This new collection draws poems from here, there and anywhere. As is unavoidable, some sit in the South Yorkshire and Derbyshire hills and valleys and others have their place on Vancouver Island where I now have mine. Others draw on locations far away from my homes.
The collection contains 50 poems and 25 photographic illustrations from Russell Hague. I am most grateful for Russell’s involvement and the opportunity he has presented for me to collaborate with such a skilled interpreter of landscape. Although I am now far from the place where I was born, Russell still lives close by. So much so that he has only to go a few steps from his home to look across the valley to what was once the Wilson farm.
My approach to my kind of poetry is to write in a way that most will find accessible. Because I am a short-story writer many of the poems are in effect, condensed stories. Some are far from serious and some to my surprise, are a little more than they first appear. I hope some make you smile, reflect and remember. I know that you will enjoy Russell’s illustrations and I hope that you will find that they complement the poetry well.
I met Peter on my first day at school. He was a relatively near neighbour of ours on the edge of Loxley village in South Yorkshire not far from the big steel city of Sheffield. Our dairy farm at Loxley House Farm was about fifteen minutes’ walk away across the fields from Peter’s home. That snowy day in 1947 was the beginning of eleven years attending the same schools and playing numerous games of football (as in real football with a round ball) and cricket together. We watched many Sheffield Wednesday games together and remained friends despite my absence at times overseas. Peter, who was a fully qualified accountant and financial adviser, continued to play cricket until he realised that his hand eye coordination had deteriorated well beyond what was normal for his age and level of fitness.
After he found he had MS and after another friend was also diagnosed I decided that when I could I would raise funds and support research and the therapeutic care for those living with the disease. My first involvement was a 32 mile walk from Bradford (where I had worked in the university for many years) to home to coincide with my 60th birthday. This eventually produced over £1,500 in sponsorship. A self-published book of poetry titled Blackberries followed in 2006 raising a similar amount. Since moving to Canada I have published two collections of poetry in 2013 (reprinted 2015) and 2016 with all the revenue to MS charities. I have also allocated all profits from sales of my two books of short stories (2012 and 2015) to the same cause as well as earnings from my ‘Just Like Downton’ presentations.
Richard and Gwenda Chadwick have provided me with generous financial backing for the production of ‘Chasing Crows,’ ‘Apple Man’ and 'Crows in the Apple Tree' from their Chadwick Foundation. Richard and I lived in the same university residence in Leeds for four years from 1960 and have been friends ever since. He was my best man when Elaine and I were married and vice versa the following year when he and Gwenda were married.