I initially came across the name, Edward Thomas, many years ago through the poet's most widely known poem, 'Adlestrop'. Since then I have visited the site of the small village station that fell victim to the Beeching cuts and I have also visited Dymock.
Prior to fighting in France, Thomas spent the last years of his life in the small Hampshire village of Steep. I knew the village through two other tribute poems, 'All day it has rained' and 'To Edward Thomas' by Alun Lewis, but had never had the chance to visit.
so too have the doves flown was being launched at the Winchester Poetry Festival - and with Steep only twenty miles from the venue, the opportunity finally presented itself.
It did not take long to spot the poet's name. There was also commemorative stained glass by Laurence Whistler. We left the church and drove past Bedales before proceeding on our way up Stoner Hill, under the leafy canopy of Ashford Hangers.
|David checking out the exhibition area|
We came across Pam Job and Judith Wolton with Stephen Boyce, who is not only editor of so too have the doves gone but also trustee and co-Artistic Director of the Winchester Poetry Festival.
|Judith Wolton (with hand on top of board), CG, Pam Job and Stephen Boyce|
It was soon time to wander across the road to the Green Room ...
Stephen Boyce gave a welcome and an introduction before Judith and Pam delivered their presentation on the inspiration behind the anthology project.
|Reading 'Literally, for this' ... with Pam Job behind the table|
The poems in the book are very varied and cover different eras and geographical locations, but all address the theme of conflict and our human response to times of war and unrest.
My thanks are due to the editorial team and to Stephen Boyce for inviting us to take part. The 2014 Winchester Poetry Festival 'had three interwoven themes: to commemorate the poetry of the First World War, to celebrate Hampshire’s contribution to our literary heritage and to bring together a fine array of leading contemporary poets.' I hear a rumour that a second festival is planned for 2016 ...
* * *Postscript
I was sorry to miss the Edward Thomas talk by Edna Longley, but I was delighted to sample a small slice of what the festival had on offer. As David's biscuit poem below demonstrates, there was something to suit all tastes ...
A little light relief was provided by the two Poetry Posties, who allowed a certain intruder ...
... to pedal off on their tricycle. I hope he delivered the pile of special poem packets. I, for one, was delighted to receive one of these from the Poetry Posties at The Poetree. I'm hoping the surprise contents will bear fruit in organic ways, both in my garden and at the tip of my pen.
|David riding off on The Poetree Poetry Postie tricycle|
- More on Edward Thomas and Steep
- Helen Thomas and Bedales
- David Gill and Caroline Gill, 'Leaving Town' and 'Swedes': Edward Thomas and Amen-Hotep, Notes and Queries 50 (2003), 325-327. [Online from Oxford University Press]