Launceston Life caught up with the Charles Causley Trust’s recent Poet-in-Residence, Rachel Piersey, a London-based poet who has been able to take inspiration from Causley and the local area during a three-week residency in March.
Rachel took part in the Causley Trust’s spring Poet-in-Residence programme. The programme allows writers from across the UK to work for a number of weeks from Cyprus Well, Causley’s last home before he passed away in 2003.
Arriving in Launceston on 6th March, Rachel spent three weeks at Cyprus Well to work on new poems, as well as working within the community.
Rachel writes poetry for adults and children, and has several books for young readers with publisher Magic Cat. She also does a lot of work in schools and runs poetry workshops for aspiring and established writers.
“During lockdown, I was going through my ‘to read’ pile, and came across Charles Causley’s collective poems,” Rachel told Launceston Life. “I found his poems wonderful and magical, but also philosophical and intelligent in a really warm way.”
It was through her newfound love of Causley’s work that she made contact with the Charles Causley Trust. She wrote an article for their blog, and then put in her application for the Poet-in-Residence programme.
During her stay, Rachel set about making the most of the local area, walking the official Charles Causley trail and exploring all the places featured in his poetry.
On her own work, Rachel said: “I started writing in primary school. I always loved reading and then started writing my own stuff. I also joined the Poetry Society at my university, which got me hooked. “This experience has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of Causley’s poems. Being in his house, working in his study, taking his books from the shelves, has really helped to infuse the richness of the poems. Cyprus Well is like a museum; it just feels really unusual but a big privilege to have been able to stay there.”
During her residency, Rachel took part in multiple events in the community, including library activities, workshops with Beavers groups; she has visited three local schools and also led Zoom workshops. She also ran an open mic night at The Byre in her last week.
“I’ve written about Causley, the history of the house, his poetry and also some different ones about the trees,” Rachel said. “I’ve been up and down Zig Zag, and I played around with Causley’s poem ‘As I Went Down Zig Zag’ to create my own version and experience of it.”
She added: “I am a massive fan of Charles Causley, and I would say he is probably my favourite poet.”
For more information about the Charles Causley Trust, visit https://causleytrust.org/