Under the Rock: The Poetry of a place
By: Benjamin Myers
Carved from the valley side above Mytholmroyd in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Scout Rock is a steep crag overlooking wooded slopes and flat weed-tangled plateaus. To many it is unremarkable, to others it is a doomed place where 18th-century thieves would hide out; where the town tip once sat, suicides leapt to their death and the asbestos that claimed so many lives was buried in the soil. Scout Rock is also the subject of Ted Hughes’s 1963 essay ‘The Rock’, in which the poet describes growing up across the valley from “my spiritual midwife . . . both the curtain and backdrop to my existence.”
Into this beautiful, dark and complex landscape steps Benjamin Myers, asking: are unremarkable places made remarkable by the minds that map them? The result is a lyrical and unflinching investigation into nature, literature, history, memory and the very meaning of place in modern Britain.
UNDER THE ROCK is about badgers, balsam, history, nettles, mythology, moorlands, mosses, poetry, bats, wild swimming, slugs, recession, floods, logging, peacocks, community, apples, asbestos, quarries, geology, industrial music, owls, stone walls, farming, anxiety, relocation, the North, woodpiles, folklore, landslides, ruins, terriers, woodlands, ravens, dales, valleys, walking, animal skulls, trespassing, crows, factories, maps, rain – lots of rain – and a great big rock.
Extraordinary, elemental . . . never less than compelling: this is a wild, dark grimoire of a book
A bone-tingling book
- Richard Benson
Perfectly poised and seductive, luminous . . . a truly elemental read from which I emerged subtly changed. Benjamin Myers is a writer of exceptional talent and originality … it has all the makings of a classic
- Miriam Darlington
Place-writing at its most supple: both deeply considered, and deeply felt
- Melissa Harrison
Richly layered, densely and elegantly structured, discursive, elegiac and beautiful . . . a stunning exploration of place, mind and myth
- Jenn Ashworth