Friday 17 December 2021

Beast of Bodmin - my commissioned poem for Cornwall AONB

When my seventh poetry collection, Mama Amazonica, won Simon Armitage's inaugural Laurel Prize, I received an extra gift – a commission to write a poem about my favourite Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain. I knew immediately I would write about Bodmin Moor – I now live in a deep valley just beneath the south-east corner of it. Every horse-lane bordered by high Cornish hedges opens to views of tors at the gate gaps. During strict lockdown I would walk the lanes and look up at always visible Sharptor and the Cheesewring. As soon as we were allowed to venture four miles by car, Brian my husband drove us to Kilmar Tor, off the bridle path that also leads to Hawkstor and Trewartha Tor. It's a steep climb to Kilmar Tor and got us fitter as it became a regular haunt. From the top, which is the third highest point in Cornwall, we can see Brown Willy, the highest tor, far across the other side of the moor, we can see Dartmoor on the horizon the other way, and the north and south coastlines. All the fauna and flora and land formations mentioned in my poem are loved discoveries. From the stonechats, skylarks, and bog asphodels, to the ponies we saw galloping across the plateau between Bearah Tor and the secret waterhole. I did what I love to do, which is to watch the pageants, while Brian took photos. I'm thrilled that Cornwall AONB have set my poem to aerial footage of the moor, grateful thanks to them, to Fin Davis for the film, and to Bodmin Way for the narration. I now have a series of moor and beast poems.