Causley Review Special
All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: A Biography of Charles Causley (The Cornovia Press) Laurence Green
Charles Causley: Theatre Works (Francis Boutle) Ed. Dr. Alan M Kent
2013 has been a wonderful year in terms of the work of Charles Causley reaching even wider audiences. There is the Charles Causley Festival, now heading towards its third year, the success of the Charles Causley Trust in raising significant Arts Council England funds in partnership with Cornwall Council to renovate the late poet’s house and put in place a wonderful new poet in residence project, and the superb tributes on the BBC’s Poetry Please programme. There has also been Malcolm Wright’s fine monograph biography, The Universal Poet, and Jim Causley’s enchanting Cyprus Well album – not to mention Causley’s poetry featuring in Natalie Merchant’s beautiful picture book collaboration with Barbara McClintock, Leave Your Sleep.
To add to these riches a warm welcome is extended to Laurence Green’s new and ground breaking biography of the poet All Cornwall Thunders at my Door and editor Alan M Kent’s deeply valuable collection of Causley’s dramatic writing, Charles Causley: Theatre Works. Both of these new books are to be treasured for their place in the ever-growing celebration of this most important writer.
Dr Kent actually also provides the foreword to Green’s work, and supplies a very tender and fascinating account of the way Causley and his work has inspired his own writing life, and this strong sense of appreciation and enthusiasm for Causley’s writing is also a key feature of Green’s biography. In fact, one of the most endearing facets of All Cornwall Thunders At My Door is Green’s close connection between telling the story of Causley’s life and imparting a great affection for his poetry, and the very enjoyable and positive tone this sustains for the biography. There is a sense of many, many hours of research, and this new volume is a great new addition to our understanding of Charles Causley’s life and work – particularly his war years, which Green explores with great sensitivity, and the poet’s later years.
Charles Causley: Theatre Works collects eleven of Causley’s theatre works, from ‘The Journey of the Magi: A Nativity Play in Three Acts’ to ‘St Jerome and the Lion: A Church Opera’. In his hugely fascinating Introduction ‘Celticity, Mystery and Poetry – The Theatre Works of Charles Causley’ (almost worth the price of admission alone!) Kent makes a completely convincing case for Causley as a writer who “tends to be ignored as a playwright, though highly regarded as a poet” being in fact as equally achieved as a dramatist, if not even superior. Kent is particularly illuminating on ‘The Ballad of Aucassin and Nicolette’, premiered at the Exeter Festival in 1978, with fifteen-piece orchestra, and this fine work (“Star that glitters late and soon/In the shallows of the moon”) is indeed one of the highlights of this marvellous, intelligently curated and very gratefully appreciated collection. There are wonderful discoveries here for those only familiar with Causley the poet.
Both of these new books are essentials for the Causley bookshelf.