On Learning of a Death, Almost a Year Later


You rang, and I was immersed
In Persia, poetry flowed
Like desert hospitality 
Love of thought 
Crowded a small office,
Love of language lifted 
Stones from long dead dreams.
The Archive rang
Like Moscow bells
and fell quiet
and silent;
like your father, voiceless on the beach;
but only so the sail could catch another wind.
You rang, and broke a long relentless hurricane
of dark days and dark times
Into light-filled harbours,
Sailing sound into
Unexpected places
Gazing into unfathomed waters,
anchored deep in music, art
And deeper still
In Eva.
Shaw, who brought us together
would be proud of himself somewhere,
arms folded;
But saddened 
and more silenced, now
that you have been lifted;
And more than a little
No mean feat.







Some explanation from Craig:

Sometime probably in 2000 or 2001 the phone rang in the Archive, and I 'met' Neill Edwards, phoning from America. Neill was an ex-Red Hill School boy, an Englishman living then in Connecticut, whose father had been killed defusing a mine on Corton Sands in 1942. He wanted to talk about Otto Shaw and Red Hill School. It was a start of regular and usually very long and certainly very rich phone calls which wound through his life and career; reading poetry he wrote many years earlier, as a telecommunications engineer travelling around and living among local people in Iran at the time of the Shah; reading new poems, and drafts of new poems; making the work of the Archive feel valued and significant during an extended and extremely difficult time; weaving art, science, philosophy, music, literature, and always Red Hill School into a compelling exploration of the possibilities of the future. He was a sailor, and when he moved with his late-in-life-found love Eva de Lourdes from the snow of New England to the sun and rain of Puerto Rico to take up her position at the University of Puerto Rico, it was in their boat; they sailed there together. Over time the phone calls moved from the Archive to home, and his extraordinarily expressive, deep voice became a regular part of the family. He didn't record. There was no phone call this year. When the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, there was nothing from or about him. There were no recent Facebook posts from him. He had died in December, 2016. We discovered this in November 2017.


From The Joint Newsletter 10, April/Spring 2004.


  • And there is more. For example, the poem below, from the Joint Newsletter No. 6, November 2002, written when Neill was still living in Connecticut. A honed and enquiring mind applied to the essential question of ours, or any time; and focused through the experience and life of a boy whose father evaporated out of his life, and whose once-bullied life had rested on the edge of a knife-blade:

neill almost haiku

  • Neill's poems on the back page of Joint Newsletter 4, March 2002, are very much worth reading: Don't take my word for it, explore here. This was part of a long answer to the question: Who are these "maladjusted" children who passed through the therapeutic community system? What became of them? Where are they now? What difference did it make?