Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Joan Cairns in Heptonstall

Joan Cairns lives in Yorkshire. A close friend describes Joan as: 88, without computer, and still going strong...

The poem that follows was sent-in by Joan's friend to the Poet-in-Residence Poetry2010 page. It appears here on the main Poet-in-Residence blog because, quite simply, it's brilliant. After reading it, I'm sure you will agree.


This place returns to me
from lost childhood.
The valley,
dark as an empty sack,
coughs out a waterfall.
Pleated hills
bear down
with unimaginable weight,
tilting folk
out of the vertical.

I walk the stone flags
where once I could run,
remembering their damp sweat,
the ringworm lichen.

This place would wring your neck
if you let it.
Here, where the wind
splinters your bones
I see a harebell,
too frail to shatter.

c-Joan Cairns

Now read Joan Cairns' poem - 'Celebration' - via the Poetry2010 icon >>>


  1. It is good, isn't it?

    I last went to Heptonstall quite recently (in fact, drove past it, up from "the valley, dark as an empty sack" yesterday) to visit Sylvia Plath's grave.

    Used to go rock climbing there years ago, to the fearsome-looking Heptonstall Quarry. (In fact, I accidentally left my Yorkshire Gritstone guidebook on a ledge half way up). That certainly tilts you "out of the vertical"!

  2. Ohh! its really really brilliant, ....especially the last, in fact all of it! absolutely,

    have been reading here for a while...though not commenting, and thank you for such fine introductions, PIR :)


  3. brilliant is absolutely the word

  4. Thank you for putting Joan's poem on your blog Gwilym. She will be delighted when I tell her.
    Let me tell you a little about the poet:-

    She was a professional singer until retirement and is also an accomplished pianist. She is soon to be 89 and is 'as fresh as a daisy'. Quite recently she had a serious operation but refused to let it interfere with her 'social calendar' and is already back at keep fit classes and always busy.
    She writes poetry a lot and I think it is always as good as this one.

  5. Pat, thank you for the background on Joan Cairns. And yes, her poems are very special. I've only read twoand I'm already her biggest fan!
    In my opinion the poems, which obviously have important things to say and say them well, should be published in a thick book. Perhaps they already are? Certainly they must never be lost.
    My best wishes and thanks to you and to Joan.

  6. Devika,
    thank you for your nice words

    Good? It's not good, it's much better than "good".
    By the way, I have done some training runs with the Harriers - one through the fearsome quarry I seem to recall.

    And I see that rock climbing is one of your many talents. Is there anything you haven't yet done, Dominic?

    John, thanks again. Och aye!

  7. Devika,
    I've put a link to your site. So much of interest. Everybody should read, for example, about the 'Two Cows'.

  8. No issues, Gwylim (thats better)....yeah its one which i too found very interesting, :)

    but i thought it could be one of those other blogs...where i jot things in the name of poetry...anyway, its issues :)


  9. Oh my! rather...i must be thanking you for the link, Gwylim...thank you :)


  10. Devika, I've looked at all your blogs. You have some interesting poems there. No comments possible - but that's OK.

  11. Dominic, did you take a photo of the grave? Are you going to write about it on your blog?

  12. Thank you Gwylim...yes, I had to close it, but so nice of you to say that :)


  13. reading your blog and enjoying excellent world of poetry and expressions..



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