Alyson Hallet

Featured Poet: Alyson Hallett

Clark’s Shoe Factory, Street
What I wanted was the factory
before it turned into a shopping village.
Wanted the Henry Moore sculpture
back on the grass by the factory tower,
wanted the hum of sewing machines
and that dusty smell of leather. Wanted
to cycle past the stinking tannery,
to walk in wear-test shoes, to eat the cakes
at Clark’s christmas party. Not nostalgia,
but a wanting for things that made us.
The workers’ dirty hands, the day
after day, the doughnuts in the canteen.
My father going up and down Street
High Street for more than forty years.
The fact that things were being made,
the attraction of that. The grit and the skill
and the boredom. I wanted to see it all again.
To know the cut of cow hide, the stitch,
the moulded sole of a shoe. Not the museum
but the living practice. The meaning
of that brick high up in the factory wall
with the words more light carved into it.
Alyson’s latest book of poems, Suddenly Everything, has just been published by Poetry Salzburg. Previous publications include The Stone Library (Peterloo Poets), Towards Intimacy (Queriendo Press) a book of short stories, collaborative artist’s books and drama for Radio 4 and Sky Television. As well as writing poems for the page, Alyson also enjoys working with poetry in three-dimensional spaces. She has a poem carved into Milsom Street pavement in Bath and she has been running The Migration Habits of Stones, an international poetry as public art project, for the past twelve years.
Alyson was the country’s first poet-in-residence in a Geography Department at Exeter University, a post funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She is currently a Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund in Plymouth and has just returned from a Fellowship at Hawthornden Castle. As well as adjusting to life beyond the castle walls, Alyson is offering poetry surgeries in Truro through the Poetry Society and working with artists and dancers on an exhibition relating to the Merry Maidens stone circle in Cornwall.

3 thoughts on “Featured Poet: Alyson Hallett”

  1. I so recommend Alyson’s latest collection – some poems gave me goosebumps, they are so accurate and beautiful.

  2. I enjoyed this poem very much – I know it’s not a thing being “made” but it reminds me of my own memories (and how I feel about my memories) of my own childhood and youth – my parents being farmers, and living in a rural community. And I love your final image and the mystery of it – again it brings back images for me – of giant lofts full of hay bales and how as a child I looked at the things around me – and how I put my own particular significances to things and used my imagination to fill in the gaps and to wonder 🙂

  3. I really like the way the direct statements of desire in this poem and the utterly straightforward diction, combine to enact a sense of the workmanlike plainness and reliability of the way of life the narrator has lost, so that the poem is presented like a sturdy, well-crafted pair of shoes.

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