Weaving Yarns book launched!

This post is all about the fact that Weaving Yarns, poems, songs and real life stories from the carpet industry, is now available to buy! Here is a link for online purchases from Black Pear Press who have been excellent to work with and have produced a first class item which I’m proud to hold in my hand, read from and generally wave in the air at people. http://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/heather-wastie/  You can also buy copies in the Museum of Carpet shop and from me of course!

Weaving Yarns front cover  12237954_873135339460734_9065783628317440527_o(1)

(More photos, taken by Tony Judge from Black Pear Press, appear below.)

I am indebted to the following performers who helped me put together an evening’s entertainment of poetry and music, performing their own work as well as mine: Sarah Tamar, Kathy Gee, Mike Alma, Polly Robinson and Kate Wragg. Many thanks to you all for your wonderful work.

I will let the comments of others describe the evening and the book.

It was a wonderful night, good luck with book sales so pleased with my copy terrific poetry and great photos.
Elizabeth Gelhard

Congratulations on your book launch. I thought it was a great evening and the book is something to be really proud of – you’ve connected with many people on many levels and I’m sure they will treasure this.
Caroline Jester

Well done to Heather and fabulous supporting cast. A very enjoyable evening, look forward to reading the book.
Ian Passey

Thank you for a lovely walk down memory lane! Well done Heather Wastie and all involved this evening it’s been lovely.

Thank you Heather Wastie and everyone who took part tonight it was a very enjoyable evening of poems songs and memories.

Smashing night
Maggie Doyle

Really fantastic
Melanie Biggs

Thank you all for a fabulous evening.
Nicky Griffiths

Thanks Heather, that was a lovely evening.
Mike Alma

Great night!
Sarah Tamar

What a splendid evening it was–a joy to be part of it
Polly Robinson

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Wild Man Dances

On 27th October I travelled into Birmingham for a lunchtime concert of music for 2 pianos performed by Andrew West and Ronald Woodley at the Adrian Boult Hall. My reason for going was because my good friend Liz Johnson, a composer based in Malvern, invited me to hear the premiere of her piece Wild Man Dances. Liz was delighted to see me and said that of course I would be writing a poem about it, wouldn’t I? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but I listened intently to her exciting piece, watched the performers and took in the spectacle of two shiny black grand pianos wrapped around each other so that the pianists faced each other, each with the silent accompaniment of a page-turner ….

I love the piano. It’s a wonderful instrument to play and to listen to. My third collection of poetry, The Page-Turner’s Dilemma, has a cartoon of a grand piano on the cover with a sweating page-turner suspended mid air, hovering over the head of the pianist. The title poem is written from the point of view of the page-turner worrying about all the things that can go wrong and is based on personal experience as pianist, page-turner and concert-goer. You can see the cover and an extract from that poem on my website www.wastiesspace.co.uk

But I digress. My Wild Man Dances poem does not feature page-turners. On the train on the way home, I began by jotting down words and images suggested by what I had seen and heard. The poem I ended up writing is nothing like anything I would have written without the stimulus of Liz’s brilliant piece which will be up on YouTube at some stage so I’m looking forward to hearing it again, though you really can’t beat a live performance. Liz has posted my poem on her website with a link to my site. I have also posted it below. Do go to Liz’s site and listen to some of her other pieces http://www.lizjohnson.co.uk. And I recommend writing using other artforms to inspire different ways of writing.

Wild man dances
for Liz Johnson

Cell walls sweat,
drip mercury,
muscles twitch,
throb against blood

a flash mob of corpuscles
hammers on lungs,
polished black boots
stamp on the heart

tendons and ligaments
stretch like chains,
nerve endings clench
a furious flamenco

strictly self-contained,
rib cage rattling,
inside each measured man
a wild one dances

© Heather Wastie
October 2015

Rugby … or Poetry?

As we near the climax of the Rugby World Cup, I have at last found time to blog about Poets in Touch, a performance I organised in the fanzone in the town of Rugby on September 29th. Having performed in Rugby a few times in the past, I was delighted to be asked to do this and the evening couldn’t have gone any better than it did.

Poets in Touch flyer

Joining me on stage were: Tony Walsh, aka Longfella, who has been called “one of the UK’s most renowned performance poets”, poet, performer, squeezebox and harmonica player, Dave Reeves, and 7 members of local group Rugby Writers. In order to inspire the local writers (and me!) to write about their town, we went on a town tour together. I had already visited the Webb Ellis Museum and also, as I have a strong interest in writing about canals, the nearby Hillmorton Locks on the Oxford Canal.

Inside the Webb Ellis Museum

Inside the Webb Ellis Museum

One of the Hillmorton flight of locks with Canalchef Cafe in distance

One of the Hillmorton flight of locks with Canalchef Cafe in distance

Canalchef Cafe with Lesley & Ian Lauder

Canalchef Cafe owners Lesley & Ian Lauder

Lesley Lauder in the Canalchef Cafe was exceedingly helpful when I quizzed her about the history of the locks. The cafe is a mini-museum! I went away and wrote a poem/song which combined historical facts about the locks with some of the stories about local canal people.

Before I was invited to stage the Poets in Touch event, I knew very little about the sport of rugby, but I did some research and wrote 3 new pieces, one about Richard Lindon who made rugby balls, one about Jonny Wilkinson and the one copied below. I watched a lot of rugby on TV, quizzed my husband, who used to teach PE at Lawrence Sheriff School, listened to rugby commentators on the radio and even discussed it in our local pub! (I can hardly believe that myself!) It occurred to me that there were similarities between a rugby match and performances which involve a collection of poets ….. so I wrote the poem below by way of introduction to the evening. I would like to credit Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (can you spot the quote?), world cup commentators and Tony Murphy in the pub who are all quoted here:

Rugby … or Poetry?

The match is about to begin

A TV camera pans across the line of players
rising and dipping as it goes

Whatever size or shape you are
there’s a place on the park

It’s all about territory,
and the secret of all victory lies
in the organisation of the non obvious

Bulldozers, bullocks
or lithe and tall,
from lean and lanky
to small and speedy

whatever size or shape you are
there’s a place on the park

Ding dong, head bang,
maul, ruck, scrummage, slam
kept on the pitch

From minnows
to headline makers

whatever size or shape you are
there’s a place on the park

and everyone listens
to the short guy with a whistle
and obeys.

© Heather Wastie
September 2015

Well the local writers really delivered the goods! Tony, Dave and I each presented our own distinctive style of writing and performance, and we had a sizeable audience too. A couple of weeks after the event, I received a poem from Andrew Cowan, another local writer, who was in the audience. His ‘edited highlights’ sum up the evening nicely!

Poets in Touch

Gargoyle like
he gushes out Jabberwock
bellow pumping
via leathern cheeks
via lolling tongue
via writhing lips
the beast is born

Simon Grenville performing Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Simon Grenville performing Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

In blue dungarees
lock handcrank, headscarf
the retro vision of
idle canal womanhood
and the spirit of
nineteen forty

Heather Wastie performing Idle Women and Judies

Heather Wastie performing Idle Women and Judies

The reverend vicar
reflects on
a youthful sin
transformed through time
to sire a worldwide game

Nick Marsh, also known as The Reverend William Webb Ellis performing "I Tripped Over Toby and ran with the ball"

Nick Marsh, alias The Reverend William Webb Ellis performing “I Tripped Over Toby and ran with the ball”

Tony the Longfella
bawdies us through
office lech party time
and long term uxorious touch
to the deep meaning
of Christmas night

Tony Walsh

Tony Walsh

Brought to stage
those instruments, that music
the costumes
best of all
each matched to their microphone

Andrew Cowan
30th September 2015

Dave Reeves performing his piece about ghostly Rugby

Dave Reeves performing his piece about ghostly Rugby

They’re fiddling with the clocks again

I’ll keep posting and sharing this poem till they stop!

Mean time

It is the custom of this land
to fiddle with the hour hand,
to move it back, which makes us curse,
to move it forth, and that’s much worse!

It puts us at sixes and sevenses
and unsettles all our elevenses.

I’ve got a message for the Queen:
Such indecisiveness is mean,
we like our ticks, we love our tocks,
we want protection for our clocks!

You’d hear lots of clapping and cheering,
if Time Lords would stop interfering!

© Heather Wastie

Weaving Yarns book launch, Wednesday 11th November

Weaving Yarns is a unique infectious cocktail of assorted snippets and stories about the carpet industry and the folk who helped to make Kidderminster the carpet town.”
(Melvyn Thompson, Historian to the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster).

Black Pear Press is delighted to announce the launch of Weaving Yarns, a new collection of poetry, songs and stories from Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie (Published by Black Pear Press, ISBN: 978-1-910322-18-5). Heather was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet in 2013 and has interviewed many retired carpet factory employees whose stories are told in this book.

The collection traces the impact of the carpet trade on Kidderminster and its people:

In the carpet capital of the world,
Brian is studying the Stour,
today’s mix of colours
from a multitude of dyes.

(From ‘Tell-tale Colours’)

And draws parallels with the carpet industry in other parts of the world:

There’s a line
from Turkey to Kidderminster
girl after girl after girl

tucking tiny fingers
between the warp threads
posed and squashed on solid planks

(From ‘Knotting Frames’)

Enjoy readings and music from Heather and friends, as she celebrates the publication of her book inspired by the rich history of Kidderminster’s carpet industry.

You are invited to join us at the Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green St, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ, 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start on Wednesday 11th November. The event is free to enter and should finish around 9pm.

“What could be better than this collection of poems for the expression of the emotions of townspeople who have witnessed the decay of their staple industry?”  (Nigel Gilbert, Writer and Historian)

The photographs and illustrations in Weaving Yarns are drawn from the extensive archive at the Museum of Carpet, and used with the generous permission of the Museum.

Further information is available from Black Pear Press: tony@blackpear.net
01299 253258

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