Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

Friends of the Dymock Poets

Friends of Dymock PoetsMy main pastime is exploring the countryside on foot and by bicycle (I do not drive or own a car). One of the areas to which I often return is the gently undulating land where Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire meet. I was first introduced to this area by Linda Hart, who formed a voluntary group, the Friends of the Dymock Poets, to celebrate the work of six notable World War I poets who gathered together in this area between 1910 and 1915 and their connection with it. The poets explored the country around the village of Dymock extensively and it became central to their collective poetic vision. They wrote poems famous in themselves (such as Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier'), but they also had a profound influence on the way in which poetry has developed ever since; indeed, the former poet laureate Ted Hughes has described one of the Dymock Poets, Edward Thomas, as 'the father of us all'.

Linda Hart invited me to speak about the countryside of the Dymock Poets at the organisation's first conference, in 1993. I have continued to visit the area at least annually, if not more frequently ever since.

I have served on the FDP's committee and led FDP campaigns to prevent landscape change in particularly lovely parts of the area. You can read about our (thankfully successful) efforts to stop building on May Hill here and the construction of a grid of polytunnels over farmland at Redmarley D'Abitot here. I much enjoy the bi-annual weekend events which the FDP organises, which always feature a walk in which we read aloud poetry along routes the poets would have frequented (see photo taken on British Camp in the southern Malverns in October 2016).

The poet and children's writer Eleanor Farjeon also ‘walk-talked’ with the other poets in this area, and I have sought to persuade FDP members to add Eleanor Farjeon to the FDP's list of Dymock poets, as outlined here.