Kidderminster Shuttle & the Weaver Poet

In the midst of preparing for a private performance of Kidderminster Stuff next week (for the Museum of Carpet Friends), I have just seen an item in the Kidderminster Shuttle about some new audio dramas which will shortly be available to listen to at the Museum. The project to create these ran in parallel with my residency and I’m very much looking forward to hearing them. Here’s a link to the newspaper article

In the nineteenth century, there was a poet called Noah Cooke living in Kidderminster. Born in 1831 in very poor circumstances, he became a draw-boy in a carpet factory at the age of nine and eventually became a weaver. He was known as the Weaver Poet and wrote many a broadside ballad. His poem A “Quill” for The Shuttle was written for the first issue of the Kidderminster Shuttle, February 12th 1870.

Here are the first and last stanzas:

Clear the way ye sons of labour
Toiling at the busy loom!
Make a passage for the Shuttle,
Let it have sufficient room ….

…. Wisdom, like a well-fill’d shuttle,
Nicely wrought in every part,
Leaves behind as it progresses
Works of usefulness and art.

In our show, I perform the poem and Kate sings a song she wrote in response to it, juxtaposing the past with the present.

Voices in a Forest of Carpet

Photo of carpet forest

The memory of the beautifully atmospheric carpet forest lives on in my mind (see my post on August 8th). I have just uploaded onto Soundcloud the audio I created for the installation which so many people have said they enjoyed listening to via headphones embedded in the trees. Now you can listen to it whenever you like, although the trees are gone and the factories referred to only exist in memories. Here is the link

Are you ‘Inspired by My Museum’?

Museum of Carpet

Inspired logoDoes the Museum of Carpet inspire you?

An encounter with a museum can be a life-changing experience, a realisation of the past or an inspiration for the future.

Inspired by My Museum is a creative writing competition launched through a partnership between Sampad and the British Council, supported by Museums Association.

If you have a poem, short story or reportage inspired by a museum you have visited, your words could be selected for publication. It could be the space, architecture, design, an object in the museum or even the curator who has inspired you.

Any writer from anywhere in the world, aged between the ages of 16 and 35, can take part. Entries can be up to 400 words. One entry is allowed per person. Last date for entries is Monday 10th February 2014.
For info, visit the Sampad website to find out more.

BC_Sampad logo

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I have wanted to write about this for ages and have finally got round to it. Val and Jane told me about this particular aspect of working on a loom and I have combined what they told me into one poem.

for Val & Jane

They were big knives,
as wide as my outstretched arms.
They had to be sharp
to cut through the wool
and when they cut,
fluff would settle on the blades.
As they were parting,

you cupped your hand
to sweep off the floats,
cut and sweep, sweep to the right,
cut and sweep, sweep to the left.

I was taught by a lady,
been on it for years.
I stood and watched
till it was my turn.
At first I was shaking
but she said relax,
do it quickly, don’t dab,
wipe, don’t dab,
cut and sweep, sweep to the right,
cut and sweep, sweep to the left.

Can do it with my eyes closed.

© Heather Wastie
October 2013