Laurence Sterne Trust

Writing the Future

Creative Writer

John Wedgwood Clarke was born in St Ives, Cornwall in 1969.
He trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and
Drama, before going on to study literature and completing a
DPhil in Modernist poetry at the University of York. He set
up the Beverley Literature and Bridlington Poetry Festivals,
and ran them for ten years before leaving to undertake a
Leverhulme Artists Residency at the University of Hull.

He is a freelance writer, UK and Ireland poetry editor for Arc
Publications, a full-time lecturer in creative writing at the
University of Hull, and often works with curators and artists
on public art projects. He lives in Scarborough.

John uses the following poems in his introductory video as examples of ways of seeing in poetry. Perhaps they will inspire you to write a poem of your own.

Note Slipped under a Door by Charles Simic (from Classic Ballroom Dances, 1980)

I saw a high window struck blind
By the late afternoon sunlight.

I saw a towel
With many dark fingerprints
Hanging in the kitchen.

I saw an old apple tree,
A shawl of wind over its shoulders,
Inch its lonely way
Toward the barren hills.

I saw an unmade bed
And felt the cold of its sheets.

I saw a fly soaked in pitch
Of the coming night
Watching me because it couldn’t get out.

I saw stones that had come
From a great purple distance
Huddle around the front door.

From Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North, 1689 (‘Oku no Hosomichi’, trans. by Nobuyuki Yuasa, 1966)

I am awe-struck
To hear a cricket singing
Underneath the dark cavity
Of an old helmet.