CYPRUS Well, former home of Launceston poet Charles Causley, has welcomed its latest writer-in-residence.
French writer Lou Sarabadzic is the writer-in-residence for the latter part of 2019, with her residency running until the end of December.
Stepping out of the cool autumn air of the Cornish lane on Ridgegrove Hill and into Cyprus Well, the influence of Charles Causley on writing and literature only becomes too clear.
The charming tiny cottage looks untouched, as if Charles is still there. With its dark carpets and mahogany furniture, books upon the shelves and writing desk ready for pen to meet paper, it is easy to see how writers would experience the inspiration from the Cornish town that Charles would have felt when he lived here years ago.
Welcoming the Post into her temporary abode, Lou instantly commented on the house, describing it as ‘cosy’ and ‘welcoming’ — the perfect place to spend her residency and produce some new work.
The writer-in-residence programme is run by the Charles Causley Trust with the aim of promoting Causley’s work through modern day writers and poets, and allowing them to explore their own work and creativity whilst working with the community.
This work within the area, including schools, local groups and organisations, is done with the aim of encouraging people to embrace the work of Charles Causley and to even give writing a go themselves.
Lou hasn’t wasted any time in getting stuck in, having attended the Poetry Slam event held in Launceston Town Hall in honour of National Poetry Day on October 3.
She said: “It’s going really well. It’s really nice to finally be here and I received the warmest welcome from Kate and Rachel from the Trust. Because this house is so cosy, I feel like I can work straight away. This started with the Poetry Slam last night, which was great.”
Lou, who was born in Lyon but grew up in the French Alps and is now based in Leamington Spa, is looking forward to the entirety of her residency, and although waiting to be confirmed, she has lots of plans for workshops and visits to take place within the town.
She said: “I intend to work with local community groups and schools, and I hope to engage with as many people as possible, of all kinds of different ages and backgrounds.”
Having moved to the UK ten years ago, in February this year Lou became a full-time writer. As well as her current residency in Cyprus Well, Lou has taken part in a residency in France, where she has also produced two books — a novel, ‘La Vie Verticale’ in 2016, and a poetry collection, ‘Ensemble’ in 2017.
‘Ensemble’ was awarded the Prix de la Crypte-Jean Lalaude, and her poems have also appeared in both French and English publications. In English, her poems have appeared in ‘harana poetry’, ‘The Interpreter’s House’, ‘Morphrog’, ‘Gutter’, ‘A)GLIMPSE)OF)’ and ‘ZeTMaG’.
Last year, Lou was selected to be a member of Room 204, Writing West Midlands Writer’s Programme.
Lou is also a keen blogger, with her two blogs available in both English and French, on OCD and mental health. In 2018, she received the Dot Award for Digital Writing by if:book UK.
“I was born in Lyon, but I grew up in the Alps, which as you can probably imagine has some beautiful scenery,” Lou said. “In France, I didn’t know him (Charles Causley) at all, but in the UK he is a reference to many people with his writing for both children and adults. I am interested in the borders between the two. Because he was so famous here, I wanted to see his work, which I found really impressive. Many people still see him as a children’s poet.”
Lou already knew of the Charles Causley Trust due to her work as a writer. She said: “I knew of the Charles Causley Trust from the competition, which I didn’t enter myself but was aware of. When you’re a full-time writer you need to see what’s going on in the field.
“The interview process was very nice, and it was just stunning to be in Charles’ house for the interview. I thought to myself, even if I don’t get it, I will have taken so much from it because I got to see his house. I felt inspired straight away.
“I am always really moved by writers’ places, just knowing I’m in the same place as they once were. It’s a really beautiful experience.”
Lou’s latest book is a poetry collection in French — ‘Portrait du bon goût en individu ma foi plutôt aimable’, which was launched by Belgian publisher Le Chat Polaire. She will publish the book ‘Notre vie n’est que mouvement’, a novel based on her trip to Italy through Switzerland and Germany this summer, in the footsteps of French philosopher Michel de Montaigne.
Lou was keen to get her work rolling as soon as possible. She said: “It’s going very well so far. I, of course, will talk more with Kate and Rachel in relation to what I’ll be working on, but I’ve already been doing things, such as the Poetry Slam last night. I have also visited the library and got my library card — that’s always one of the first things I do. But I’m really keen to start the conversation with what I can do. Because Cyprus Well feels so cosy and welcoming, I have been able to start writing straight away.”
Lou writes fiction and poetry, which is why she classes herself as a ‘writer’ rather than limiting herself to just one form of literature: “In the UK I have mostly published poetry. I also blog a lot — I really like digital writing, and that’s another way to reach more people. I see it as a way of encouraging people to access literature.
“During my residency, I will mainly be working on poetry, as I want to really focus on developing a poetry collection. Working here to do that is an absolute privilege. Themes I will be looking at, particularly in this difficult political time and me being French, will be going across the borders.”
Lou also hopes to visit Launceston Library again in the hope of holding a new workshop there, as the library has a writers’ group. She also wants to reach out to Access Theatre, as she would ‘love to work with them’, but her plans are still in discussion and yet to be confirmed with the Charles Causley Trust at this early stage in her residency.
“I’m passionate about sharing my love for literature and poetry,” Lou continued. “I hope to be introduced to people and see what they think of Charles’ poetry, and what it means to them to have a writer-in-residence in the town on occasion.
“I am absolutely amazed to be in Cornwall. Everybody I speak to both in France and the UK thinks it’s incredible that I am here and keeps asking me to send pictures. So for me it’s about the excitement of being here, in Charles’ home and in Cornwall.”
She added: “I hope I will contribute to the aim of promoting the work and poetry of Charles Causley.”
Kate Campbell, director of the Charles Causley Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have Lou join us as the newest Causley writer-in-residence. She impressed us so much at interview with her passion for her craft, and her ideas and enthusiasm for working with local community groups really inspired us, so we are excited to see what unfolds over the next three months!”