We thought the honour [or burden] of being first out of the blocks should go to Adele Robinson, whose idea the whole creative writing project was in the first instance.
Before that, however, we're delighted to announce another chance to hear Walking on Wyre:
Readings from the Walking on Wyre publication will feature as part of Blackpool Council's WORDPOOL event to celebrate National Poetry Day on Thursday 2nd October.
Writers who contributed to the Walking on Wyre project will be reading a selection of poetry and prose from the publication at Blackpool Central Library between 1:30pm and 2:30pm.
If you couldn't get to the original launch reading at Garstang Arts Festival, come and listen to the recital in Blackpool on Thursday - upstairs in the Brunswick Room at Central Library. Refreshments will be served and copies of the publication will be on sale. We hope to see you there.
Adele Robinson writes:
Walking on Wyre has been a very interesting and challenging journey for me. I love to walk, but as an ex-professional ballroom dancer and teacher, diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition in 1995, I have tended to shy away from joining a walking group. My pain is affected by wet weather, the cold, draughts, stress and sometimes just by lack of sleep.
Walking on Wyre began as the seed of an idea that poetry is bound up with landscape and community spaces. On their journeys around Europe, the Romantics would write poetry about the wonderful landscapes they saw. In a recent TV series an art historian and a chef were travelling in Italy, tasting and cooking local recipes, visiting galleries and museums. In one episode, they sat overlooking the cliffs at Livorno eating local food and reading aloud: a poem by Shelley, written at that exact spot. Suddenly there was the idea for Walking on Wyre: let’s take people from the community on short walks along the Wyre Way, a public footpath that covers the whole of Wyre borough, let’s include some creative writing workshops with local poets to stimulate creative ideas, then see what they produce. And WOW!!! As you will have read in all the submissions to the blog this summer, they came, they walked, they created.
Arts Council England provided the funding for the project and the fantastic team at LeftCoast gave us the platform and support to manage, from workshop timetabling to final publication and performance. For me it was a dream realised – a tangible map of my home borough in poetry and prose, written by members of the community. What has been happening since our publication launch at Garstang Arts Festival has exceeded expectations. Alison Boden and Mike Tattersall who work for Wyre Council and run the Wyre Health Walks asked to buy copies of the publication, not only for sale at Wyre Information Points but so that their team of volunteer Health Walk Leaders d could read the poems to people who join the walks.
So as you see … if you believe in dreams and if you really work hard to make them happen, they can come true.
I attended all six workshops, wrote seven pieces and have thinking material for dozens more. My co-project manager, Steve Rowland, tutored the final workshop in the picture postcard village of Scorton. It poured “sweet Summer rain” most of that June day. We walked along watching the sand martins nipping in and out of burrows along the riverbank while bulls paddled in the water. I was reminded of a Constable painting, especially on the return walk with the church spire, blossoming trees and Bowland Fells as a dynamic backdrop. Steve drew my attention to the pock-marked mud, made by hoofs, filled with pink-stained rainwater. Suddenly I was a bird, flying over cattle on a wagon, heading for market and the inevitable slaughterhouse. Other connotations developed from there and the poem that came out of the workshop is deeply reflective. For me it is a warning to live in the moment, to really stop and enjoy the world that you see in front of you. For, like the “beef-boys”, enjoying their carefree days in the lush green pastures, the future is unpredictable. On the 75th Anniversary of World War II, I am reminded of the plight of six million Jewish Nazi victims, loaded onto cattle trucks and taken to slaughter. I hear dark echoes that disturb me now …
Black Angus heifers paddling in the Wyre,
St Peter’s spire and Nicky Nook
brush stroke a pastoral scene.
A landscape from the past,
lacking only country folk and horse-drawn wain.
Ripples circle outwards from hoofs in the
shallow ford between two luscious,
green- mile fields.
They lap contented at the tea-stained water
as it slugs along the Martin-pitted slopes.
Nesting birds dash in and out,
bank left, then right,
fly-catching on the wing,
sky ballerinas in sweet Summer rain.
Today they will not sing their freedom in the sky;
will not mock the beef- boys happy with their lot.
They see the pock-marked soil,
over-flowing with rose-tinted rain
and offer only birdsong in their wake.
Adele V Robinson