Sunday, February 03, 2008

Warwick Castle: a first visit

My version of The Wanderer continues. Slowly, painstakingly. About four lines a day on average. This must be the longest it's ever taken me to write a single poem. Perhaps I ought to be worried. Still, this being a translation/version, I suppose it should be possible to take a good month over the composition without losing the thread ... after all, this poem's been kicking about for so many hundreds of years, it's not going anywhere.

The big news is, I finally organised myself to visit Warwick Castle this weekend. And I was impressed. The place had an immediate and profound effect on me; I could feel lines and phrases carving themselves out on the air as I wandered about its high-ceilinged halls and narrow stone passageways.

For those unsure what this visit is all about, I decided back in October - on becoming Poet Laureate for Warwick - that I wanted to write some poems about Warwick Castle - once in decline, now beautifully restored and one of the best examples of a 'working' medieval castle in England.

My friend Julie Boden, based here in Warwickshire and herself a former Birmingham Poet Laureate, advised me early on to decide what sort of legacy I wanted to leave behind once my stint in the Laureateship was over. And while I had all sorts of grandiose schemes in mind, the only one that's really stuck has been this simple idea of writing about Warwick Castle.

Oddly enough, David Morley was also there this weekend, a major Warwickshire poet and the writer in charge of the creative writing programme at Warwick University; I spotted him in the 'medieval' cafeteria, lunching with his family, and went over to say hello.

Apparently fancying himself as the man from Porlock, David stopped for a quick word a few minutes later while I was scribbling down some notes and phrases over a latté. Luckily, I have no intention of starting to write any of the Warwick poems until much later this year, so his efforts were in vain!

Basically, my visits this weekend have been purely preliminary, just looking about the place and setting my mind in motion. But it's proved an extremely worthwhile thing to do, far beyond what I had initially envisaged.

At first, I thought Warwick Castle might provide inspiration for two or three poems. But having received such strong vibes both from the castle and its grounds, I've got a hunch this could easily become a much longer-term project.

Time to start blocking in 'Warwick Castle poems' on the calendar, perhaps.


Panther said...

I look forward to reading some Warwick castle poems in due course ! 2 or 3 or 50-whatever ! It's exciting, isn't it ? when one goes to a place and it throws if not poems at you then at least poetic vibes.

Andrew Shields said...

One of the things I did when I was a circus elephant in Leamington Spa was go to the reenactment of the siege of that castle. It was too loud for my sensitive ears. :-)