chains
as the first generator spluttered into life under the chestnuts.
Then it was teeth and claws, a rowdy entertainment of
blood soaked pelts and simple wagers.
The clay beneath this hollow has drunk
up its four hundred years of dripping blood.
It has fed into the roots of every blade of grass
that now lies as smooth as fur
a cloak of lost bets, shattered bones and fears.
RIBA have finally put up the poem…so you can read it now I provided a ‘referenced’ version and a ‘clean’ none annotated version they went with referenced…strangely but there you go ‘Catching Light’….I have also provided a recording of myself reading (no footnotes;-) which will be uploaded later I presume.
I have just re-read the post below which was written the week before my mother’s funeral. She had Carcinoid Cancer which was diagnosed in 2005 the year after my father died of Pancreatic Cancer which he was diagnosed with in 2002. My sister and I therefore have been dealing with cancer and its personal affects for over ten years. My mother was brave to the end but in both instances the physical deterioration and pain is almost too much to bear. It was with a sad heart and a sense of relief that my family finally said goodbye to her in June.
In the post below I am pretty clear about the reasons why I had slowly slipped away from poetry. Looking back now, having crawled away from the wreckage of the last ten years it a wonder I wrote anything let alone managed to publish the Last Farmer book. The promotion tour for that was heavily influenced by my mother’s sudden deterioration so I couldn’t say my heart was really in it although I enjoyed reading with other Salt poets.
I cannot say where I will go in the future with writing. I am concentrating on my M.A. by registered project and building up a ‘Graphic Research’ profile which involves a lot of academic research, reading and writing. However the enforced lay-off due to illness has meant that I at least get to look at my poetry shelves now:-).
It may be that the poetry does come back as the shock of the last ten years wears off. I think now that the circumstances of my parent’s death was hugely significant in making me turn away from the family and place-related subject matter that once fueled my muse so to speak.
Whatever happens I would like to thank Salt for letting the Last Farmer out for a while but I cannot say I would ever work with them again. Hopefully it wasn’t really a poetic last gasp after all….
Roberta Dewa, Derrick Buttress, Antony Cropper, Shaun Belcher, Clare Brown and Michael Pinchbeck – all Nottinghamshire writers – launch a Staple special edition, with short fiction, poetry and a memoir of living in Wilford!