Hughes’ rock and tales of flooding inspire poet Ben

Author Benjamin Myers
Author Benjamin Myers

Ben Myers

The Book Corner, Halifax Piece Hall

Walking with his dog Heathcliff round Scout Rock in Mytholmroyd, writer Ben Myers found himself drawing inspiration - like Ted Hughes before him - from the impressive geological feature which dominates the Calder Valley village.

Scout Rock was hugely influential in the early life and the poetry of Hughes, Calderdale’s most famous son who was born in Mytholmroyd. And like Hughes, Ben Myers, who has lived in the Calder Valley for the past decade, loves exploring the steep crag and surrounding area.

“It is a magical, almost semi-mythical place and there is a real sense of history to it,” he said. Ben’s new book ‘Under the Rock - The Poetry of Place’, published by Elliott & Thompson, is his reponse to the work of Ted Hughes and the places associated with him - such as Scout Rock.

“It has taken until now for me to write about it because of Ted Hughes - he casts a big shadow and I wanted to respond in my own way.”

Over the past ten years, Ben has written a series of critically-acclaimed novels, all set in the north of England, as well as poetry. His most recent novel ‘The Gallows Pole’, which tells the story of the Cragg Vale Coiners, is currently shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction (the winner will be announced next month).

His new book, a work of non-fiction, is an exploration of landscape and literature. His interest in landscape was heightened during the Boxing Day floods of 2015 which badly affected the towns of the Calder Valley.

It made him realise how important the sense of community is and was also a reminder of ‘the fact that nature has power over humans. We think we can control it but events like that are a reminder that we haven’t tamed the planet.’

Ben’s fascination with nature and the landscape has been strengthened by his move from London and he plans to continue exploring the world on his doorstep.

“I’m just someone who likes being outside. It’s about finding stillness in the chaos of 20th century living,” he said.

Ben Myers will sign his books at the Book Corner, Halifax Piece Hall on Sunday, May 27, noon to 2pm.