A Celebration of Frances Horovitz

A Celebration of Frances Horovitz
St John the Baptist, Orcop, HR2 8ES

Saturday October 5th 2013 at 3 pm

1255182_10151861969760446_1105510071_nOn Saturday October 5th a veritable galaxy of poets, writers and performers will gather at the village church of Orcop in Herefordshire to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of the poet Frances Horovitz, who is buried in the churchyard there.

Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, will be joined by the poet and writer David Constantine, whose Tea at the Midland and Other Stories has just won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the ceramic artist and writer Edmund de Waal, whose account of his family’s extraordinary history, The Hare with Amber Eyes, became a bestseller, and Glenn Storhaug, the poet and founder of the Five Seasons Press, whose beautifully-designed books, published in Herefordshire, are collected worldwide.

Frances’ son Adam Horovitz is following his first book of poems, Turning, with a book on the Slad Valley that mingles childhood memories of his mother with youthful encounters with Laurie Lee. He will read with his father Michael Horovitz, the poet and founder of New Departures and the Poetry Olympics.

Frances’ Collected Poems was edited by her second husband, the poet and writer Roger Garfitt. It has just come out in a new edition that includes a CD of a reading Frances gave in 1982. Roger will perform her work with Sue Harris on the hammered dulcimer and Frances’ niece Zoe Smith, who is Head of Ensemble Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, will play Vaughan Williams’ Prelude founded on the Welsh Hymn tune Rhosymedre on the organ.

The Celebration will begin at 3 pm and tickets will be £10 at the door. All proceeds will go the church and tea and cakes will be provided by the parishioners. Frances’ distinctive headstone was a gift from the blacksmith Sim Lawrence. He chose a local stone, taken from below the waterfall at Rowlestone Mill, which Frances often used as a writing retreat, and set into it a wrought iron cross of his own making. Over the years the inscription has weathered and the Celebration will mark the installation of a new tablet bearing the inscription, set below the headstone and carved by Carrie Horwood in Forest of Dean sandstone.

The tablet is the gift of Frances’ sister Olive Smith and her husband Alan, with contributions from Roger Garfitt and Adam Horovitz.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline Jacques September 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

I remember Frances and Olive from school in Walthamstow, some fifty-something years ago. That Frances went on to become a renowned poet is inspiring. My husband and I came across her glass memorial in Orcop church by accident, never realising that she was actually buried a few yards away in the grounds. I wish I could be there for the Celebration service and see the new headstone installed. I am sure it will be a memorable and moving occasion.

Jane Percival September 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

The program sounds wonderful, Adam .
I am bringing my friend Audrey Morris with me knowing she will enjoy it too.
See you there….. cant wait….
Much love,
Jane x

Mandy January 18, 2014 at 11:08 am

Rain – Birdoswald is my very favourite poem. I identify with it so totally it is as though the thoughts are my thoughts and I am standing under that leafless tree. I memorised it and recite it aloud when I am at the bottom of the garden taking shelter under a tree in the rain when I am tending my bonfire or working in the garden. I am not a poet or a writer. I am not a person of any significance but I do want to say what a wonderful poem it is and therefore what a gifted person Frances Horovitz must have been. As you share the surname I am guessing that you must be related. This is simply to convey my thanks and appreciation.

Adam Horovitz January 19, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Thanks for your comment Mandy. Yes, it’s a magnificent poem. I remember my mother reading it to me not long after she’d written it, and even aged 10/11 it haunted me.

Jason Smith March 8, 2017 at 7:39 am

I would simply say that Frances Horovitz was one of the finest poets in English literature, and this poem is her masterpiece. I periodically return to it when those deeper thoughts about death and passing come to the fore in one’s life. Her flawless diction and quality of delivery make her seem like a ministering angel, attending to all our needs.

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