Writers Influences 15: Chris Campbell on D H Lawrence

D H Lawrence who is the featured authors’s influence by Chris Campbell from my perspective I first came across while I was doing English A Level in evening classes back in 1995, but don’t have any clear memory of what I studied. However, I do remember in 1998, while at a class at Bolton University where I did my degree getting told at the end of a lecture to go and get a poetry book by D H Lawrence for discussing the week after.

I in error went and got Lady Chatterley’s lover.

Chris Campbell who I chatted to about D H Lawrence has a much less stressful memory recalling “Having been inspired by DH Lawrence when younger, I was drawn back to him after moving to Nottingham a few years ago. My wife and I visited the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum, his family’s first home in Eastwood, a former coal mining town. This backdrop strongly influenced Lawrence’s writing, but what moves me is the highly personal content of his poetry, particularly on close relationships; including with his lovers, and mother.”

“The museum – a recreated miner’s cottage – is a wonder to walk around” He carries on next discussing the museum “and in the parlour, bringing the scene to life even more, is a piano and the writer’s same-titled poem, which includes the lines ‘till the heart of me weeps to belong/To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside/And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.’

“Both ‘Piano’ and the tour are engaging insights into Lawrence’s childhood; and we browsed through the kitchen, washhouse and bedrooms.” He reflects on discussing Lawrence’s background which was at the fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner at Brinsley Colliery, and Lydia Beardsall, a former pupil-teacher who had been forced to perform manual work in a lace factory due to her family’s financial difficulties, “There’s also a selection of Lawrence’s watercolour paintings, highlighting the variety of his output, which also included novels, short stories, travel books and plays.”

“In the gift shop, I picked up a copy of ‘The Complete Poems of DH Lawrence’, which my wife insisted she paid for” He advises next which is a similar memory to what me and my partner has done for each other several times over the year too “and I have steadily made my way through since, adding new favourites to the poems I enjoyed through my teens and twenties. It’s fascinating to read his thoughts, lesser-known poems and more popular pieces. The book provides a more complete picture of the man, who was certainly not without controversy.”

“From dialect poems and industrialisation to detailing intimate moments in England and overseas, Lawrence’s work is heavily autobiographical” He carries on from which I agree with completely “and includes beautiful descriptions of nature. I particularly enjoy ‘Green’ (Look! We have Come Through!): ‘The dawn was apple-green,/The sky was green wine held up in the sun,/The moon was a golden petal between.//She opened her eyes, and green/They shone, clear like flowers undone/For the first time, now for the first time seen.’”

“Also, ‘Kisses in the Train’ (Love Poems and Others), Chris quotes which he points out has the following beautiful lines ; ‘I saw the midlands/Revolve through her hair;/The fields of autumn/Stretching bare,’

“His poem ‘Snake’ (Birds, Beasts and Flowers)” Chris then carries on advising me next is another of his favourites; “‘Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth/On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.’ “I love the end to this poem he smiles pointing out “‘And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords/Of life./And I have something to expiate;/A pettiness.’”

“Lawrence inspired me to re-look at nature and my own surroundings, especially during lockdown, Chris says, something that I think has impacted a lot of poets over this time whether sitting out in the back garden or walking along the canal opposite. Appreciating what’s there, its beauty, while always probing. Also, to document ‘pure’ moments, directly, that are often right in front of you – something that has been more valued recently.”

“Most of all, I admire his independence; his free verse as he broke away from Georgian poetry, participated in imagism but avoided modernism. Lawrence was heavily influenced by Walt Whitman” He concludes with something I wasn’t aware off personally but now makes perfect sense upon reflection “without falling heavily into any one bracket, and wrote in abundance and with honesty. He is not best known for his poetry and faced many critics, as well as censorship. But it is his connections to his surroundings, relationships and travel, and his willingness to reveal his heart, that stay with me.”

*

David Herbert Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English writer and poet. His collected works represent, among other things, an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. Lawrence’s writing explores issues such as sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct. His works include Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

*

Chris Campbell is a former national and regional journalist, who has released two collections of poetry. His latest, White Eye of the Needle, explores love, life and lockdown, and was published through The Choir Press in April (2021). He currently lives in Nottingham with his wife, where several of the poems were written.You can buy White Eye of the Needle via his website: www.chriscampbellpoetry.co.uk.

Andy N is the author of four full length poetry collections - the most recent being the Streets were all we could see. He is also the host / creator of 'Spoken Label' - a author / writer chat series as well as Podcast series such as Reading in Bed, Comics Unity, Wrestle-Up and the Koll, Andy N and Amanda show. He also ambient music under the name of Ocean in a Bottle. His official blog is onewriterandhispc.blogspot.com Occasionally he does sleep.