Pen Portrait - Heather Lane
Heather has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember, but only recently considered publishing more than the occasional piece. Born in Cornwall, she lived in the Peak District in her teens, before reading English at Oxford University, specialising in Anglo-Saxon and medieval languages and literatures. A year as a trainee at the British Library was enough to convince her that life in London was not for her. After a further degree in Library and Information Science in Aberystwyth, her first professional post was at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, starting in 1983, and qualifying as a Chartered Librarian shortly afterwards.
She worked for 30 years in Cambridge libraries, archives and museums, latterly as Librarian & Keeper of Collections at the Scott Polar Research Institute. She was part of the Thresholds project, which brought ten poets in residence into the university's museums and collections. In 2015, she moved to the Yorkshire Dales, returning in 2017-18 to oversee the remodelling of the University Museum of Zoology Cambridge.
She now lives in Littondale, and runs her own cultural heritage advisory practice, including consultancy for the National Lottery Heritage Fund. She enjoys gardening, theatre and classical music, and is an avid visitor to museums and heritage sites.
The thing is ...
you come striding in, ambushing life,
questioning what it is to be old,
defying the mind's age; ordering
the helter-skelter scatter of seeing.
No craft can steer away
from the reefs and shoals of phenomenon,
ways of matching, subterranean
biology, a thought world in which
ambergris and witch-hazel taste the same
and relic whalebone is both
touchstone and a dream of flying.
Seek the world's magic in the toadstone
and the taro stone, evidence of unicorn
and leviathan, the magnetic tug of each
pole, navigating by shadow and constraint.
A sigh is catalyst, folding time's coastline,
a breath between ages, through contiguous
strata; a delicate erosion. The object
is resonant with shared thought:
silicate fusion, refracting at the boundary.
Smooth skinned youth, your fragile sheen
an intercessor, bright as the limbs
of southern beeches in the winter light;
the compass nail conducts both souls and
lightning; truth is written on the glass.
The thing is ... was exhibited as part of The Polar Muse project at the Polar Museum, University of Cambridge, 2014.