Added Saturday, 1 December 2007
Saturday, December 8th 2007, 2.00 - 4.00 pm
Launch with readings of Two Marriages, a new work by Glyn Hughes - Artsmill, Linden Mill, Linden Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 7DN. (A selection with drawings from an autobiographical poem in progress)
Glyn Hughes's poetry has been a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and recipient of the Welsh Art's Council Poet's Prize. His novels have been awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize, the David Higham Prize, and been short-listed for the Whitbread. A recent poll of Guardian readers chose two of his books as "Eco Classics". The Times listed his earlier autobiography, Millstone Grit, as one of the "6 Best Ever" books on the North of England. Glyn has also written five well-received radio plays, some radio features and other journalism.
From Two Marriages:
But most important was our half-acre,
self-sufficient, organic garden.
Now that one can hardly find
a journalist who hasn’t tried living off the land,
or spent a gap-year in Provence,
and only chavs don’t buy "organic",
it’s difficult to recall that it was not in fashion,
was called "escapist" and backward-seeming.
Ours was a ground that needed to be broken.
"Oats in your first year, potatoes in your second,
and in the third year thou mi’t get a tilth,"
he told me; and I sensed an ancient wisdom
from a time when on the hills of Britain
they broke the ground this way.
"But tha’ll not grow nowt only grass up here,"
he added, and his three wild daughters agreed;
so did his bothered wife.
I went straight for the spuds, and shall not forget -
when the tops were yellowing, (I learned to wait for that) -
my first crop rising out of the ground,
like eggs so newly-laid,
they’ve hardly formed a shell, are soft and white,
and still internal as a mammal’s foetus.
No need to peel them. No need even
to rub the skin off, as one does
to test if they are fresh. You could smell them;
so lovely in their pale innocence,
until shaken, when the nest of dry soil
cosseted in their fibres fell from them,
and they fell from their roots.
At dawn I might be out
sifting compost through my hands:
the sweet product of earth-closet
and pig-shed, and, (to give it heat),
layered with green nettles scythed from that bank
of rejoicing birds by the stream.
A four-week cycle. I watched it sink,
and steam within its wooden bins.
Or I drenched myself in the cream light
that came as suddenly as an attack
through flowering hawthorns.
Out in the first simmer
of bird-call that began each summer
day and that before many more had passed
turned into a fever;
the perfect note blown time and again loud
from the deep breast of robin and thrush.
This world in its changes is Paradise enough,
its glide of seasons beauty enough,
I thought. All youth’s moments,
once reaped in fragmentary escapes,
had gathered here in a day by day,
I was drunk on the colours of flowers,
on the sweet deliciousness
of simply paying attention!
I seemed to draw birds out of the sky
down onto my sight, they were so vivid.
Observing it was Heaven to me.
of birds electric with apprehension;
or the weathering of a post
changed, as good things are, by time
to what is as differently fine
or maybe better.
Sometimes I felt all eye, all heart,
all love. Some trick of the light –
some trickster of the light –
among the hawthorns, say, would claim me.
it seemed I’d always lived, and would for ever
live in that stilled micro-second.
Glyn's poems on the Hebden Bridge Web