From October 2019 to April 2020 I will be Writer-in-Residence in Brompton Cemetery, one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ 19th-century garden cemeteries. The designs for Brompton were elaborate and ambitious, to impress clients and attract wealthy investors. After it was decommissioned, much of the cemetery’s thirty-nine acres were left to sink into decay, and even after extensive restoration work, large parts of the cemetery are still wilderness, overgrown with ivy and brambles, and providing shelter and habitat for dozens of species of large and small animals, insects, and birds.
I live close to the cemetery and visit often to sit and write, or to walk the paths and observe. It was a natural next step to start writing about my surroundings, and then I chose the cemetery as my subject for a project which will form part of an arts symposium taking place in Hampshire next February. My contribution will involve producing a sequence of poems that reflect the many different voices of the cemetery, human and animal, living and dead. As well as this project I will be developing a number of ideas with the Friends of Brompton Cemetery and Royal Parks and I look forward to telling you more as plans evolve!