Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 22 November 2010

  • Stagshaw Fair

    If there’s a spectre in the air, it’s hard
    to find in the mizzle smudging the line
    between land and sky and the Blackface herd
    that scatters as I swing past the footpath sign.

    I know this place, these roads, like my own bones
    and also love its secrets. I’ve walked
    the fair, the north, inside myself. Its stones
    are fallen walls, markers where the way forked.

    A constellation of returning birds
    offers itself as puzzle more than omen.
    Where do we think we live?
    I sift the words
    in layers. Who with? Gorse. Redwing. Roman.

    Whether we go to the fair, or we don’t,
    won’t we all come home pockets full of ghosts?

    by Linda France

    Copyright © Linda France, 2010.

    'Stagshaw Fair' is taken from You are Her (2010), published by Arc Publications.

    Notes courtesy of Arc:

    Linda France was born in Wallsend, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and for the past 16 years has lived close to Hadrian’s Wall, near Corbridge in Northumberland. She works as a poet (she has published 11 collections of poetry), tutor, mentor and editor, often collaborating with visual artists, particularly in the field of Public Art. Since 1990 her poetry has won many awards and prizes as well as being carved into stone and wood, cast in metal, etched in glass, stitched onto fabric and printed on enamel. Her recurring themes are landscape and history, flora and fauna, love and identity.

    Linda France found the title for her new collection, You are Her, on a fading information board at Hadrian's Wall, not far from where she lives. Locating and disorientating at the same time, it set the co-ordinates for a body of work on boundaries and identity, damage and absence. At the heart of the book is a section looking at Nature and Cultivation through the life and work of Capability Brown, who was born in Northumberland in 1716. A horse-riding accident in 1995 fractured France's spine and cracked her pelvis. This injury, although on the surface healed, re-emerged in the form of flashbacks and chronic pain ten years later when several of her friends died in close succession. Many of the poems in You are Her chart the passage of grief and resolution, a cycle of re-orientation. You can find out more Linda France here, and and read further selections from the book here.

    Since it was founded in 1969, Arc has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. Find out more about Arc by visiting the publisher's website, where there are discounts available on Arc books.