Stewart grew up in Longhope, (in the Forest of Dean). He went to school at Dene Magna, in nearby Mitcheldean, before studying Physics at Southampton University, and later completing a PhD in electrical engineering at Bristol University.
His poetry sprang from his interest in music. As a guitar player he had been working on songwriting, but he struggled with writing melodies to go with the words. Stewart says that, "each piece had an uneven rhythm to it, so I stopped trying to force them into songs, and let them expand into poems". He says that his interest in science also led him towards poetry too.
Stewart is drawn to writing about the Forest because of the many different layers to it as a place, combining different aspects and symbols to reveal, "something true". He sites its rich industrial heritage, the landscape, and contemporary, human element, including his own memories and experiences of the Forest. He says that blending all of these together, or creating parallels between different strands, is where the poems come from. "I particularly enjoy writing dark," says Stewart, "mysterious poems set in dark, mysterious landscapes".
Knots and Branches (2016)
For a full list of all of Stewart's published poetry visit: https://stewartcarswell.wordpress.com/
"The WEDDING PRESENT"
One part of the Forest I like is the old railway line between Ruspidge and Soudley. Most of the railways have been converted into cycle paths, but there's a few sections that haven't. I remember going there sometimes as a kid – I think it's the old tunnel that captured my imagination, the size of the opening and the history that was lost when it was bricked up. And there are places near there too, like Shakemantle Quarry, that I remember sometimes going to, but we always had difficulty getting back there – either because we couldn't remember how we'd got there before, or the paths had become overgrown while we were away. The Forest for me became full of all these places hidden away in it, waiting to be discovered.
sTEWART ON writing forest poetry
Stewart says he is influenced by writers such as Seamus Heaney, Dennis Potter, Liz Berry, and Richard Hugo; writers who are all connected with a very particular location and landscape.
In 2016, he led a poetry walk around the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, featuring newly written poems influenced by the sculptures, as part of the trail's 30th anniversary celebrations.
Stewart regularly returns to the Forest to visit family (his parents still live in Longhope) and friends. "I try to come back each season", he says, "to see the Forest in a different way each time."
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