20 Jan 2017 / Totleigh Barton
It has rained all week
of love and home and of your baby boy
and shut your book and put your pen away
and, outside, nothing is but green and grey,
so wet with rain that it must never dry.
It’s later than you thought, and what remains
but this? to walk out past the raspberry canes
barefoot, to drop your sweater on the lawn,
to cast off everything along the lane,
wade into open country and the rain.
And at the tree-line turn but once to look
at where you’ve come from, if you will, then back
into the nearer birch and farther oak
and know your skin is stiffening with bark
or bristling with fur. The wood is dark
and all you know of love and all of pain
is falling from you. All you know is rain.
from Take This One to Bed (Valley Press, 2016)
Some of them feature the landscape around the house, one features a group of school kids I’d taught on a previous course and one of them features my co-tutor, Julia Copus, breaking into my room to leave ear-plugs on my bedside table after I’d mentioned some noisy owls.
‘It has rained all week’ is an imaginary walk away from Totleigh Barton into oblivion.
I’ve been a tutor there, I think, six or seven times since 2010 and Totleigh Barton’s become my omphalos, somehow – the place that makes me write. I write very little poetry normally but, during my occasional weeks at the house, 327 miles from home, the stuff just pours out of me.
And the people! All those brilliant people in love with words and the craft of poetry who’ll stay up late drinking wine and eating cheese and talking about poetry and spend all day wrestling with poetry and giving me new ideas about poetry.
It’s been a while since I’ve been, and I’ve been missing it desperately, so I’m delighted to be going back this October to work, once again, with Catherine Smith and our guest poet John McCullough. We’ll be exploring how we can turn interesting stories into unforgettable poems and how we can find fresh ways to make poetry out of familiar subjects. I can’t wait to see what we’re all going to write.
Antony Dunn is a poet, and Arvon tutor. His next poetry course, co-tutored by Catherine Smith, is at Totleigh Barton on October 23 – October 28 2017. Booking and more info.
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