Inky Interview Special: Pebble Poet Jim Young: with Claire Faulkner

Can you introduce yourself to our readers? How long have you been writing for?

I am 69 years old and I live with my wife near the coast at Mumbles, Wales, UK. I am addicted to swimming in the sea every day of the year. Some of my poems are inspired by the sea, but the range and styles of my poetry is eclectic.

I love the idea of finding a poem somewhere. What inspired you to leave poetry on pebbles?

Being in the sea every day at Rotherslade Bay, and seeing the large number of benches there for visitors to sit and admire the view, prompted me to leave poems on pebbles there for everyone to read.

Where do you leave them? How many have you left?

I have left 10 to date. The number is constrained by the number of seats, but there are many more seats on the enjoining bay Langland, and I think I will start leaving them there as well.

Is there a theme to your work?

There is no theme to my work other than the “spirit” that moves me to write. I average a poem every two days. Once I have leeched the emotion from my mind, the writing is almost spontaneous and I do not “craft” my poems.

Have you had any feedback from people who have found them?

Yes, the people I speak to think it is such a great idea. I spoke to an elderly couple who had one of my pebble poems on their sideboard at home and their granddaughter loved it. I hope it will provide the idea that poetry is for everyone and not just book readers.

Will you be leaving many more?

I think I will continue to leave them at the seaside. The ink does fade after a few weeks, and I will replace them with new ones.

What or who inspires you to write?

I was born and live in Dylan Thomas’s “ugly lovely” town. His poetry is exemplifies “tight”word-craft. The poet who inspires me more than any other is RS Thomas. I do not have a car and walk everywhere all year around in all weathers, and, also, I have run a Photoblog since 2005, so every single day something, or the feel of a day’s events, inspires a poem. When I relax in my armchair after my swims I find things “come to me” unbidden along with the words and rhythm to express them. I call it the muse in my mind and the bard in my bonce. It is slightly uncanny the way it works.

Which writers / poets do you read?

I read all sorts of poets and poetry. I buy them all from the local Oxfam charity shop and I am enthralled and intoxicated by the different smells that fall from each book, and my imagination sees the previous owners in their time.

What are you reading at the moment?

Philip Larkin and T S Eliot, with Shakespeare’s sonnets waiting in the wings.

Do you have some poems which you would like to share with us?

Upon the Pyre of the World

At the sunset of the fishes,
upon the pyre of the world,
my: I told you! I told you!
Will wash no more dishes,
when the half-mast flag’s unfurled.
Adieu, adieu, adieu,
my beloved Gaia girl;
for we are floating down the Ganges,
upon the pyre of the world.

Music Returns To Auschwitz and a Lone Voice Sings

such longing, such an aching lamentation.
why do you not scream out, or
laugh in an inconsolable madness
and release me from the gibbet
of your anguish?
that i could manage,
that i could cope with.
and, no, i do not want to forget,
but there is beauty in the purity of the
voice that impales the pain;
it holds me spellbound.
i weep now for all mankind;
doomed, doomed, as we are,
doomed to relive a myriad deaths
and shades of suffering
before the end.
oh, i bleed down these ochre walls,
as i relinquish into a sea of wailing
all of my sorrow;
i dread what yesterday will bring
unto the ‘morrow;
it lacerates my sadness
to hang empty upon the night air,
and i wail and wail, but to no avail;
for alas is never enough;
is it?

The Sea Swimmer in Winter

(The Sea Swimmer in Winter on YouTube)

Beyond the breeze,

under the winter sun,
the sea is calling me,
calling me,
calling me.
Seething in the breath,
of the north wind’s spume,
in the push and pull of the tides.
That’s where my secret abides.

The blue jelly fish have pulled back
to where the cormorant stands on end.
As a grey seal bobs with ebony eyes,
and the snows press down the bay.
My knees compose some purple prose,
that will last me through the day.

Harder the winter,
larger the spring in my step,
where I see, in the icy briny,
that perennial phoenix of spring.
That frisson of flight,
born in the glassy might
of the quenching, churning tides.

Baptised, reborn, each shingle day,
in my way, in my bay, away
in the dappled waves of my sea,
my sea
my sea,
my sea

Away in the dappled waves of my sea,
my sea.
When I am dried by the sun and wind,
then, only then, am I alive.
As alive as live can be.
Alive as the roaring sea.
Alive as a swimmer in winter.
In the sea where he’s meant be.

In the sea where he’s meant be.

Jim on Twitter

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