Herbert Lomas 1924-2011 R.I.P.
Posted 12th September 2011
Bertie Lomas was a dear man and a dear friend and we were very saddened to learn of his death on Friday 9 September 2011 after a short spell in hospital. We knew and admired Bertie for many years, as a poet, a translator and a critic, and were delighted when he came to Arc in 2003 with his new book The Vale of Todmorden, a sequence of short poems by way of a personal history of the Pennine town of Tomdorden of the 1930s, his place of birth and home for the first decade of his life (and also, of course, the home of Arc Publications.
Some six years later, we were proud to publish his collected poems A Casual Knack of Living and launch it at the opening of the 2009 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, with Bertie as the Guest of Honour -- a truly memorable evening.
We shall miss him -- miss his Christmas cards, his e-mails and his phone calls (less frequent in recent years, but always welcome) -- as will his many friends the world over.
'In the Old Black Swan' from The Vale of Todmorden, by Herbert Lomas
Everything has always been
just like this: the bobbled tablecloth,
the prickly black chaise-longue,
the rain, the cotton mills,
the canal with its tadpoles,
sticklebacks and water-beetles,
the stone towpath, the black hawthorns,
and the early-morning clogs under my window.
They've always clacked by in the dark
at six o'clock every day. It's always been like this.
I'm on the sideboard, drumming dents
with my heels, then I crawl the floor
with my cattle and sheep, walk the lead dog
over the fields to my farm,
raise and lower the drawbridge on my fort.
I'm the besieger and the besieged.
(The Black Swan public house in Todmorden is is where Bertie Lomas lived as a young boy. It is still open, though very much changed.)
On 18 Oct 2011 sue said:
'The Vale of Todmorden' is fully included in the collected works 'A Casual Knack of Living'. The hardback was a limited signed subscription print run but the paperback is still available.
On 2 Oct 2011 James O'Brien said:
It is a pity that Arc has allowed Lomas's collection 'The Vale of Todmorden' to go out of print.
On 22 Sep 2011 Shanta said:
I was sad to hear of Herbert Lomas’ death; never had the pleasure of meeting him in person – only through his excellent poetry. I spoke with him once when I invited him to read at Lauderdale House. Lack of funds was an issue for me, not so for him. In the end he could not make it due to his health. I was touched by his generosity and willingness… Thank you Tony for this tribute to a fine poet and human being.