In recent weeks, Launceston has been host to award-winning poet and children’s author Rachel Piercey, as she took up residence at Cyprus Well, the former home of Charles Causley.

Rachel is the most recent “poet-in-residence” with the Causley Trust. Each year, creatives from across the country visit Launceston for a chance to take up residence in Cyprus Well, the former home of famed local poet, Charles Causley.

Residents use their time to take inspiration from their surroundings, drawing on the life of Causley and getting to know the poet from his home and town. Rachel has been living at Cyprus Well since the beginning of March, exploring Launceston and holding events in the local area.

Speaking to the Post about where she had first heard about Causley’s work, Rachel explained that the recent lockdowns had given her time to catch up on her reading list, which included Charles’ work.

She said: “In lockdown I had my pile of books, labelled ‘to read’, which I was finally able to work my through, and at some point I’d got the Collected Poems for Children by Charles Causley, and I sat down with them and absolutely fell in love with them! I found them utterly deep and delightful and magical and musical, I really identified with the outlook and language of the poems, and I was hooked from there.”

Much of the work Rachel does is centred around children’s poetry, having written for the children’s Poetry Summit, running a children’s poetry workshop and acting as editor for Tyger Tyger Magazine, an online journal of poems for young people, it is no surprise that Rachel believes that poetry and literature is important for children to experience. “It encourages them [young people] to express themselves, use their imagination, and it teaches empathy,” she told the Post. “There is a great freedom in writing poetry, you don’t have to stick to any rules, when you decide to create a poem, you’re in control of what it does and how it looks on the page. You have this opportunity to create this world on this A4 piece of paper.

“I go into primary schools a lot, and all children have an innate and uninhibited connection with poetry, they really get it, because its music and it’s strangeness and it’s imaginative depth, so to give them the opportunity to read it and write it, is all for the good.”

The Causley Trust is also incredibly important to Rachel, calling their work “crucial”, she said: “It’s crucial, its such a pleasure to go into schools locally round here and to say “who has heard of Charles Causley?” And everyone sticks their hands up because they all know that he’s their local poet, they know that he wrote about the local area and told it’s stories. So the Causley Trust’s work is promoting Charles and what an amazing poet he was and how special it is to have him as your local poet; they’re doing invaluable work!

“All the staff love Causley and his work, which really shines through in all their activities. As well as a big local impact they spread the word and create opportunities more widely as well with their members’ magazine, website, social media and creative blog, The Maker - which has regular calls for submission. They are a wonderful organisation and a pleasure to work with.

And during her time here with the trust at Cyprus Well, Rachel has been taking inspiration from the very same walls and surroundings that Causley did during his life. “I’ve been writing most days, I’ve got a set of notebooks which are full of words and ideas and I’ve written a few drafts of poems,” she explained. “I know its all going to percolate in my brain for a long time and its also given me a richer understanding of his [Causley] poems and so I’ll be able to go away and re-read them and find new resonances inside them.”

Rachel says she will certainly be returning to Launceston after her residency ends: “I’ve never been to Launceston before but it is such a nice town and everyone is so friendly, I think I’ve visited all the shops, there are great shops, great cafés, I’ve got my favourites! I really like it here and I’ll definitely be back!”