On Writing ‘Wuthering Heights’ & Other Poems

Glyn Edwards

Aside from ‘The Fox’, written on a late summer night waiting for the resident scavenger to attend common gull roadkill, these poems saw notebooks of scribbles find a shape of verse in an evening or two.  And they all needed an incentive for that to happen:

‘Wuthering Heights’ was three sides of notes written about my wife’s impractical October clothing choices.  We wound the sheep tracks above Haworth, stepping puddles and shunning the grey clouds until we reached Top Withens.  My wife had recently shown me Sylvia Plath’s poem about the site, together with Ted Hughes’ reply.  The latter poem studied a wife’s fascination with a writer and my notes took a similar form, trying to explain how adoration can ignore, neglect or, indeed, rejuvenate it.  I found it fascinating how she refused to see the moors as anything but harsh and colourless, Top Withens as anything but desolate and funereal.  It was perfect as a Christmas present.

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Photo by Jerome Theriault

‘L’Acalmie’ is the name of a well-known fishing boat stranded on the sands near Montreal.  Jerome Theriault, a Canadian photographer, had taken several stunning images of the wreck and published them  – all starlit skies, a city burning in the background – on Facebook.  He told me how the boat, now removed by the authorities after pirates tried to dismantle it for scrap metal plunder, had drawn artists and travellers.  I tried to imagine how this beached object had become a curiosity, how its uselessness had habitated it. How I could give a friend some affirmation to his artistry.

‘Seal Clubbing’ was written after a visit to West Wales.  It was, again, the starkness of the landscape that inspired a poem, yet this time I was prompted to imagine what could happen to one of the dozen inhabitants if they were there alone and starving.  Enjambment was used at the end of the third stanza to represent a pivot in the narrator’s voice and here, together with a change of tense, comes the revelation of his actions.  Nature will not allow him to forget his behaviour and so pervades his thoughts and senses. During the boat journey home, my wife suffered terrible sunburn, this poem was the subsequent evening spent hungrily in a hotel room.

Everything that gets written has to be done so economically.  So, if bursts of notes aren’t written at that moment a poem begins bubbling, nothing will ever come to fruition. It can’t. With teaching leaving precious little guilt-free time during the working week and a young son filling weekends, half-terms and holidays like a table covered in sprawling LEGO, a poem has to be half-finished before it’s begun.

It could be said these poems, each about transformation, were really just a way to ignore the inevitable piles of exercise books for a few hours.

biog photo 1Glyn F Edwards is a winner of the National Teaching Awards, the Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award and the Wales Poetry competition. His poems have been published by Cheval, Prole and the National Trust and he will be the resident poet and blogger at Chester Literature Festival in October. He is not the actor who played the barman in Only Fools and Horses.

Glyn F Edwards’ poems are featured in the new, Winter Issue of The Lonely Crowd. You can order a copy here.  To read the online only, ‘The Fox’, as well as print issue preview, ‘L’Acalmie’, please go here.

© Glyn Edwards, 2015. Banner photo © Jo Mazelis, 2015.