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Walking in the footsteps of Cornish town's world-renowned poet

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 31, 2013

By SIMON PARKER

  • Jane Nancarrow (left) will lead a poetry walk to Launceston locations associated with Charles Causley (above)

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When Jane Nancarrow walks around her native Launceston, the streets, squares, houses and shops are all imbued with the memory of Charles Causley.

From Zig-Zag to the Castle Keep, St Thomas Church to Mary Magdalene, few locations escaped the pencil of the great Cornish poet who spent his life in the North Cornwall town.

Jane was one of those lucky children growing up in the 1960s who knew Charles for reasons other than for his literary prowess. As teacher at Launceston's National Primary School, he was the man who inspired her both to teach and to write.

Ever aware of the debt of gratitude she owes to the author of acclaimed poems like Eden Rock, Timothy Winters, and I Am The Great Sun, Jane says she feels a duty to spread the word about her former teacher's genius whenever she gets the chance.

Next week, as part of the Charles Causley literary festival, Jane will be leading one of several walks around Launceston, visiting the places immortalised in Causley's poems.

"I shall be starting at Eagle House for a reading of Eagle One Eagle Two and then lead the group up to St Mary's Church for Mary, Mary Magdalene beside the granite carving on the east exterior," she said. "Then we'll possibly walk to overlook Cyprus Well and Dockacre House for a couple of relevant poems, before moving on to Castle Green, with its views to Willow Gardens. Looking across to St Stephen's, I will read My Mother Saw A Dancing Bear and if it's good weather I might take them down the road to the National School and do a couple of school poems in the bottom playground."

Jane, whose own novel Stones And Shadows was published two years ago, added: "Depending on time, we may look at the river for By St Thomas Water and Charles' birthplace for The Roundhouse."

Along with a guided tour led by Launceston town crier Rob Tremain and a stroll to key Causley locations in the company of his friend and historian Arthur Wills, Jane Nancarrow's poetry walk will form a central plank of this year's festival.

Running from June 6 to 9, the programme includes appearances by Cornish performance poetry partnership Dew Vardh and a display of Causley memorabilia at Lawrence House Museum. Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion will read from his new collection, The Customs House, while Cornish actor Dave Mynne offers Great Expectations, a one-man show condensing Dickens' epic into an hour.

Above all, the festival is an opportunity to discover or revisit the work of a man described as "the Poet Laureate we never had". His friend, Anthony Maggs, said shortly after the poet's death in 2003: "In Launceston everyone knew Charles and loved him. But there was something about him that was even more valued than his rich poetic gifts. It was his goodness. As a former Bishop of Truro said, he was pure gold."

For more details visit charlescausleyfestival.co.uk.

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