Castle Hill at dusk

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The Castle Hill area of Cambridge is almost certainly the oldest continuously inhabited part of the city – it is here that the Roman fort was established in the first century CE. Perhaps this is why the whole area, which is still a tangle of streets and alleyways, once you leave the wide ring road that snakes through it, has a sense of strangeness and dislocation. You are very close to the hyper-busy tourist areas of the colleges and shops, but there is a sense of being threaded into the density of the past, the whole area has a slightly eerie quietly brooding atmosphere that clogs the arteries of one’s immediate concerns…. Continue reading

Mist and relics on Southampton Water

Woke to find a blank impassive wall of fog, plaster board grey, utterly featureless, where there would normally be a view of the estuary from my father’s back garden. Every few minutes the fog horn would let out its erie drone, to be absorbed immediately by the blanketing silence.

Two hours later and the first faint shapes of the oil refinery terminal at the seaward end of the estuary were beginning to appear. The grain of pragmatic reality condensing out of the ether…

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In Search of Nine Wells

In Search of Nine Wells

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A day of sharp westerlies and burnished hedgerows…

There is a local beauty spot just next to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambs, called Nine Wells. Here in a small wood several springs rise from a chalk aquifer and wind their way through hidden water-courses amongst beech trees and scrub. A magical place, but these days very close indeed to ‘civilisation’ – an entire city of gleaming bio-tech complexes is being built on its doorstep.

However, there are two other woods called Nine Wells in South Cambridgeshire. One assumes it must be a very ancient name for a wood with several springs, perhaps sacred to a local goddess. So on a cold bright Friday morning in November I set off by bike for the Nine Wells wood near Whittlesford. Continue reading

Ascent! A walk to the highest point in Cambridgeshire

Ascent! A walk to the highest point in Cambridgeshire

A morning walk on the borders of Cambridgeshire and Essex, shimmering fine rain, heavy cloud and bursts of sun. A sultry, thickened end of summer day. The village of Great Chishill is marked on the OS map as being 479 feet above sea level, giving its fortunate residents expansive views over a land of sprawling cornfields and caucuses of dark woods clumped on the hill tops. To the north the land drops sharply away to the plains of central Cambridgeshire, to the south the more  wooded, gently bounding lands of north Essex.

Next to the church the road drops away down to the plains, with cottages on each side, a little bit like Gold Hill, Shaftesbury:

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Cantos for a Post Modern age: Mark Tredinnick

Just posted to our literature pages: a review of Mark Tredinnick’s, Bluewren Cantos (Pitt Street Poetry) by Colin Pink

Colin Pink says:

“Tredinnick’s poetry combines the personal, the spiritual and the natural worlds into one intricate web of meaning. There’s a richness to his work that resonates from bringing these perspectives together. One might say, rubbing them together creates the friction that ignites these poems into a pure and memorable flame.:

Read the full review here: TREDINNICK REVIEW

Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick

Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies (collected poems 1952-2012)

Hill reading in Leeds last year

Hill reading in Leeds last year

 

Any would-be reviewer of this large volume is in danger of falling into abashed silence. What can one say about the life’s work of the person who is without doubt England’s greatest living poet, the only authentic carrier of the torch lit by Pound and Eliot? I imagine that those who first held the collected poems of Yeats in their hands must have felt the same way. As Yeats was the brilliant last, late flowering of the entire Romantic tradition in poetry, the same might be said of Hill as regards the hieratic high modernism of Pound and Eliot. Continue reading

Editor’s Blog – thoughts on art, life and everything

In memory and celebration: Seamus Heaney

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Seamus Heaney died on August 30th this year at the age of 74 after a short illness – he had taken a fall outside a Dublin restaurant. Physically he had been weaker since a stroke in 2006, but his last collection Human Chain (2010) showed no dimmunition in his powers of sensitivity and reflection. It was described by Ruth Pardell, poet and judge of the Forward Prize, as ‘a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems… a wonderful and humane achievement’ (Human Chain was the first of his collections to win that prize – perhaps the only major poetry award he had not so far received.)

His previous collection District and Circle (2006) likewise contained several intensely moving poems with an elegiac mood. It was characteristic of the man, loved by so many – poets, writers and millions of others around the world – to have been preparing us, and himself, for his expected departure, with down to earth images of both mortality and on going life. Continue reading