three poems by natalie sorrell charlesworth

The sea strips / the sand into strata, / shifts the timeline / on the tides. / The village / was Saxon, was Viking / was Roman. / Was here, then gone.

natalie sorrell charlesworth

Picture credits: Andrew

Christ the King, Fishergate Hill

Castle ruin, fairy gate, grey-white mirage

side-eyed from the slipstream windowpane

of a hundred early morning bus journeys.

Octagonal towered, Notre Dame aspirant

pulled flat on all faces but this. A demoted

church, the council’s truncated, votive offering.

One day I will walk up to your wall, press

my palms flat to your bricks. Push.

Picture credits: Preston Digital Archive

Tulketh Hall

Back to grass and heather. The hum

of masonry bees vibrating in their

honeycombed brickwork remnants.

Hidden undergrowth fed on ashes.

Here, a hunter once crouched

in their furs in the long grass,

watching the sedate grazing

of their next rabbit-skin hat.

Here, a monk once set down

his wandering staff, bricked

the world into windows, panes

of glass arching heavenwards.

Here, a man made a manor

of a monastery, rented out

the choral echoes of inherited

nobility, to trade and railways.

Here, they sent the orphaned

or unwanted, the short-trousered

progeny of parents on a budget,

for Latin, Greek and arithmetic.

Here, the army stored their secrets,

then forgot to post a guard. Lost

the lot to trespassers five years later,

ten-year-old Tom with dad’s lighter.

Here, half the roof peeled open

in a storm, like a ring-pull can lid.

The council puts paid to the walls

with a wrecking ball next winter.

Here lies Tulketh, interred in

Avenue, Brow, Road, Crescent.

Foundations’ bones tarmacked

under a car park’s cracked skin.

Picture credits: Tjer77

Domburg Beach

i.

The sea strips

the sand into strata,

shifts the timeline

on the tides.

The village

was Saxon, was Viking

was Roman.

Was here, then gone.

ii.

One winter reveals

a headless Victory.

She was carried

in triumph

to the church. Left

greening

out of salt until

she was reclaimed,

or lost,

to lightning.

iii.

In harder times

the villagers develop

criminal tendencies.

Wind their way

through the wave

forms of foundations,

the worm casts

of superfluous

underwater wells.

Seek plunder.

iv.

The currents change

on the whim of the weather,

call up

the temple of a forgotten

Roman goddess, plying

her faith amongst

the carcass stalls

of Viking merchants,

the graves of Christians

birthed

out of the mud,

heads facing westwards.

v.

For centuries of dark nights,

the villagers’ children

have crept out

through the waves’

boneyard, pillaged the surf’s

hand-me-downs

for the brooches and skulls

they liked the best, ferried

them home through

seaweed snares and crab nests.

Of the rest, little is known

and the locals’ lips

are salt-sealed.

Dr Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth, is a 29 year old Preston native. She won the Poetic Republic Portfolio Prize 2014, was specially commended in Elbow Room 2016, shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2020 and Jane Martin Prize 2014 and longlisted for Mslexia 2021. Her work has been published by Poetic Republic, Elbow Room, Beautiful Dragons and Hidden Disabilities.  She works as a Library Assistant for Lancashire County Council, as an Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer for Lancaster University and as a freelance artist and genealogist. She is an active board member for Lancaster Literature Festival and recently passed her VIVA for her Creative Writing PhD at Lancaster University.

Ep. 6 | Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst

I think this idea of cultural appropriation makes white writers like me be very nervous about representing anyone in their fiction that doesn’t look like them or doesn’t come from the place they live in … but taking that too far can result in everyone only writing about these versions of themselves and you lose your literary freedom and your curiosity, and confidence.

Jenn Ashworth

The things I write about tend to have their origins in holidays I’ve been on … I like writing about stories set on holidays, because you have characters set in unfamiliar surroundings, so they are quite isolated and their personalities can be brought out: they can have conflicts and interact quickly. It kind of creates the perfect conditions for a story.

Richard V. Hirst

 

Come with us and visit mysterious, liminal places where strange things may happen, such as Preston train station in the northwest of England…

In this interview, I bring you not just one guest but two: writers Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst. Jenn has published several novels, A Kind of Intimacy, Cold Light, The Friday Gospels and  Fell; she’s also a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Richard has won the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize and, with Jenn and other artists, co-founded the publishing collective Curious Tales. Now, the most interesting thing about these two writers is that they love working together. Their most recent project is the novella The Night Visitors that I read and totally recommend. It’s written in the form of emails and contains horror, cannibalism and very spooky train stations. Richard and Jenn are both from Preston, in the north of England, and have been friends from a very young age, which I think you can tell by listening to them. We discuss many things, such as why Jenn always sets her fiction in Lancashire, eventhough she has travelled around the world and lived in different places. We also talk about why holidays are important for Richard (he actually gets much of his inspiration from travelling outside of the UK). We also discuss the importance of diverse literature and we get a bit serious when reflecting on the role of artists after Brexit and how this has changed the way we create. We tried to be hopeful, but I must confess, we ended up talking about the zombie apocalypse …

Connect with Jenn:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

Connect with Richard:

Website / Twitter