As those of you who get our regular newsletter will know my husband Rob has what they used to call a 'slim volume' out. Bay of Ghosts by Rob Hawley is the second of Bradford based Graft Poetry's new series of poetry pamphlets.
It is very hard when you are interested in landscape to write about the north of England after Ted Hughes, and it is hard to write about growing up in the north of England post Simon Armitage, and yet I am proud that Rob has found a way though this and writes about scenes from Yorkshire and Lancashire, past and present, in his own voice. Even with a wife's prejudice I can see Bay of Ghosts does not particularly innovate, but that allows theme and subject to rise above form in a very readable way. Interestingly the northern poet it reminds me most of is actually Andrew Marvell, with dialogues, and personification, and dealing with matters ecological as much as theological, historiographical as well as as metaphysical, the slight echo is there.
I've heard Tom Paulin use the phrase, 'white Gothic', and I think such intense shocks of white and light, form part of the charm of Bay of Ghosts, from the white wraiths of the past to the repeated glimmers of water and flickers of fire and candles. Snapshots appear, drawing heavily on mindfulness, but the whole reaches repeatedly back into the past and constantly pushes at ideas of the future, keeping, at the back of the reader's mind, a conceit of the ebb and flow of time beyond the fashionable idea of the 'moment'.
As to subject matter, there are poems here on Morecambe Bay and the Yorkshire Dales, on Maria and Elizabeth Bronte, on books and collecting, on teaching and reading to children, on a death his grandmother witnessed as a young married woman (the deceased is a husband named only in relation to his wife; a sort of reverse second Mrs de Winter), on trees, on John Clare, and more. Overall, it is a thoughtful and entertaining 28 pages and I am delighted Graft Poetry were keen to publish it.
Should any of that pique your interest, copies of Bay of Ghosts are available in my online shop and at book fairs. £4 plus postage. If you require a signed copy that is easily arranged.
Finally, I should add that the haunting photograph of Morecambe Bay that illustrates the cover is by the wonderful Joe Nash.