'The Stone Tape' by Tony Hill is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week

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‘The Stone Tape’ by Tony Hill is the new Write Out Loud Poem of the Week. Talking about the poem, Tony said: “The title is a reference to a 1972 BBC production of the same name, quite a chilling ghost story that can still be seen on YouTube. Stone Tape theory is the speculation that ghosts and hauntings are analogous to tape recordings and that electrical mental impressions released during a traumatic event can somehow be stored in rocks and other items.” In his replies to Write Out Loud’s questions, he praised TS Eliot, Derek Mahon and Wallace Stevens as poets he admires. He does not submit poems to magazines, adding: “I post the occasional poem on Write Out Loud, hope for a positive response, and then retreat.”


What got you into writing poetry?

I have been writing poetry in a very haphazard way for about 30 years. Since retiring from teaching recently, I have been able to devote more time to the writing process, which in my case can be very slow.


Do you go to any open-mic nights?

I don't attend open-mic events, nor do I submit my poems to magazines in the hope of publication. I would occasionally subject one of my classes to a poem, but I think that falls into the category of a captive audience. I post the occasional poem on Write Out Loud, hope for a positive response, and then retreat.


Your favourite poet/poem?

My favourite poet is TS Eliot and for sheer scope and brilliance of language it's hard to see past 'The Four Quartets'. I also love Derek Mahon's 'A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford'.


You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?

My desert island luxury would be the collected poems of Wallace Stevens. I know he is a great poet, but he is also one I sometimes struggle to understand. With all that spare time on my hands, I would need a challenge.




by Tony Hill


Not the overexposed, unwanted guest
who outstays his welcome, the forebear
who is taking familial shape in the corner
in a coming together of shadows and mist.

Nor even the third man on your shoulder
as you reach the pole or gain the summit,
and not the specious exhalations of spirit
in those gas-lit, overburdened parlours.

Ignore the widows’ running mascara,
as they stand in sepulchral silence under
the bower, refusing all pleas to pass over,
petitioning lost causes for ever and ever,

like souls who remain after the events
they witnessed, the stone tapes that still
record whatever caused the air to ripple
and rend in disorder. All revenants.

The will-o’-the-wisp, the ignis fatuus,
the marsh’s headlights that lead you off
the straight and narrow down the primrose path,
each step you take more obsequious.

But standing in a wood in the late spring,
among the smoky columns of afternoon
sun, a photo-ghost of memory: a classroom,
the film running off its reel and left to spin,

the claptrap, the brightness of the screen,
as tremulous as any egg I’d ever blown,
and empty of the actors who’d walked on
and played their parts. These are the ghosts I mean.




◄ 'It's more than just words ... it's a way of connecting with the world' - Kat Francois

Paris after the terror attacks: poet publishes pamphlet on the days that followed ►


Tony Hill

Sat 8th Oct 2016 08:37

Thanks for the kind words, Martin.

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Martin Elder

Fri 7th Oct 2016 23:58

An excellent poem Tony well picked as poem of the week. The subject matter, the flow and pace all make this stand out. I look forward to reading many more of your poems

Tony Hill

Tue 4th Oct 2016 18:56

Thanks Julian and Laura. The very thought of an open mic event has sent me looking for the smelling salts!

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Julian (Admin)

Tue 4th Oct 2016 16:41

Your flower no longer blushes unseen. Might you now be tempted to share them in public, your poems? I would welcome hearing them at an open-floor poetry event, as I am sure would others. Lots of pauses would add to the atmosphere.
Excellently done.

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Laura Taylor

Tue 4th Oct 2016 10:11

Absolutely fantastic poem. Your other poems are also magnificent. Well done, thoroughly deserving.

Tony Hill

Mon 3rd Oct 2016 15:25

Thanks for the kind words, Ray. Ghosts in the traditional sense in which we use that word....the spirit haunting the church, or taking possession of a house etc....held few terrors for me. What seemed infinitely more terrifying was the fact that I could view images of people who had once led full and vibrant lives and who were now gone forever. Famous, infamous, anonymous - all lost. The incident alluded to in the poem took place when I was about twelve. The movie was The Vikings. Tony

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Mon 3rd Oct 2016 13:57

Bringing close attention like this to the fifth sense and all the trappings is a difficult thing to master, and I love the worthiness of this poem and how it grapples with the unknown, making it seem so close and familiar(or is it unfamiliar?). A really deserving POTW. You can almost sense the drapes and swooning Victorians.


Tony Hill

Mon 3rd Oct 2016 12:54

Thank you Graham and Grag for the kind words. When I do retreat it's simply to write more poems.

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 3rd Oct 2016 12:29

Oozing quality words.

I think everyone can subscribe to this theory. Walls have ears and eyes and who hasn't felt atmospheres in old buildings, places etc.

Tony this is work of a very high standard and I implore you not to retreat too often. Please keep writing AND posting it on here!

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Greg Freeman

Mon 3rd Oct 2016 11:25

I've been an admirer of your work for quite a while, Tony. Thanks for posting your poems on Write Out Loud - and this one in particular. You construct your poetry with such care. I find that last sentence of 'The Stone Tape' particularly satisfying.

Tony Hill

Sun 2nd Oct 2016 20:47

Thanks for the kind words, Dominic. You seem to understand the effect I was trying to achieve when I wrote the poem. Tony.

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Dominic James

Sun 2nd Oct 2016 09:50

Imagery that takes shape and collapses in your hands, runs through your fingers, quite chilling really. My impression. Congratulations Tony.

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