The Maker The Charles Causley Literary Blog
April Musings by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
The garden is beginning to look interesting with a bit of colour. The sun is warmer now even on a cold day, so it feels like spring is fully on its way. It could be a time for new beginning. I am attending an online Arvon course for five weeks through April/early May, ‘Towards a Collection’. I hope this will help me make progress with a collection I am putting together about my itinerant life with the British Council where I changed countries every three or four years. There is a lot to write about if I can get my memory to play ball! I had a sudden flush of writing over a recent weekend, which will give me more choice as to what goes into the collection, but at the same time makes decision-making more difficult! Some of the poems undoubtedly won’t make the cut.
I was very excited to receive copies of my new poetry and art book ‘Sleeping Under Clouds’ on Easter Sunday, published by Clayhanger Press. The initial activity which ties in with the promotion of the book is the solo exhibition of artist Sula Rubens’ work which opens 22 April at Mandells Gallery in Norwich, for a month. Sula and I will do a talk in the Gallery about our collaboration the following Saturday 29 April. There will be a poetry launch on Zoom the first week in May, so if any reader would like to attend, please contact me via the contact box on my wordpress site (see below),
Having met Penelope Shuttle at the Causley Trust’s Winter Warmer retreat, I bought her book Lyonesse. It fascinates me that Cornwall has a story of a land lost underwater. In her poem ‘Many brave hearts are asleep in the deep, so beware, beware’ Penelope writes:
The sea casts new bells for Lyonesse
out of the debris of lobster carcass
wriggle-writhe of conger eel
everyday sandgrains and shells
In Suffolk too, we talk of lands lost. ‘Doggerland’ connected the East of England with the main European continent. Julia Blackburn wrote a wonderful book ‘Time Song – Searching for Doggerland’ published by Jonathan Cape in 2019 which includes memoir and poetry. Also of course, the disappearance of Dunwich under the waves is a well-known fact of history. A bell is said to ring. Blake Morrison has written a poem called ‘Dunwich’ in his book Shingle Street, published by Chatto and Windus, 2015. He writes of disappearing graves, lost to the sea. Blake performs this and other East Anglian poems with the Hosepipe Band.
Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago:
The sea has encroached
century upon century, violent storms
besieging the shore, eroding cliffs.
Ghostly bells of long-lost churches
are said to ring deep in the night,
a perfect strain of praise,
a beseeching plea to God
who, in his wisdom,
allowed most of the town to drown.
I could hold a candlelit vigil
for those lying beneath the waves
if only I knew their names.
Pilgrims may visit the priory ruins
and choirs sing of holy suffering,
but the sea does not give back the dead.
If you would like to contact me to comment or follow up, please send me an email via the contact box on my website