Thursday 7 October 2021

National Poetry Day 2021, Theme of 'Choice'


Upper left: Basil Brown's (reconstructed) shepherd's hut at NT Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Upper right: drystone beehive cell (for a monk) in the grounds of Kilmartin Museum, Scotland

Lower left: reconstruction of a Provençal 'borrie' for oxen (and shepherds, apparently), The Eden Project, Cornwall

Lower right: beach huts on the shore at Southwold, Suffolk


I have often envied writers who have or have had a 'shed' at their disposal for writing, reading and contemplation, whether the structure has been a driftwood hut, a remote bothy or a garden gazebo. Dylan Thomas and the Reverend R.S. Hawker both had writing huts with coastal views. I would definitely opt for one of these.  

Of course, it isn't only writers who have huts. The photograph below shows a hut on Romney Marsh in Kent, provided for the 'lookers', folk who were asked to care for huge flocks of sheep on behalf of the land owners, who considered the marsh an unhealthy place in which to live. 

Unlike the shepherds, who only minded a single flock, lookers were responsible for sheep belonging to more than one owner. The workers were based at their huts by day, and at lambing times found themselves camping out in them overnight. 

It seems ironic to me that the hut in the photo below, designed for these lookers, seems so devoid of windows. I see there is a stable-style door; I do not remember if there was a window at the back. Perhaps this hut was mainly used for the storage of tools and other equipment. The chimney suggests an internal fire place. 


Driftwood by Starlight (The Seventh Quarry Press, June 2021), my poetry collection, includes my poem 'Hawker's Hut' (p.29); Parson Hawker's driftwood structure nestles in the cliff above the sea at Morwenstow in Cornwall. 

'Hawker's Hut' was read out at Ipswich Library today as part of Suffolk Poetry Society's National Poetry Day reading on the theme of 'choice'.

Lookers' huts on Romney Marsh in Kent, like the one in the photograph above, are mentioned in my poem, 'Lost' (p.12). This poem also has an allusion to the poet, Edward Thomas. 


Driftwood by Starlight (The Seventh Quarry Press, June 2021) can be purchased online, here. The cost is £6.99/$10.