Tuesday Poem: North


On Ilkley Moor
I parked me red
Ford Laser hatchback
and gazed to the north.
Rain and smoke stood over Wharfedale.

It was all in its appointed place:
stone houses and stone smiles in Ilkley
the wind on the bleak
insalubrious bracken.

I was waiting for memory
to make the scene complete:
some flat-vowelled voice out of childhood
snatches of Northern song.

For memory read TV:
Tha’ve broken tha poor Mother’s heart
It were only a bit of fun.
Bowl slower and hit bloody stumps.

Tha’ll never amount to much, lad. In cloth cap and gaiters,
car forgotten, I pedal down the hill. Hurry oop
or tha’ll be late for mill. Folk say
I’ve been seeing the young widow Cleghorn.
Well, now, fancy that.

In my invented character
I trail my falsified heritage
down the long, consoling streets.

Tim says:I was born in Cleethorpes, near Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, UK (just south of Yorkshire) and my family moved to New Zealand when I was two.

I returned to the UK in 1989, when I was 30, and spent much of my time there in Grimsby and points north. It was hard not to wonder what my life would have been like if my family had remained “oop North”. TV shows such as Brass provided invaluable guidance.

“North” was published in my first poetry collection, Boat People (HeadworX, 2002).

Boat People is my first poetry collection. It was published in 2002 by HeadworX, the year after my first short fiction collection, Extreme Weather Events. There are forty poems in Boat People.

Copies of Boat People are available directly from me at the cheap, cheap price of NZ $5.00 plus postage and packing. Please email me at senjmito@gmail.com if you’d like one.

Check out the Tuesday Poem blog for all the Tuesday Poems.

Good News from Ireland

New Zealander Heidi North has just won the 1,000 Euro first prize in the Adult English section of the 2007 International Féile Filíochta Poetry Competition in Ireland with her poem The Women.

That’s great news: great for Heidi, great for New Zealand poetry, but also especially pleasing to me because Heidi and I were part of the 2003 intake for the Victoria University undergraduate creative writing paper CREW 256 Writing the Landscape, taught by Dinah Hawken.

I have ambivalent feelings about creative writing courses in general, but my feelings about this course remain quite unmixed: it’s great. Dinah is a wonderful tutor, the course (covering landscape writing in both poetry and creative non-fiction) was excellent, and the group of students in 2003 – twelve of us, eight women and four men, ranging in age from early 20s to considerably older, and with widely differing levels of prior writing experience – really clicked. Some fine work was written on that course (and not all of it was about penguins mating under the floorboards of the houses on Matiu-Somes).

About half the original group still live in and around Wellington. After the course finished, many of us continued to meet regularly to share our work; we don’t meet so often any more, but we still catch up from time to time. Many of those unpublished at the time of the course have gone on to subsequent publication, and Heidi isn’t the only one to be making a name for herself: I expect I’ll be mentioning the successes of other members of the group sooner rather than later.

I like Heidi’s poem a lot, and I’m delighted for her success. If you’re at all interested in landscape and nature writing, or if you’re simply interested in becoming a better writer, and you live in the Wellington region, I can recommend Writing the Landscape as a course that’s well worth taking.