Cumbrian poet Tom Rawling fished for sea trout at night. His poems were admired by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Now Tom is almost totally forgotten. Night fishing is a heightened experience we capture in sound and poems read by Tom found on a cassette. With Grevel Lindop and angler Finlay Wilson.
Tom Rawling's poems about fishing have a peculiar intensity, a strange, slightly frightening quality that is vivid and almost obsessive. He was a driven man – you can hear it in the titles of his two books of poems – Ghosts at My Back and The Names of the Sea Trout.
No one else has conveyed so piercingly the drama, the intensity and the sheer strangeness of fishing – above all, of night fishing for sea trout. This programme helps us to experience some of that with Finlay.
Rawling was born in Ennerdale in the Lake District in 1916. His family had been farming on the shores of Ennerdale Water for at least 300 years.
He was the son of the village schoolmaster, attended his father's school, and was caned by him every day.
Rawling eventually became a teacher himself – of children with special needs. He preferred that because it didn't tie him down to a syllabus. He married and had 2 daughters.
He didn't begin writing poetry until he was 60 years old. When he retired, the poems poured out of him, and they were about Cumbria, about his family, his childhood memories of Ennerdale, about the hard labour entailed in making a living from the land. Also, they were about fishing. Above all, fishing for sea trout.
Producer/ Matt Thompson for Rockethouse
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