Diary of a Poet Hunter

heath 5Journal entry: Wednesday 19th June

by Sarah Acton

Week 7 of the Jurassic Coast poetry residency, this month hosted by Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh Salterton, East Devon. A day of research in the wider Lower Otter Valley.

The day after the thunder and lightening.

In the middle of the night we silently debated whether of not to throw open the curtains, which were electrically charged and flashing with the rain-less storm outside. A temper without tears of release.

When I awoke I checked my phone every half an hour to see if my appointments were cancelled due to the fog of grey that seemed to be closing in on the village here.

I left home early to go to an appointment in Seaton with another visitor centre to see if they would like to host some poetry workshops next year. All was going swimmingly until I mentioned a fee. Could I make a grant application instead? Memories of an unfinished grant application looms in my mind hazing the long view, and I just know this conversation is over before my friend stands up and and I finish my tea quickly and follow her to the door.

So this is the way of things. And there is a slight feeling that I could have done better, that I can be more positive about funding my own events, and a hope that it will happen even so.

Then it time to drive through the fog to collect my poet-friend from Bath who works with stone. We drive into the white-smothered fog and wait in a pub car park for a professor of archaeology and anthropology. What if he doesn’t come? I didn’t get his number and…

He comes.

We leave my car at the car park and head up tiny winding lanes with full-bodied hedges towards the heath. We park and follow our professor up a track opening out into the wild and open magnificence of space that is heath. Like a sea it stretches out with purple heather and dry bleached grasses. We tramp over the desire lines to cairns and through ferns and bramble. We bounce and spring through gorse and fall and stumble into slip-trenches designed to give the marines an even harder time.

On the pebblebed heath is an ancient warmth of love shown by settlers of the bronze age by the cairns so carefully placed, and the imagined camp over in the field beyond the heath boundary looks like home even without a trace over the wheat fields.

Sun heats our shirts and we traipse through hidden waist-high paths back to the car.

A pasty from the bakery and my friend back to the train station and Bath. Now here I am and there is so much work to be done, for I am the heath hunter roving and loving the land, with wild poems to track down before night. Sniffing the sweet summer air for scent. Taking only what I need of the day to feed my pen and paying gratitude for the rest in prayer.

heath 2


5 thoughts on “Diary of a Poet Hunter

  1. Beautiful post – I was with you on your journey, watching the rain-less storm, hovering in the car park and waiting for the inspiration from the beauty of nature that is all around you, which will surely come. Enjoy that journey. xx


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