Peter Riley recently retired to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, after living for 28 years in Cambridge. He has been a teacher, lecturer, bookseller, bus conductor, and a few other things.
He is the author of fifteen books of poetry, and some of prose concerning travel and music.
His most recent books are The Glacial Stairway (Carcanet 2011) and a book-length poem, Due North (Shearsman 2015) which was shortlisted for the Forward Best Collection Prize in 2015.
‘In Peter Riley’s Pennine Tales we hear the music of the high moors, stone farms, wooded hillsides and small towns of the Upper Calder Valley. It is a world of movement: of trains and buses, the wind, and time which, through the auspices of the ‘capital aristocracy’, has brought industrial and spiritual degeneration, a human crisis not confined to this valley. But there is hope. There is light in living-room windows, ‘no end to our patience and assurance’. There is ‘old trust which survives and needs us.’ There are also these beautiful poems.’
‘Over decades of writing Peter Riley has refined and deepened his sense of how poetry can be capable of mediating between inner and outer experience in a way that makes for free passage to and fro. This theme was apparent in his remarkable recent sequence Due North. In these new poems the match is explicit, with the continuing life of a locality set in an even and fertile interplay with a mental life ranging freely within it. This is not a minor publication’.
‘Pennine Tales is a poetic exploration of landscape in the tradition of Clare, Langley, Sebald; that is to say: observant, philosophical, meditative. In fine stride as a poet, Peter Riley can write:
… Love is a gravitation, follow/Me to the last post. The reader surely will.’
Ian Brinton reviews Pennine Tales in ‘Tears in the Fence’ – https://tearsinthefence.com/2016/07/29/pennine-tales-by-peter-riley-calder-valley-poetry/
Red flicker through the trees. The last minibus
leaves from the station, heading for the tops
full of ghosts, ghosts with notebooks, ancestors
from Halifax: farmers, publicans, clerks, looking
for me, wanting me back in the peace and jubilee
of diurnal normality. But they have caught
the wrong bus and will be delivered into nothing,
the nothing of death they came from, and came here
to welcome me to. Passing the abandoned chapel
they start singing hymns, and will soon begin to fade.
Down here another train rolls in and the dark river
splashes past on the stones of demolished mills,
let go of me.