Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Poetry Set in Stone

I'm very excited to have had a sneak preview of a brilliant stone sculpture and mosaic made by the artist Andrew Tebbs for a new installation at Newton, near Tibshelf. This public artwork was made by Andrew after consultation with local residents and he passed some of their thoughts and memories about the Newton area on to me so that I could turn them into a short poem.

The finished poem, 'Who Goes There?' has now been carved into the sculpture - the first time I've had any of my writing set in stone!

Andrew mentioned to me that many people had spoken to him about nearby Tibshelf services and the fact that so many famous people have stopped there over the years. I wondered what would happen if a local lad from the distant past - the cotton spinner Jedediah Strutt - decided to pop by for a visit. My short poem was inspired by a strange convergence of cotton mills and service stations, Derbyshire past meeting Derbyshire present.

Who goes there?

Who goes there, who goes there?
Jedediah Strutt with loom-spun hair,
stepping clean out of the air,
cotton-spinning, slow with care.

Who goes there, who goes there?
Fix the present in your stare.
we’re all Jedediah’s heirs,
weaving stories: homemade, rare.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wordsworth's Landscapes

As a writer who responds to Derbyshire landscapes so often in my work, I was thrilled to be invited to make a film discussing Wordsworth's poem The Prelude. The short documentary looks at the 'stealing a boat' section of Wordsworth's poem and we filmed it on location in Ullswater in December. As you'll probably be able to tell, it was a little bit chilly.

You can watch the footage here, hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Travels down the Staveley Corridor

As someone who grew up in Calow, North East Derbyshire and lived there until relatively recently, I've always had reasons to go to Staveley - to visit the gym, visit the inn (!) or walk my dogs down the canal path. And on my journeys, I've often passed the beautiful brick of Staveley Library and thought it looked like an inviting place to stop for a while. Yesterday, I finally got chance to take it in as part of Staveley Wellbeing Day.

It was a real treat working with people from Staveley, Mastin Moor and beyond who use the Home Libraries Service. Inspired by the bookcases around us, we talked about the different 'chapters' of Staveley history, from pit ponies to hardware shops and turned these memories into a group poem.

Afterwards, everyone got chance to talk to playwright Kevin Fagan about a new community play he is writing for performance at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. Kevin has called the area he's writing about the 'Staveley Corridor' and I thought that was a really neat phrase. If you're from that area and would be interested in being interviewed by Kevin, do get in touch. 

Thanks to all at Staveley for a great day.

The Book of Memories
A poem for Staveley Wellbeing Day

The first page is steel works, noise and smoke,
the sheds at Barrow Hill, solid as oak.
There’s a chapter of families, moving for jobs,
feeding the pit ponies, keeping them shod.
Shire horses paraded proud at the shows –
one met the Queen! – they stood tall in rows.

The story moves on, fast as open top cars,
the first on the road, fast-forwarding hours.
(Here’s a footnote for the Regal, the Staveley Pictures,
the dance hall in Chesterfield – twirling at Jimmy’s,
the stationers and Sonky Sales
where they traded in hardware, hammers and nails
and anything they didn’t have they’d find.
There were shoe shops and milliners, neat in line.)

There’s a new chapter now, the streets are fresher
and we chatter round books in the library at leisure.
There are more names to learn and we lock our doors
but we’ve shared the same story, through labour and wars.
We’ve written a book you can’t judge by its cover
and when this chapter finishes, we’ll start another.

By Mary Davison, Jean Hamson, Mary White, Dave Walker, Beryl Liavsley, Margaret Pattison, David Wheatley, Jean Pendleton, Margaret Webster, Beryl Adams, Olive Owen, with a bit of help from Derbyshire Poet Laureate Helen Mort.