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'Mackin Bits O' Rhyme': Tom Twisleton At Skipton Library
Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent
It would be a hard heart that didn't warm to Tom Twisleton's poetry. Forged in a crucible of language as unforgiving and blunt as a limestone pavement, this Victorian farmer-cum-poet created a body of work that will endure. If not as old as the hills that Twisleton grew up amongst in the upland behind Settle, that language retains a depth and resilience which bespeaks the tenacity of Craven culture and tradition.

That Twisleton wrote poetry mostly in dialect forms is a testament to his commitment to the continuation of such traditions. If the themes of his poems are ageless - thrift, hardship, the perils of profligacy and inebriation - he sometimes brings a lyrical wisdom to his verse that makes an irony of the diamond-like hardness of the language:


An' mony a yan, ba-ath lad and man
      His spendthrift folly curses,
When foorc'd next day to gang away,
      Wi' clean'd-out empty purses.
Their money's done; in foolish fun,
      Wi' careless hand, they spent it;
Then ha-am they slink, weel fill'd wi' drink,
      At leisure to repent it.
  (From 'The Fair')


A lifelong subscriber to 'The Pledge', it is hardly surprising that sobriety figures large in his work. At a time when alcohol brought destitution to many, Twisleton's poetic response was at least as much a commonsensical corrective as a moral crusade. Well-known regionally in his own lifetime, he gave 'Penny Readings' of his poems across Yorkshire and Lancashire, and he will be remembered for honesty, a natural warmth, and where circumstances demanded, great humour.

Settle Stories' successful year-long celebration of Tom Twisleton's life and poetry throughout 2017 - the centenary of his death - has culminated in a touring exhibition of displays throughout Craven. Curated and organised by Hazel Richardson - historian and Tom Twisleton expert - the exhibition will run at Skipton Library until the end of May. In conjunction with the exhibition, Hazel will be giving a talk at the library on the man, his work, and his time.

Free Event. Skipton Library. Thursday 31st May. 10.45am.

Refreshments available.

Tel: 01609 534548

'Mackin Bits O' Rhyme': Tom Twisleton At Skipton Library, 16th May 2018, 14:14 PM