Wednesday 21 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (3) Zennor and the Mermaid

Zennor, the road to St Senara's church

Those of you who have read the last couple of posts will know that on our recent visit to Cornwall we revisited some of the settings for the poems in my new poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, and available here at the UK price of £6.99.

The photo above shows me in Zennor, a village with many literary associations; writers from D.H. Lawrence to Helen Dunmore and Michael Morpurgo have written about this area. It features in one of my favourite poems, 'Zennor', by Anne Ridler (which I once requested successfully for BBC Poetry Please). It is also the setting for my poem, 'Zennor Voices', p.19 in Driftwood by Starlight.



The churchyard holds a number of interesting memorials. The one below is in memory of Dr William Borlase (1696-1772), Vicar of Zennor and well-known antiquarian.


This following photo shows a plaquel commemorating John Davey, one of the last fluent speakers of Cornish before plans were laid to breathe new life into the language in our own day.  

The slate sundial (1737), which adorns the south wall of the bell tower, bears the name of its maker, Paul Quick. Another local person to bear the surname 'Quick' was Henry Quick, also of Zennor, who was known for his poems.

And finally ... we come to the 'mermaid chair', linked to the local legend about a mortal man who fell in love with a mermaid. How does the story end?

Monday 19 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (2) The Penwith Moors


I have loved the moors in West Penwith for many, many years. The air is clear and there is a feeling of being almost surrounded by the sea, as it laps around edges of the peninsula below. The wide open spaces (no crowds up here, as you can see!) give rise to a sense of history and prehistory. 


Archaeologists and others have long mused over the meaning of the holed stone of granite in the photograph, a stone that has clearly been associated with different purposes at different times in its long existence. I expect a good number of sheep, and possibly cattle, have rubbed up against it over the centuries. The Cornish name for this monument (see signpost above) means simply 'stone with hole'. The orange arrow points to the monument.


You can see one of my favourite tin mine pumping engine houses (over the Greenburrow Shaft) from here. 

This particular mine has a very memorable name. My short poem about it features in my new first full collection of poetry, Driftwood by Starlight, published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, and available at the UK price of £6.99.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

'Driftwood by Starlight' in Cornwall: (1) Cadgwith


Photo: David Gill

My first full poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, was published a few days before David and I headed off to Cornwall, the setting for a number of the poems in the book.

The photograph above shows me on the foreshore at Cadgwith, a small cove on The Lizard peninsula that holds a special place in my heart. I have known and loved this area virtually all my life.

Cadgwith appears on the front cover of my book, thanks to the wonderful night-time photography of Laurence Hartwell of Through the Gaps (thank you, Laurence). What you may, or may not, have noticed is that, serendipitously, there is a boat behind my left shoulder in the photograph above called 'Starlight'. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.


My love affair with Cadgwith came about as a result of a poem by Lionel Johnson, which intrigued and entranced my father, and made him keen to discover the cove for himself back in the 1960s. I quote part of Johnson's poem in the book.  


Cadgwith at low tide, from The Todden

Driftwood by Starlight was published in June 2021 by poet and publisher, Peter Thabit Jones, at The Seventh Quarry Press. Many, but not all, of the poems have coastal settings. In addition to Cornwall, these include Wales (I lived in Swansea for 20 years), Scotland (home to ancestors on my mother's side) and Suffolk (where I live now). If you would like to purchase a copy (£6.99 UK price), please click this link to The Seventh Quarry Shop (online).