Tuesday Poem: Silecroft Shore by Norman Nicholson
Yesterday, the 8th of January, was Norman Nicholson's birthday. He was born in 1914 in a small dwelling in Millom, Cumbria, a seaside mining town in the south of the Lake District. It was not a pretty place and there was little money. His father was a tailor's apprentice and his mother a dressmaker. His infancy was blighted by the fact that a previous baby, Harold, had died of enteritis when only a few months old. The winter was bitter, and Norman was regarded as a sickly baby. His over-protective parents wrapped and lagged him against the weather like water pipes against the frost, he later said. It had a profound effect on him. To make matters worse his mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, Norman contracted TB at 16 and spent 2 years in a sanatorium. His loving father became even more protective of his only child.
Solitary, physically restricted in what he could do, Norman spent a lot of time wandering in the landscape, observing and recording. A precocious poet, much of his poetry focuses on the landscape around Millom, where he lived in the same house, No 14 George Street, until he died. Silecroft Shore was only one of the wild and beautiful places that he identified with.
A new book about Topographical writing, Coastal Works: Cultures of the Atlantic Edge, published by OUP, devotes a whole chapter to Norman's work. 'At the Dying Atlantic's Edge' is written by Andrew Gibson. Unfortunately, like most academic publications, you need to take out a mortgage to afford it. Even the Kindle edition costs £46.00!
The Whispering Poet, the Book Mill, 2014
The Norman Nicholson Society is currently trying to preserve Norman's home as a museum. To find out more about the poet and the house, please click on the link. You can also find them on Facebook, and on Twitter as @NNicholsonPoet