The New Statesman magazine has published a poem written by an award-winning University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) academic to mark the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Published for the first time, ‘Dear Tor’, written by acclaimed poet Dr Yvonne Reddick, who holds a Leadership Fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), reflects on the everyday dangers of the pandemic and celebrates the freedom to reconnect with a much-loved landscape after months of isolation.
“The poem celebrates small, everyday freedoms: accessing the countryside after months of needing to stay at home for our own safety and the safety of others. “— UCLan academic and acclaimed poet Dr Yvonne Reddick, who holds a Leadership Fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council
“I’m honoured to be providing the poem that the New Statesman have selected to chime with the mood as restrictions are lifted” said Dr Reddick. “The poem celebrates small, everyday freedoms: accessing the countryside after months of needing to stay at home for our own safety and the safety of others.
“The ‘Tor’ that the poem is about is a small outcrop of rock on the hill Kinder Scout, in the Peak District. It has magical views of the Great Ridge and faces the beautifully-named Hope Valley. Since 1932, Kinder Scout has been associated with the ‘right to roam’ and enjoy the countryside.
“While we quite rightly needed to stay at home for many months, a simple walk outdoors becomes especially meaningful after so many months of uncertainty. I’m thrilled that it’s being published at this time.”
By Yvonne Reddick
I’ve been away a year, Tor, I’ve needed your grit, the blink of light
in the fissure at your heart. Tor, those were the months the city shuddered.
Breath was taxed. Air was weaponised. Locks clicked their steel tongues shut,
stayed mute. Goldfinches on the building site. Mushrooms infested the wood
panels on my balcony. Moss rioted, an underfoot forest; bird’s nest
fern and hart’s tongue by the potted lettuce. Squadrons of flies.
I need heather-honey air, Tor, I need the rainy breeze as I need water.
Give me your sedimentary, patient endurance. The wind breathing in you,
the same view down to the valley for millennia; rain laving you,
moor-grass feathering your chin, bilberries springing at the corner
of your eye. Tor, years stream from your back, you who remember
when this rainlicked upland was estuary, when the Edges
sailed at the equator and land was wave. Tor, give us time.