Tuesday 16 November 2021

James Nash, "Heart Stones"

James Nash is a writer and poet. A long-term resident of Leeds, his third collection of poems, Coma Songs, was published in 2003 and reprinted in 2006. He has two poems in Branch-Lines (Enitharmon Press, 2007), among fifty contemporary poets, including Seamus Heaney and U. A. Fanthorpe. 

Since 2012, his poetry has been published by Valley Press, beginning with selected poems, A Bit of An Ice Breaker, and his first collection of sonnets, Some Things Matter.

Cinema Stories, celebrating the history of cinema in Leeds and written with fellow poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard, came out in 2015..  

A Bench for Billie Holiday was published in 2018, followed by his latest collection of sonnets, Heart Stones, in November 2021.

James's website is here.

About Heart Stones, by James Nash

In his third volume of sonnets, James Nash examines urban and seaside environments in a Yorkshire he has known through fifty years of living in the North. His sonnets soar over the land - from Leeds, a predominantly Victorian city, to the Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire, walking and cycling into the natural world with a pen and paper never far from his hand. 

James openly shows his debts to the great poets and writers of previous generations, from Winifred Holtby to Philip Larkin, from Matthew Arnold to Dylan Thomas. To borrow some of his won words, James's gifrt sit to be a "clear microscope" for our times, finding hope in the many "miralces of detail" that pass through his unwavering gaze.

Below, you can read two poems from Heart Stones. You can see further details about the collection on the publisher's website here

From Heart Stones

Yorkshire skies for Patricia

We shared these Yorkshire skies at different times,
A West Riding jumble of spire and mill
And, much later, the eastern coastal dreams 
Which began for me at Garrowby Hill.
I’d no idea fifty years ago
That each daily walk would now be full of you,
The cliffs and beaches, where white pebbles glow,
Each prospect of the Wolds, each distant view.
And yesterday I saw across the bay
As dusk deepened with the slow dropping sun,
You signalling in the last dregs of day;
You are the lighthouse flash, not yet quite done.
I would give you a heart-stone from the beach
But you are fading light, too faint to reach. 

Heart stones 

The incoming tide has covered them, fanned
Over, drowned the heart-shaped pattern of stones
Made from beach pebbles and secured in sand.
Large, white punctuation marks; the bleached bones
Of a dinosaur’s toes, gathered, arranged 
By a young artist on a bike with time
He did not have, until all slowed and changed,
To leave temporary signs in chalky rhyme.
From our cliff top eyrie we see it all,
Huge heart under water unmoved by tide.
Can love survive whatever might befall,
Perhaps live on when other things have died?
Just this; in slow erosion, it is worn
Down, dissolving more each day, stone by stone.

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