Hilda Sheehan is the new Featured Writer which I am very excited about as Hilda’s poems give me the shivers. If you don’t know her work read these poems and you will fall for them, too. She organises amazing events (Swindon Poetry Festival for one), runs poetry workshops all over the place, works as a college tutor and runs music groups for small children and is incredibly generous with her time. Not only her poetry but also her whole self is an inspiration. I am not exagerating.
“I think your book should definitely be issued free by the government,” said Rosalie Challis. Another reviewer wrote: “I ate your book from cover to cover and didn’t need cooking or even a sprinkle of salt. It was like three square meals by Heston Blumenthal -sublime wing-smoked bacon ice-cream in twelve textures, deep-blood forest-gateaux, larks-tongue parfait – and he did all the dishes afterwards.” Cristina Navazo-Eguia Newton (Cry Wolf, Templar 2012) William Bedford also wrote a review that appeared in Acumen 77 and that can be read here.
You can read more about her performances and her poetry here I do hope we will get to hear her in Devon soon… hint, hint to someone out there!
It was she who invited me to read at Blue Gate Poets in Swindon and to spend some time at the Richard Jefferies’ Museum. I am still feeling gob-smacked that I struck so incredibly lucky as various things seemed to synchronise beautifully. She too is a fan of Richard Jefferies and she fixed the whole thing up for me like a gift.
Richard Jefferies didn’t seem spend much time in the house with the blue gate that is now his museum but he never stopped writing about the place and the rollicking downs (like whales) all around there. His prose seems to me like a series of prose poems connected with a bit of ordinary prose. This short extract shows his acute observation of country people and their ways: Along the (newly ploughed) furrow as it were, the moisture on which reflects the light. If you watch the farmers driving to market, you will see that they glance up the furrows to note the workmanship and look for game; you may tell from a distance if they espy a hare by the check of the rein and the extended hand pointing.
I had read some writings by Richard Jefferies’ around the time I started writing What the horses heard and it was his connection with the natural world that intersected with the story that was germinating with little green leaves in my mind at the time. His account about an old horse left out in the snow one night really struck me hard and I knew then I had to write about horses….oh, and hares. And a crow flew into my book and later I discovered that of course RJ had great things to note about corvids. He knew the countryside was changing and I wanted to write about this too and the biggest change that was not long in coming to the world at that time (but he died young well before that and obviously wouldn’t have known) was war so that blasted itself into Horses, too…. anyway, this is a digression… but it explains why it was so special to me to go to the house with the blue gate where magical events organised by the wizardess, Hilda, take place.
Oh, and Cultured Llama poets, Rose Cook and Richard Thomas, are featuring at Uncut Poets in Exeter on Thursday night…. more about recent poetic events in Devon another time! These llamas certainly contribute to our culture.