A clever idea cooked up by a triumvirate of Caught by the River pals and contributors – Nick Small, Ben Myers and Will Atkins – Heathcliff Adrift is a series of narrative poems, a selection of which are being reproduced and exhibited in Durham Cathedral for the duration of Durham Book Festival 2014.
Ben says of the idea’s genesis: “It was conceived while walking the moors of the West Riding in Yorkshire and born out of the questions: where did Heathcliff go and what did he see? The work runs alongside stunning landscape photographs taken by Nick Small which explore the idea of what happened to Heathcliff during his ‘missing’ three years in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, an era in which the industrial revolution was in its earliest days and the ragged beauty of the landscape was under threat from the arrival of mechanisation.”
Nick says: “This collaboration between Ben and I was born on the pages of Caught by the River. Having exchanged correspondence over an number of years we finally met in the fitting environs of a Hebden Bridge pub, with beer in hand and in the company of chief alchemist Jeff. When Ben asked me to provide photographs to accompany his Heathcliff poems we both found that we referenced the peerless collaboration between Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, “The Remains of Elmet” as our inspiration. The photographs are taken on the South Pennine Moorland between Calderdale and Haworth. The intention was not to create a literal narrative accompaniment to the poems. Instead, I wanted to present a series of images that would convey the wild and weird nature of the landscape that is my “back yard” and to explore some of the emotional themes that the landscape itself evokes: love, fear, life, death, awe, euphoria and, above all, time(lessness).”
Durham Book Festival takes place 6-20 October. More info about the event here
Will Atkins will appear at the opening of the exhibition on October 16th to discuss his acclaimed book The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature, the Caught by the River Book of the Month back in May. Read Ben’s brilliant review of it here. A limited edition chapbook of Heathcliff Adrift will also be available to buy.