Monday, August 13, 2012


On the MA at Northumbria (2005-6) I found myself writing Haiku as commentary to the landscape around me. My tutor at the time commented that she did not see the point of them and "what was I trying to say?". Her voice has stayed in my head ever since then and I struggle to ignore it. I think my stuff is derivative and worthless. This feeling is compounded when this tutor is at poetry readings. The words get stuck in my throat and I just have to ignore the voices telling me to get a grip, stop thinking I have anything to say and shut  up!!
One of the haiku I wrote at the time was about Hownsgill viaduct near Consett. We crossed it on a bike ride and I was struck by its isolated position and the tree canopy below. It was in the local news last week. Officials are going to erect "anti-suicide fences" in an attempt to reduce the number of people who die there. Notices and the Samaritans' phone number has not deterred those who come there in deep despair.
It really got me thinking - along the Derwent valley there are a number of viaducts and this one seems to be the "hot-spot" for suicides. Is its isolation or is because of the depth of decline in and around the town and local countryside in that part of Durham.
Part of my problem back then was I rushed to do the MA and had not found my voice. I read the feedback I got from the MA at Newcastle (2007-8) and I realise I had just started my journey when I finished the course. I was just getting there when I got the qualification. Hey ho - maybe i can stay with the positive feedback i got from the Profs on that MA and silence the other.

Hownsgill Viaduct

A relic of the past when wagons
took  coals from Newcastle.
Men searched for meaning
now it only breeds

Folk come here to end this
in this place.
maybe they hope never to be found,
to disappear - vanish.

Land owners have to bring
the bodies in.
The bodies of those
the notices do not deter
from falling here.

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