Episode 8: Terri Mullholland and Siân Thomas - The Abandoned House

The Abandoned House

This latest podcast features a dialogue between Terri Mullholland and Siân Thomas, inspired by Siân’s poem, ‘The Abandoned House’. Amongst other venues, Terri and Siân presented their dialogue at the Shifting Territories conference in May 2013. Together with their discussion, they also showed a number of photographs of the particular house in Sussex, which were taken by the photographer Caroline Pooley. These are also presented here.

In this recording, Siân reads her poem, and then talks about how she discovered the house. The discussion touches upon various issues related to the poem and to Terri’s own research, including: how a critical-creative dialogue works, the idea of the ruin in literature, the association of memory with place, the presentation of decay in poetry, and the effect of development on the Weald in East Sussex. 'The Abandoned House' originally appeared in issue #7, 'Time and Memory' of SWAMP: An Online Magazine for Postgraduate Creative Writing.

Terri Mullholland holds a doctorate in English from the University of Oxford.  Her thesis explored the space of the boarding house in 1930s women’s literature, and she is finalising her first book based on that research.

Terri's teaching and research interests are in modernism, women’s writing, poetry, and critical and cultural theory (in particular, theories about space and architecture and their application to literature). Terri has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Oxford and is currently researching a new book on literary representations of ruined domestic space.

Siân Thomas is a poet whose work is informed by the woods and hidden valleys of the Sussex Weald. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Agenda, TheDaily Telegraph, Poetry Wales, SwampThe Rialto and the anthology London Rivers. Her pamphlet,  Ovid's Echo , is published by Paekakariki Press and she is currently completing her first collection WealdWife. Siân holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex and is Poet in Residence for Ashdown Forest.

Caroline Pooley is a photographer based in Sussex.

The Abandoned House

Past hope, past hunger,
I’m loose steps,

fly-by-night boards,
brambles sprawled upon a chair,

missing banisters,
the footprints of foxes,

cupboards of workaday and best china,
records; tins of polish, paraffin.

I’m folding inwards
till my roof collapses,

till mortar falls from brick
and plants seal me

in this homeless home,
this seed case.

Here’s the fire I set for warmth
or to end, to still

the talk of rodents,
the tongues of curtains.

by Siân Thomas