Tribute to Clare Crossman

Posted April 16, 2021
Written by Phil Furneaux

Tribute to Clare Crossman
Clare Crossman died recently from cancer.
I feel very privileged to have collaborated with Clare on the Gelt River project where she contributed by writing poems to accompany a film of the river from source to confluence with music from the RedStone Trio. The performance took place to a full house in lecture theatre in Tulley House, Carlisle on 29th Nov 2019.
Clare did not just write the poems, she inspired the project with her many suggestions for filming and music composition.
We would travel to Newcastle for rehearsals with the cellist Penny Callow and tabla player Rosh Singh. During those journeys she would give constructive suggestions but many compliments on the project which gave me the confidence needed to complete the project.
Clare and Penny joined me for a day’s walk along the river. Starting at the source in Geltsdale, a swim at Hynam and then to the confluence finishing with chocolate cake at the Farm Shop. The conversation was rich and meaningful but always full of laughter.
You will find Clare’s poems for the Gelt River at the end of this tribute.
Penny Callow quoted “It was a pleasure to work with Clare, her ideas flowed like the Gelt.”
Clare had agreed to be part of my project for next year, “A journey down the River Eden”. Her encouragement for the Gelt project will boost my confidence to carry this through although I doubt I will find a comparable poet. There was always a hidden meaning in her poetry. A little twist at the end.
Clare enriched my life while working with her, she will be missed but not forgotten.
Phil Furneaux
Some links to her work:
Clare wrote this poem in my back garden. Wewere realxing after a rehearsal and Penny and I were playing some music.
A Swallow's Flight
 A Swallow’s Flight

And so the birds arrive early

looking for insects in familiar places
the light whirr of antennae and wings.


Swallows, migrant, not of one place.
buffet the sky, shimmering

Taking their radar from the seasons.
Riding thermal currents over the seas

They seem so unstoppable, calling arching acrobats of the air.

Scattering in a huge fly past of indelible summer. 

Bound as they are by aerial flight.

Like them we are winging it too

Loosing compass, blown off course by strange weather

O swallows, is this what you are telling us in your searching? 

How difficult it is to return to familiar nests high up in barns

To keep those connections ?



New Water Old Water, A journey down the River Gelt.
3 poems:

Clare's Poems:
This Link takes you to the programme of New Water Old Water, Tulley House, Carlisle 29th Nov 2019
Programme for New Water Old Water


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