Rachel Bower, born in Bradford (not far from where I was brought up) and now living in Sheffield (where I was married), writes in her ‘My North’ biographical piece that accompanies all the poems in the project, about hearing Tony Harrison (one of my early poetic heroes) and realising that “that poetry could not only be read in a Yorkshire accent, like mine, but could actually be written for a Northern voice.”
So, my response settled comfortably into the cadence and grammar of the accent and dialect I grew up with (this is what I sounded like when I was six), though I’ve never been quite comfortable with how to render the glottal stop without it seeming merely comic. But, to my native voice was added a vocabulary I was hitherto largely unfamiliar with: that of the names of apple varieties. One of the many joys of interacting so closely with the Poem of the North project has been following references and allusions to discover new things (and sometimes, admittedly, to let my arrant pedantry get the better of me – hence the reference to the shoemaker’s garden being in Keswick).
I reckon Evie were a northern lass, goading Adam
on to nick that blessed-cursed fruit that caused the fall.
I can just see her now, a Yorkshire Beauty (aren’t all archetypes
by definition spliced from our rootstock?) strapping on a shoe
(by Greenup, made in Keswick, as it goes)
to stamp on th’snake, and spit at it the pips,
shaking the earth, and all that would be in it, to its core:
an act of gravity rewriting (so it’s said) heaven’s laws.
The fall of Flower of Kent was watched by Newton
sat in Grantham, in a garden. That gave him pause:
The apple draws the earth, as well as earth the apple draws.
This was also the first piece where I found myself following the 8-2-1 form. Maybe the closeness I felt to the voice of the original, or maybe the gravity thematically at the heart of my response pulled me in that direction.
(Is Grantham in the North? Well, compared with Kent, it is…