Work by Rosemary Hill :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson
`Admiral of the Bering’ Recalls Alaska
Isobel Wylie Hutchison 1889-1982, Edinburgh; botanist, film-maker, writer, artist and intrepid Arctic explorer; awarded the Mungo Park Medal, 1934; vice president of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
From Quines by Gerda Stevenson
Title of work: ‘Destination: Demarcation Point’
Out of so many enthralling poems in Gerda’s work why pick this one? Two aspects of the poem particularly excited me. Firstly, I often try to create a strong spirit of place in my work, and clearly this poem is filled with the icy splendour of the Arctic, and secondly Alaska is an area I have visited, albeit in the summer and with the comforts of modern transport.
I felt I could empathise with the magic felt by the subject, Isobel Wylie Hutchison. Once I started looking at her life, I became fascinated with her story. She was an intrepid botanist, explorer and geographer whose life has been totally overlooked. There are many aspects of the poem which could be developed, but I have stuck to the drama of the landscape with the icebound Bering Sea, the Northern Lights, and the fragile shelter Isobel shared with her unlikely guide, Bolshevik Gus.