Captain’s Log: Supplemental – Edmund Cusick R.I.P

Sometime last year I received the sad news that a very dear friend of mine had died a couple of months previously.  It was quite funny (getting the news) in a horribly sad sort of way.  We were the sort of friends who mailed or wrote to each other about once or twice a year depending on which way the wind was blowing, and I’d mailed him to catch him up on all the latest events in our lives.  I sent the mail with some picture attachments and it bounced.  I sent it several different ways, thinking it might be the pictures or something that were causing it to bounce, but it still bounced.  In the end I assumed that his in box must be full and that I would ring him to tell him to clear it out so that I could bore him with the latest family photos. 

 

His name was Edmund Cusick and he worked at Liverpool John Moore’s University as Head of their Creative Writing Department.  Anyway, I rang the switchboard and asked to be put through to his office, at which point the poor receptionist said: ‘But he’s gone!’ and I said: ‘Gone where?’ and she said: ‘He’s dead.’ And I said: ‘But he can’t be (duh!), because last time I spoke to him, he was quite alive.’ At which point I burst into tears and she was rendered speechless.  Eventually I said: ‘How did he die?’ thinking it must have been an accident because he wasn’t old.  She told me it was a brain tumour and that it had been very quick, a matter of weeks and that he’d died in January. 

 

Then, bless her, she said: ‘I don’t understand why you didn’t know.  It was in the newspaper.’  At which point I said: ‘What newspaper?’ and she said: ‘The Liverpool Echo’.  I pointed out that only people who live in Liverpool generally read The Liverpool Echo, bein’ as how it’s got quite a lot to do with Liverpool, but isn’t much use to you if you live in Glenfield.  She agreed and then asked me if there was anything else she could do to help.  I couldn’t think of anything other than wave a magic wand to bring him back to life, and as she was the sort of person who thought everyone in the Western Hemisphere must either live in Liverpool or subscribe to its newspapers I didn’t think this would be her forte.  To be fair to the woman I probably shocked the living daylights out of her and she was at a bit of a loss.  For all I know she could be as bright as a button.

 

Anyway, her comment was the only thing that cheered me up that day as I sat and roared my way through a box of Kleenex Balsam.  At some point my dad came round and I opened the door with tears streaming down my face.  He asked me what was wrong so I told him and then he went: ‘Ah well, you only spoke to him a couple of times of year, so that’s alright then.  He can’t have been that much of a friend.’ At this point I wavered over biffing him repeatedly over the head with a bit of two by four, but decided against it thinking that my dad really isn’t good at emotional issues within the family and that it was slightly better than him offering to describe the inner workings of anti lock breaks which is what he has done on previous occasions.

 

So, Edmund has been on my mind a lot ever since, because I don’t feel like I really got to say goodbye to him properly, or to tell him how important he was to me.  He just keeps popping into my head like crispy toast flying out of a toaster.  I thought I might like to write something about him so that I can ‘move on’ as they say, although that really isn’t the right term.  I really just wanted to talk to him for a bit I suppose. 

 

Someone has opened a kind of memory box site for him, but you can’t say much there and I’ve always been a long winded kind of girl, and I can’t work out how to work it properly, so I didn’t.  I was thinking about him again today for some reason, and I thought that this might be an actual, useful and legitimate use for my blog, rather than the usual rambling nonsense.  I mean it will still be rambling nonsense because I don’t know any other way to write, but it will have a purpose, and surely that’s a good thing?

 

I met him when I first went to university, way back in the mists of time.  I believe it was 1990, but I’m not good on dates, so don’t quote me.  It was my first time being a proper student (i.e. one that turned up because they wanted to learn things, and actually called tutors by their real names, instead of ‘Sir’), and I believe it was his first time as a tutor, my tutor to be exact.

 

Getting to grips with university as a whole was a bit daunting, and it was really, really weird to be asked to contribute to learning instead of just listening, taking notes and regurgitating things ad nauseam. I remember being completely baffled by the whole thing and rather intimidated.  The one bright spot of the week was Edmund’s tutorial.  We knew we were crap and we just needed some reassurance.  He provided it in bucket loads, not because he was crap as a tutor (far from it), but because he was pretty crap at being a human being, and we really needed that.

 

He reminded me totally of Uncle Quentin from The Famous Five, a crazy, shambolic genius who could in his case, take apart the inner workings of complex and baffling poetry rather than splitting the atom, but who couldn’t boil a kettle, do his shoe laces up or remember where he was supposed to be when.  It was fascinating.  Every week we would turn up, agog to see what he would do next.  People used to skip lessons and lectures they didn’t like in those days, and what with the excitement of being let out to play away from our parents for the first time, it was a fairly common occurrence, but I really don’t remember anybody skipping one of his tutorials, once.

 

The first week we got there he offered us a hot drink, presumably to relax us.  Then he couldn’t find the kettle.  He finally found it behind a pot plant somewhere, but then he couldn’t find the lead for the kettle.  He ruffled about, chatting to himself and opening random drawers.  Eventually he found it in the filing cabinet, but not until he’d pulled out a variety of leather studded belts (which we all looked at wide eyed), and a box of cereal.  He was, as I recall, rather fond of cereal, and there was generally several boxes to be found scattered about his office.  Anyway, I don’t think we ever did get that hot drink, because of course that was only the beginning, and we still had to track down cups and tea and coffee themselves.  It did help to relax us though.  We knew we could talk to a man who couldn’t even boil a kettle.

 

He was, it has to be said, a brilliant teacher.  He was one of those very rare human beings who manages to inculcate in you a love of the subject just because he himself loves it so much.  Enthusiasm radiated out of him.  I learned to see poetry for the first time because of him.  It was like someone switching the light on, and I will always, always be grateful.  I also blame him for my terrible, terrible poetry, which I still write occasionally, and keep in a dark cupboard somewhere.  I don’t blame him for the fact that I never escaped the doom laden clutches of Sylvia Plath, but if he hadn’t been so encouraging, just think of all the trees I could have saved. I also think of him every time I write my blog, because of course, eventually I will write a novel and it will be down to him entirely.  So don’t write to complain to me. It’s his fault.

 

Over the course of the year we became friends, and of course I fell in love with him, because at some point most people who came across him, whether they were men or women, invariably did.  He was very kind and very patient, and put up with my visits, questions and dubious poetry. He learned to work his kettle, and at times was known to share his cereal.  I was gutted that he was leaving at the end of the year.  I wanted to take his other courses, which first years didn’t get to do, ones on fantasy writing, where he took you to ruined castles at midnight and did readings and filled you with enthusiasm for even more crazy stuff. It was never to be, sadly.

 

At the end of the year he left to go to Liverpool and I only saw him again three times, once at a residential course we went on about ballads, once at our final year ball to which he went with my most excellent best friend Rachel, and once more at our graduation.  I always meant to visit and never got round to it, and I’m really sorry now that I didn’t.

 

So, that’s it in a nutshell, but there is more, so much more to say, and as it’s my blog I’m going to say it.  So here are some of the things I remember and some of the things that made him such a cool friend:

 

  • He never complained when I sent him a jar of honey and a pop gun for his birthday and the honey smashed over the pop gun, even though he must have wondered why I had sent him a sticky gun covered in glass.

 

  • He bought me my very own Swiss Army knife which not only did he have consecrated by a White Witch of his acquaintance, but which also had my name engraved on it.  I still have it, although I am sorry to say I’ve lost the bit where you pick stones out of horses hooves.  It was incredibly important to me because we had been talking one day and I had told him that my dad had never let me have a pen knife when I was a kid because he said I was a girl, and that girls shouldn’t have them.  I was so touched that he remembered, and that he didn’t really see me as ‘just a girl!’

 

  • He first introduced me to some very cool books such as; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, Demian by Herman Hesse and the author Tanith Lee.

 

  • He put up with me obsessively doodling during his classes, even though it drove him nuts.  He always said he thought it meant I wasn’t paying attention, and then when he was just about to shout, I would say something which meant I was paying attention all along.  Ha! The Devil makes work for idle hands you know…

 

  • He once helped me run away from things when I was very, very miserable, for which I will always be profoundly grateful.

 

  • He hugged trees, even when people were watching.  When he left, someone went round campus and wrote on every tree in chalk: ‘This was Edmund’s Tree’.

 

  • When I revisit university, which I have done half a dozen times, I always look at the window to his office, and even though it has been used by other people way more, it will always be his.  Once when I saw a light on there one evening I got unreasonably happy thinking that he might have come back for a quick bowl of cereal!

 

  • He once said that he thought I would get on well with Michael Moorcock.  He had to read tons of Michael’s books for an article he was doing.  At the time I was going through a phase of being obsessed by people with weird deformities, not the Elephant Man you understand, more like Jezza Beadle and his weird little hand, and John Thaw and his limp.  Edmund drew parallels with one of the hero’s of Moorcock’s books who was an albino dwarf slayer and thought if I developed my obsession far enough I might have a career in fantasy writing!  I have never actually read Moorcock, but whenever I see his books on the shelf in a bookshop I always think of Edmund.

 

  • My continuing obsession with making up strange specialist magazine titles such as Stoats Weekly, First for Stoats, is directly from Edmund.  Thanks for that.

 

  • I once spent a solstice huddled round a fire on a Welsh hillside with him and Rachel.  It was a bloody awful evening! I will always remember it as my first and only solstice celebration.

 

  • He used to bark a lot, out loud, wherever he was, regardless of who was there.  Sometimes he would also howl like a wolf.  He once nearly made the head of department fall downstairs.  It was very cool.

 

  • He had a good eye for a postcard.  My favourite one from him was a picture of a Nun playing darts which said: ‘180 for the Mother Superior’.  I don’t know why it made me laugh, but it did.  I had it on my wall for ages.

 

  • He was absolutely rubbish at Tai Chi (he may have improved in the years that followed, to be fair to him).  He used to practice by the river bank down from the university library. When we were ‘studying’ there, we would often spend a good half hour staring out of the library window watching him wobbling about like a drunken pelican.  He was particularly bad at standing on one leg and would regularly fall over.  It never seemed to put him off too much.

 

  • He always seemed absolutely amazed by the world and the fact that he was in it.  There was always an element of faint surprise in his eyes.  It was almost as if he was startled that you could see him, and that he wasn’t in fact a ghost wandering through life randomly staring at people and just getting on with things nobody else was aware of.

 

  • He once told me when he was in Liverpool that he had tried a dating service for a while.  I asked him how it had gone and he said in his soft voice, that always sounded a bit sad: ‘Ohhhh, Katy! You know, it just didn’t go well.  I ended up having a terrible day and met the date in a restaurant with a carrier bag with a My Little Pony and a carving knife in it. I just couldn’t explain it well enough, and she couldn’t get over it.’  I howled.

 

  • Once he told me that he didn’t ever think he would get married. I asked him why and he said that his mother and father had lived together happily for years and he had never heard them exchange a cross word.  He couldn’t imagine settling for anything less, but he’d never met anyone he could live with like that and he didn’t think he ever would.  He was a quiet man who didn’t like to talk about his personal life much, and when I eventually did find his obituary thanks to the wonders of Google, I was surprised and delighted to know that he had a wife and several children.  I was so very pleased to think that he had finally found that person to be with, however short a time he had with them.

 

  • He was the first person to read my fortune.  Sitting on a gravestone in the local church yard he read my palm, not in a flaky, faux mystical way, but in a totally matter of fact way.  He was really good.  I still remember what he said to me, and I just want to let him know; ‘you were right’.

 

There were few times that we argued, but once I remember saying to him that I thought his problem (always fatal those arguments: ‘you know what your problem is?’) was the fact that he wasn’t really real.  He asked me to explain and the best I could come up with was the idea that he was a man who lived on the very cusp between one world and another.  He would never be fully present in the world because of that, but it was what made him able to teach and write the way he did.  He looked quite sad and said that he thought I might be right about that.  That’s partly why I can’t really believe that he’s dead.  It’s almost as if he just stepped off the path for a moment into that other world that he could always see, and that one day, in five or ten or twenty years time he will just reappear as if he’d never been away.  I hope so.

51 responses to “Captain’s Log: Supplemental – Edmund Cusick R.I.P

  1. Not sure how I stumbled accross your blog but am so pleased I did. I’m also an old friend of Edmund’s and I loved what you wrote about him, in fact I laughed so much at bits of it (all the while with a lump in my throat). Thanks so much for writing it. Oh, and yes, he did get a bit better at Tai Chi!

  2. Hi Daisy,
    It’s lovely to hear from you. Thanks so much for writing, and for letting me know about the Tai Chi. It’s probably safe to say that he was only ever going to get better at it at that point! Take care.
    Kx

  3. Hello again, that conversation you had with Edmund about him not being real… I just wanted to let you know that it stayed with him for years and years… he told me about it not long before he died and he wrote about it too. Also, it’s probably worth mentioning at this point that I’m a massive Ray Mears and Starbucks chocolate cornflake cake fan too! Dxx

  4. Hiya again!
    It’s always worth mentioning those things. Ray Mears is definitely going to be my luxury item on Desert Island Discs should I ever be blessed with an invite.

    Thanks for letting me know. I am really, really touched by your kindness.
    Kx

  5. Hello, what lovely comments you wrote about Edmund. Like Daisy, I can say that he did get better at Tai Chi, though it wasn’t exactly elegant. He didn’t get any tidier though.

    It wasn’t brain tumour that took Edmund away from his family and friends, it was cancer of the Oesopohagus or thereabouts. It happened very quickly and many people only found out a couple of months later like me, (I live in another country), and even though we wrote weekly and more, but it was the holidays and he told me he was tired and unwell and would write after Christmas. but time went on. I found out through an automated message…not the best way. Everyone presumed everyone else knew. The worst thing must be that his two little girls have to grow up without him.
    He had a memorial in Liverpool more recently, and a book launch, too late to tell you about them I’m afraid. Perhaps you already know about them.

    Pink xxxxx

  6. Just thought on. I suppose the cancer could have spread. He did say to a friend that the bugger was everywhere now. This happened to my mum, she had cancer elsewhere and it spread to her brain. It was removed but we presumed it grew back as she showed the same symptoms just before she died. Perhaps this is what happened, and hence the confusion.

    Pink xxxxx

  7. Hi Pink
    Thank you for letting me know. I wasn’t very coherent when I spoke to the lady which may also account for the confusion 🙂 Thanks so much for adding your thoughts and comments. Poor you, yes, a terrible way to find out.

    I did know about the reading, but not until fairly late on and it was too late to organise babysitting unfortunately. I would really love to have gone.

    I know what you mean about his children, poor mites. I would imagine that the only real blessing is that they didn’t have to watch him suffer for a long time. That’s really hard for kids to understand. Small consolation though.
    Kx

  8. Well, I didn’t get to go either. I would have liked to but my circumstances prevented it. For the past few years Edmund and I did a lecture together on witchcraft, though I handled the seminar. By coincidence I won’t be going it alone as the modules have now all been changed. Yes, we all miss him.
    Pink xxxxx

  9. yvonne cullen

    Hello, katyboo, my name is Yvonne Cullen. I met Edmund on an Arvon Foundation course in the Highlands in ’97, I think. I loved him immediately. He’d brought slippers to the course and so looked more comfy and relaxed than anyone else there all week, and so relaxed the rest of us. We promised to send eachother poems every equinox and to be harsh and helpful critics of eachother’s work. We did it once or twice then tailed off… I tracked him down to Liverpool John Moores, may even have written to him once there…crazy life kept me from having the time to keep in touch with one of the loveliest people I’ve met. But I feel as if I was nearly present in those years of his I missed, after reading your blog. ( I’d found a mention of Ice Maidens today on Amazon while I was looking for Writer’s handbooks, and I’d just decided very happily to write to Edmund when I found news of his death. I’m speechless and grateful to you for the blog. Here’s to him,
    Yvonne

  10. Hi Yvonne,
    I think most people were shocked and found out almost by accident, so we’re in good company there :). I gather he kept his illness from people so they wouldn’t get upset, bless him.
    Lovely to hear from you. All the very best.
    Katyx

  11. Scottish Rachel

    I found your blog through a friend we are both students and friends of Edmund’s. Thank you so much for this blog entry I too cried and laughed in equal measure and it’s a very fitting tribute to a wonderful man.

    I’m hoping to have a more formal ‘remembrance of Edmund website up and running by October. Would you be interesting in contributing? I particularly loved your description of E’s tai chi! I always thought of his early attempts as like a mongoose balancing in a wind tunnel, and yes he did improve marginally ! His wife Christina and his two children are wonderful, wonderful people. In all the years I knew him he was very ethereal, clumsy, wonderfully eccentric and overwhelmingly kind, he never lost that feeling of being between two worlds but he was perhaps the most contented and spiritual person I’ve ever known.

    Damn, now I’m sniffling again. Thanks for this entry.

    Scottish Rachel

  12. Hi Scottish Rachel

    It’s wonderful to hear from you. I’m glad you found me and I would be delighted to contribute to your site. Keep me in the loop.

    It’s been brilliant talking to people who knew him. It kind of keeps him alive, and it’s amazing to see how he managed to be so very generous with the life he had.

    Kx

  13. HI Katy my name is Ray, I was a student/friend of Edmund’s (did he have any other kind) for my 5 years in JMU and after as well. In fact I still am.
    Edmund is a hoarder and his friend’s are a part of that hoard. Cath, my partner, and another of Ed’s student/friends, describes the hoard as the creative filing system .
    Edmund’s genius showed in his ability to draw, out of that hoard, whatever was essential to the moment. In doing that with student/friend’s he drew out their (often hidden) strength’s.
    No psychology here ,or selfishness either. Quite often the work of the moment was simply the personal development of one of his students. More than a teacher, Ed was the sage king of old: he could read your present (and your presence) intuitively.
    He didnt fit in to a modern teaching system, and so – back to the hoard. He created a support system which meant he was able to continue the work of creativity and so it became self-perpetuating. One student class became four student classes and so on. And though he was able to be the professional teacher, a great deal of his work, as described, was necessarilly intuitive.
    His best creation was the residential program. One became four, then six, and students were able to take part in a process which did more than the teaching system would allow.
    I use this process now with students of my own and the results are the same.
    His only real point of order in all of this chaos was Christina, Imogen and Amber (Demi (dog) as well I suppose).
    We all know a little of Edmund (being a part of that living creative hoard) but they know all of him.
    Wonderfull family, as you’d expect, and I am sure they will be happy to hear from his many friends .
    Hope you are well and HELO TO SCOTTISH RACHEL. RING ME SAY HELLO.
    Regards ray

  14. Hi Ray
    Fantastic to hear from you. I’m so glad I wrote this post. Every so often someone contacts me and gives a little of themselves and keeps everything alive, and it’s brilliant.
    Thanks so much.
    Kx

  15. I knew Edmund from Aberdeen when we both stayed in Dunbar Hall. He used to interpret my dreams and helped me save my Yucca from dying. His room was completely disordered but he said it was because he had an ordered mind. He told us Welsh legends in the dark in his room – Edmund lying on his bed and us girls sitting where we could find a space. I remember the alarm clock going off and us getting a fit of the giggles…. Happy days and Edmund is one person from those days who remains clear in my memory. I got back in touch with Edmund in 2006 and we emailed each other and I could not believe it when I heard he had died suddenly. We will always love you Edmund.

  16. Jennifer Noakes

    Hi there,

    I stumbled across this when searching for Edmund on the net. I studied at John Moores from 05-08 and was a student of his, taking fantasy. He was a truly amazing man, a gentleman and above all, a friend, to everybody who was lucky enough to spend time with him. I honestly don’t know how I managed to get through my second year at Uni without him, but I did, somehow.

    He made me believe in myself and despite the fact I knew nothing at all about fantasy writing, he introduced that world to me and it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I remember bursting into tears one time infront of him after a rather harsh feedback session in the middle of a field in Wales and I just asked him ‘Am I mad? Is this normal?’ and he just smiled and said ‘We’re writers, we’ll never be normal. We’ll always be mad.’ And strangely enough, that was all the reassurance I needed.

    I miss him terribly and it’s wonderful to know he touched so many people’s lives. I don’t think any of us got enough time with him.

    I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this.

    Jen.

  17. Hi Jen
    Thanks for commenting. Lovely to hear from you.xx

  18. Hi, can I simply say that I am in shock today, 01/11/09. For some strange reason I started to think about Edmund. I went on the LJMU website looking for his email address and sadly discovered that he had died. As i type these words, 20 minutes after discovering the awful news, i am left with a profound sense of loss.

    I had lost touch with Edmund, i last seen him about 5 years ago. It was great to read how highly he was held by people who knew him.

    I met Edmund when i was working part time during my degree at the Hall of residence Edmund moved to upon taking up his employment at LJMU. We became good friends. After i left work at the Hall we would meet up occasionally at the Walker Art Gallery. He had some very perceptive comments on the obvious works he liked and appreciated, pre raphalites of course, but he was utterly dissmisive of the more abstract works.

    I could go on and would like to but I will finish for now by saying that I hope to attend the annual prize event in his hounour next year. See you all there.

  19. Michael
    Bless your heart. It was a real shock I agree.xxx

  20. I was one of Edmuns last students, it was heartbreaking to finish the course without him, but it warms me everytime I find something like this.
    It’s a pleasure to be reminded of howmuch Edmund meant to the world, how much he spoke to everyone even when there had bee no contact in months or years. I think that’s why Edmund wll continue to stay in our hearts and minds forever. He was simply one of those people you hope to meet just for one day in your life, and we’ve been blessed with so many days.

    Do you have copies of Ice Maidens and Between Fields and Stars? If not I’d be happy to try and find them for you. I’m not sure how widely available they are outside of Liverpool.

    May all the Gods and Goddesses bless you, and I’ll be looking out for that novel.
    I was a prose writer untill Edmund showed me how much joy there was in poetry.

  21. Hannah
    Thank you so much for getting in touch. And yes, I’d love the books. I ordered them from Amazon but they said they were unable to find them so I resigned myself to not having them.

    I will e-mail you to arrange delivery and how I can pay you.

    Bless you too. xxx

  22. Greetings, Katy:

    My name is Larry Arndt and I just came across your blog in my noodling the ‘net. For some reason I had the urge to search for one of the few names I recalled from my school days in the land of “Far, Far, Away”, or Cults Academy, in Aberdeen. I shared classes with Edmund back in the mid-’70s. My family is from Western Canada; Edmonton, Alberta to be exact. We were in Scotland from 1971-78, since my father was in the oil business. I returned to Canada in 1978 and have built a life mostly in Vancouver, but with family ties to Edmonton, still strong even with the Rocky Mountains in betweeen.

    I was at first saddened to read Edmund’s obituary as posted at academi.org, then delighted at his accomplishments in the fields of literature, education and adulthood…

    Reading your vivid and delightful description of your experiences in Edmund’s life is truly joyful. You have painted a warm and deeply moving, graphic portrait of a man I would never know in adulthood. Happily I can say I knew him when those most endearing personality traits you describe were coming to light in the awkward teen years (though aren’t we all at that age?); Edmund was, even at that young age, clumsy, gentle, soft-spoken, with a terrific sense of humour, all encapsulated with a striking intellect.

    I would like to thank you for the time and effort represented by your moving, loving tribute. It is truly a delight to read of Edmund’s rich life, though it was far too brief. I would havenjoyed knowing the man you knew.

    God bless you and all who knew him.

    Regards,

    Larry Arndt.

  23. Hello Larry
    It’s a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your memories with me also. I feel very privileged that you have commented. Kind regards.x

  24. sharon marshall

    I was a student of Edmund’s at LJMU until Dec 2006; the manner of his passing left us bereft but the manner of his arrival will be felt more deeply through the warmth of his generous heart. Such a spirit cannot be extinguished.

  25. Sharon
    True enough.xx

  26. Abigail Pickstock

    Looking back at my history so far; reflecting on all its pages, it becomes clear to me that this journey that I have embarked on has been guided by Edmund. His influence on my character becomes more obvious with each day.

    I have religiously kept a dream diary since the age of 14. I believe this to not simply be an account of my dreams, fears, memories and anxieties but also I consider the collection to be a rich symbolic dictionary of the language of my soul. Helping me to interpret this code was my spiritual teacher, who was also my step father, who apart from being a lecturer of creative writing was also an author, storyteller and Jungian poet.

    Each day we would leave my mother and step sisters then in mists of dawn begin our journey: first stop my school, second stop dean walters. It would be during these two hours of commuting a day that Edmund would teach me the world, stopping along the way to take photos of the natural beauty in which we were a part of.

    I moved away from home and the mountains of North Wales, to attend the Brit school for two years then enrolled on the Drama, Applied Theatre and Education course at Central three years ago. It was in my first term that my step father suddenly became very ill; he had terminal cancer and died only 1 month after diagnosis.

    I was entertaining my little sisters when the doctor delivered the news to my parents. Afterward, Edmund asked me to go on a walk with him down Hendwr. As we walked He told me that he had achieved all his dreams one of which was to have three daughters. We cried and Hugged a tree together (true Edmund style) which is now the place that i find most comfort when i need to feel close to him.

    I deferred my degree for the rest of that year, believing I needed to be at home to try to help my Mother and two small sisters through their bereavement: Having witnessed his death and trying to make some sense of it, I felt myself lost and spiritually stagnant. I was later to realise that my true spiritual awakening began with his death. The later recovery of my spiritual vision I owe to my studies. On returning to my course at Central I have managed to mould all my assignments to fit into my interest in Jungian studies and am now about to start an MA in Sesame Therapy. This type of therapy specialises in the Jungian approach using dream work, myth, movement, guided fantasy and storytelling as a form of therapy.
    I feel as though my life has been following a path, similar to a structured labyrinth, with each turn carefully equipping me in preparation for the next. Without Edmund I would have never come so far in life, emotionally, spiritually or academically.

    These days his memory sometimes blurrs in my mind to form a magical Merlin like character who came to help, create and teach my family and I. My mother and I often sit and ask, was he real? can such a pure heart exsit in this world? For I have never met anyone, and never think i will do, like Edmund.

    Each night before sleep I list everything that i am thankful to him for, and the list grows each day.

    If you need any books, please get in touch with me as my mother looks after the sales of them.

    All your words are kind and I will be sure to get my mother to read your stories and comments, although they are sure to bring tears.

  27. Abigail
    I am profoundly moved that you have found this post and taken the time to comment so fully. In fact, it has made me cry (in a good way). Thank you so much. Yes, I would love Edmund’s books and I will mail you about it privately.
    xxx

  28. Hi Katy
    came across your blog when looking up details on Edmund for a friend. We were undergraduates with Edmund on the English Lit degree at Aberdeen – a decade earlier. Like you, our correspondence was annual or so – but likewise, the news of his death had similar impact.
    Thank you so much for sharing your memories ( and all the following responses). It is lovely to think that Edmund started as he meant to go on – forgetting where he was mean to be, at odds with technology (I had to photocopy his Honours thesis for him!), but accepting people and life as if it was a unfolding story.
    Even then, Edmund told his tales – I have memories of dark candle lit evenings as we sat around imagining; one of these I recall so vividly (30 years on), I could still do a reasonable precis of the action if called upon.

    I too was delighted to hear he had found his family – I had always worried he was too much of a true romantic to settle but I knew he needed that grounding. I am sorry they had so little time together.

    Thanks again Katy et al

    Donna

    • Do you know Donna, this is the post I am most grateful and pleased to have written. It’s wonderful how people keep finding it and sharing. It is truly lovely. Thank you for sharing your memories too.xx

  29. christina cusick

    Dear Katy
    I want to tell you how much myself and our (Edmund’s) daughters have enjoyed reading your blog and subsequent posts. It is so heartwarming to read so many wonderful stories about him and to know how he touched so many hearts and minds. He was truely the most engaging, loving and spiritual man one could ever meet. He never really changed from your description of him at Lampeter; he carried on with Tai Chi, stayed addicted to cereal, chocolate and tree hugging but most importantly remained pure of heart.We miss him every day, not a day goes by without me having a conversation with him, telling him how the girls are doing, asking for his advice and thanking him for the few precious years we had together. It is a tradedy that his daughter’s will grow up without him but reading these posts gives them such an insight into how amazing he was and how much he was loved.
    Edmund’s books should be on Amazon as I am reponsible for their sales, if you have any trouble please let me know.

  30. Christina
    This truly is the post that keeps on giving. Thank you so much for your thoughts and taking the time to comment. It was an honour to know Edmund. I am very grateful to have had him as a friend, and thrilled that this post keeps connecting me to people who knew him and who are kind enough to share their thoughts and memories. I am so glad that you and your daughters have enjoyed it. I said it in an earlier comment but it absolutely is the post I am most grateful to have written. It has brought so much to me, and seems to have helped other people. I will be ordering Edmund’s books, and if there are any problems getting them I will definitely let you know.

    Thank you again. x

  31. sharon marshall

    I’ve just ordered a new copy of Ice Maidens as my old copy is worn beyond the word. Can’t believe 5 years have slipped by so quickly. Bless your heart Edmund, as a teacher myself now I tell my students that my best role model was a dreaming genius whose poetic words shine on as sparkling gems still lighting the way. I only wish they had the opportunity to hear those words from the lovely man who imagined them into life.

  32. Sharon
    Thank you for leaving such a wonderful comment.x

  33. sharon marshall

    BEESTINGS (For Edmumd Cusick)

    Sylvie died for somebody’s stings…But not mine…
    Hoarding secrets of the hive
    Geometrical genii
    Mathematical metonymy
    My stings my own… they belong to me, me

    Sex, drugs
    Lip service
    Possibilities
    Honey dealers
    Sugar stealers
    The box prised open
    Sticky Alchemy
    F**k the Clock
    Pandora watching…curiosity

    Lovers like this
    Bower of bliss
    Broken glass blisters
    ‘Braniac-amour’
    My stings my own…they belong to me

    Through splintered segments
    Of Galileo’s glass
    Plinth Plath poems plagiarised pulped
    Hexagons on heat
    Slither in serpentine semantics
    Slipping between meaning
    Such sweet syrup
    Suck it up
    Taste of honey in me

    Barthes and Bakhtin sittin’ in a tree
    Utter dialogic K I S S E S/Zee
    A hetroglossic shine
    Just words to me

    Authors don’t die; they meet again
    “In the hour when they were most themselves”
    Cusick’s immortal words call back du jour
    Iambic imitations indelibly inked
    As cool fingers coil around tattooed thorns
    Lunatics Lovers Poets…merge as one

    Sylvie died for somebody’s stings…But not mine…
    My stings my own
    They belong to me, me.

    (smm 2012)

  34. Thank you Sharon.x

  35. Thank you for making little corner of the internet to help us remember a good, kind man. I can’t claim to have really known Edmund, having met him only a handful of times when he came down to the University of Chichester in his role as our MA’s External Examiner. However, I remember sitting outdoors with him after a meeting and being enchanted by his enthusiasm for life. He was tired the last time I saw him, and maybe already ill — but no-one would have known it from the interest he continued to show in other people. Last night I found myself quoting advice from his lecture to our students on that occasion. He told us how much he hated inorganic fantasy writing that makes use of arbitrary names and words. Edmund’s way was to build fantasy from THIS world, so that an ice-world in another dimension should be constructed from the writer’s enagagement with the Innuits, and a knowledge of their culture, landscape, and language. That’s how I remember Edmund — as a man who grew his enthusiasm for fantasy out of THIS world. As the writer says so wisely at the top of the page, he was a man with a foot in both realms. He is sadly missed. Dave Swann, University of Chichester

  36. Hi Katy,

    So amazing to stumble across this, and so wonderful to know that Edmund was just simply the most wonderful man to everyone he met.
    I was a student in JMU from 2004 to 2006 studing Int. Journalism. I had always written poetry so I decided to take an elective in poetry, a class I adored, taught by Aileen La Tourette. Although the class were lovely I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider, an interloper into the wonderful, mystical world of creative writing, being from the lowly and Murdochesque journalism department! When an opportunity arose to go on a retreat to the rolling Welsh hills and cliffsides I jumped at the opportunity. And this as it turns out was the weekend when I would make my first life changing encounter with Edmund Cusick.
    After a day of workshops and sharing our work Edmund got to get a glimpse into my poetic soul. On the second day we gathered in a room and Edmund gave us a workshop using some of his mythical characters from his poems as subject matters. We had to write our own interpretation of the characters I dared to take an unexplored angle and exposed one of his characters as being not quite what she seemed. When I finished reading I looked up and Edmund was staring at me, with that amazing far away look in his eye that you described above.
    Then he said ‘ Ariana I am going to say something that I have never said to any other student before, you may not like it and so I apolgias in advance’
    The room went quiet, my fellow students held their breath, I felt the colour draining from my face, terrified that he was going to tell me I had no idea what I was talking about and how dare I deconstruct he character in this way..then he said
    ‘Ariana, you are doing the wrong course, you are not a journalist, you are a brilliant and gifted creative writer and you need to put your heart and soul into doing what come so naturally to you’. My heart skipped a beat.
    No other words have had such a profound effect on me, and I will carry those words to my grave, coming from him, and the manner in which he said it made me truly believe that I was poet. A wonderful gift.
    Three weeks after finishing Uni I moved to Australia, I missed my graduation and lost touch with a lot of my class mates.
    When someone mentioned to me that they had read a poem of mine in a book I was flumoxed, what, where, how I asked? Turns out, unbeknownst to me one of my poems was selected to be printed in the Poetry Pool 3 anthology. I was so delighted.
    I emailed Edmund to ask him if he knew anything about it. And what followed was one of the happiest email exchanges I have ever had. Edmund decided to pretend he was a 1950’s bronx style Private detective and I was a moll looking for some info on a missing poetry book.
    This went on for weeks and I have cherished this correspondance, until he was finally kind enough to send my copies of the book all the way out to Australia.
    I never heard from him after that, in that way that life drags you from people with its humdrum monotony.
    A few years later I was in work in a newspaper, being more creative than journalistic it must be said, when my manager said she had written a number of poems and would like to get them published. I suggested to contact the wonderful Edmund Cusick who would be the perfect person to look for feedback from. I told her all about him and how much I loved him and while I was jabbering away she was googling him. She looked up at me sadly and asked ‘ When this last time you spoke to him?’ ‘ Oh about two years ago I said’ She gently and devastatingly then told me ‘He’s dead’.
    I burst into tears. As though an uncle had just died.
    I went to Liverpool a few months later and went to the Dean Walters building and again cried my eyes out in one of his contemporaies offices.
    I think about him often and have cherished pictures of him and his children from a second Welsh retreat in a hobbit like village.
    I want Morgana to be read at my funeral.
    I want to be remembered in the hour in which I was most myself.

    • Oh my goodness !! I just found out today is Edmunds 6th anniversary ! I had no idea when I wrote my post above ! I was just thinking about him today completely randomly ! I can not believe the coincidence ! That is spooky… And yet somewhat reassuring !!

      • He moves in mysterious ways! Thank you so much for your wonderful memories. About every six months someone writes to me about Edmund and it keeps him alive that little bit longer. Thank you for being that person today. x

  37. A wonderful man who lives on in the hearts of the people whose hearts he touched.

  38. Just stumbled upon this blog and it has made what is a dull day in work a pleasant afternoon of remembering a previous life that seems like a dream some times.

    Edmund was a very rare person, in that he was about as free as any man can be in this modern world.

    Annual Edmund Cusick Avalon Poetry Competition Award Ceremony
    20/11/2013 19:00 @ Blackburne House, Blackburne Pl, Liverpool, Merseyside L8 7PE in the little cafe underneath.

  39. Sharon Marshall

    remembering Edmund.

  40. Hi, Katy. I am so pleased to find your blog remembering Edmund. I was thinking of him today on his birthday, missing him as always… did an internet search on a whim, which led me here. What a gift and balm for the soul to read all these lovely remembrances of Edmund. I laughed out loud when I read your description of E. offering you a hot drink, then having to search for his kettle, cups etc. — that is SO Edmund!
    I knew E. from his days in Oxford — he trained me for Nightline, that’s how we met — and since I live in the US I didn’t get to see him very often, though we did correspond regularly. I will always be grateful that I was able to visit him in Wales a couple of years before he died and meet his lovely wife Christina and their two sweet daughters. It was so fun to see him as a family man — I always knew he’d be a wonderful father.
    Someone mentioned there is a memorial website — I’d be grateful if someone posted a link.
    Take care.
    Margaret

  41. I read your blog first in 2008, it was one of those days Edmund kept popping into my head – just like you said. And today again, along with all the other comments it has inspired. I’m filling in a nomination form for an award my students have entered me for. My opening sentence brought me back to Edmund, and once again to your blog. For me my real journey began at JMU in 1997. Meeting this man, I was a mature student of 40, terrified and feeling stupid, after all everyone else there was going to be much more intelligent and know things I couldn’t possibly understand. For a while I didn’t use my degree at all. The world of sales swallowed me up and did nothing for me, but make me ill. Then at Edmund’s funeral I re met Ray (Bullock: comments above). Ray told me about the organization he had begun, and Edmund was also involved with. In fact he was just about to go along to a residential to teach a course on fantasy, but suddenly he’d got ill.
    The funeral was huge, with coaches literally bringing students and graduates together from all over the country in shocked grief.
    The last time I’d seen Edmund was at a residential at Clynnog fawr, in 2006, where Edmund had invited Gerri (a friend who had gone back to Uni to finish her degree), and me to mentor first year students. I walked in and Edmund hugged me and said, “Welcome home Tina, to your real family.” Meaning the world of writers and so much more. Us. By then he’d married the very lovely Christina, and Storm/Imogen was about three and Amber just a toddler. That evening Gerri and me cooked a Christmas dinner for over 40 Of us, all the ovens in the cottages and the main house, roasting chickens and all the trimmings. Then we all played Jenga, the winning team’s tower reaching 31 levels and of course winning a tub of Roses chocolates. It was good to be back. And so began the journey back. I was signed off work for over 18 months. Ray mentored me and my teaching career began. Which brings me to today, nearly 8 years later, where I find myself once again realizing that without the dreamer that was Edmund, the Interstellar, who cared about our academics, but cared more deeply about our pastoral and spiritual needs; taught us to hug trees, shared books like The Knight in Rusty Armour, set up for us a degree course that enabled me to go forward and so to pass some of him froward. Forever grateful.

  42. This is such a wonderful Edmund-remembering space. It is National Poetry Day in Ireland today and I’m circulating Edmund’s poem, Morgana to my writer friends, of whom, briefly, once, Edmund was one. Heaven, he imagined in Morgana, might be those moments when we were most ourselves. That’s a life lived, to have realized that, and to have been able to pass that wisdom around. Salutes to you Edmund, wherever you are now.

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