Interview with Poet Bill Mumford (THE KEENING CURLEW)

1) What is the theme of your poem?

Despite the sense of desolation the poem is about hope- the curlew’s call sounds like a mourning lament but actually it is a love song to attract a mate. The poem finishes with the observation that people who are very sick in hospital will smile and feel more hopeful when they hear the chimes celebrating the birth of a baby.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

The poem is based on a real event- a hike in the local hills in The Lake District, England just before lockdown. The emerging news of Covid-19 had created a sense of foreboding and sheltering from the mountain storm seemed like a metaphor. The curlew’s song brought hope- just like the birth of an infant.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I am a relative novice- inspired by the likes of Seamus Heaney I decided to give it a go a couple of years ago.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Seamus Heaney!

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

Although I love the written word poetry is all about sound and I have never heard one of my poems read aloud before- such a treat. Also it is interesting to hear how another person interprets the flow and where they put pauses and stresses- it is like a fresh interpreation.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

No sticking with poetry for now and even then find myself hooked on the sonnet form- 14 lines. Not too daunting!

7) What is your passion in life?


Performed by Allison Kampf


Hail, blown by Artic Maritime wind
Stings. Westmorland whitens, all sound freezes.
I take shelter in a silent lime kiln
Stone cold. No fire here, all warmth has been mined.
Pulled my dog close- wary with unease
Numbed. Quiet, waiting as the cold seeps in.

Steam of light cuts through an icy veil
Glimpses of a silhouette, then the lament
As a curlew keens his incantation.
His lovelorn song tells such a sad tale
Memories of moors filled with enchantment-
His thoughts turn- for hope and expectation.

They say: birth chimes bring the sick belief
Moment of joy in a landscape of grief

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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