Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mabel Ferrett
(30th April 1917 - 28th January 2011)

Mabel Ferrett, her late husband Harold and her surviving son John have been good friends with my wife and I over the years. I first met Mabel at a meeting of the Pennine Poets at Elland Library where it had been established by Joan Lee. Later the regular venue was Mabel's home in Heckmondwike, but we also visited her on many occasions purely as friends dropping by.

Ian McMillan writing in the Yorkshire Post described her as
a cornerstone of West Yorkshire poetry for decades
and elsewhere in the Yorkshire Post as
a dynamic powerhouse of a woman and an evangelist for poetry.

As well as a poet and editor she was a journalist and historian and became a Life President of the Spen Valley Historical Society.

Her book After Passchendaele is a fascinating account of mainly her early life. She didn't like school but liked her teacher Miss Scott. Mabel became a teacher and was evacuated in the War from Leeds to Lincoln.

Inside my copy of the book is a four page letter in her, by then, barely readable scrawl. Dated 18th December 2003 she apologies for not writing sooner after my telephone call a fortnight previously. I had rung on the night when 19 people had squashed into her front room at the launch.

Although by then transport difficulties made it impossible for us to visit we still kept in touch by phone every few months.

In her review of Imaginary Gates on NHI Review Mandy Smith writes
She is the wise woman who knows there are two sides to everything, and many of these poems explore the double-faceted nature of existence.
She was indeed a most wise woman and an extraordinary person.

I published several of her poems over the years and three can be found online.

Read Hope is a Sharpened Axe on Pickings.

Read Oppression on Pickings.

Read Chequer-Board on the Aabye's Baby archive.

In Death of a Neighbour Mabel writes
Now she is gone where all is ignorance.
The black hearse waits
It is her funeral.
The sun evokes the yellow crocuses,
birds sing but that is all.
Today I pull my curtains back alone.


1956 Borough of Spenborough Official Guide (Pyramid Press)
1956 The Lynx-Eyed Strangers (Outposts)
1965 The Angry Men (E J Arnold)
1971 The Tall Tower (Platform)
1973 Shirley Country (Hub)
1975 Years of the Right Hand (Hub)
1978 The Brontës in the Spen Valley (Kirklees Cultural Services) extended edn 1997
1984 A Question of Menhirs (Littlewood)
1986 Humber Bridge: Selected Poems, 1955–85 (Littlewood)
1987 The Taylors of the Red House (Kirklees Library)
1993 A Short History of Hartshead (Hartshead Church)
1996 Scathed Earth (Poetry Salzburg)
2001 Imaginary Gates (Fighting Cock Press)
2003 After Passchendaele (Fighting Cock Press)
2006 Spirit & Emotion (Fighting Cock Press)

After Passechendaele appears to be available on download at World of Books [link not given] Beware the file is infected with malware!!

Mabel's funeral will be at Hartshead Church on Monday 7th February 2011 at 1 p.m. I hope to be there.

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