Poet, singer/songwriter, keyboard/accordion player, actor, humourist and facilitator Heather Wastie grew up in the Black Country; in 2006 she moved to Kidderminster where she ran spoken word and music night, Mouth and Music for 4 years. She was The Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16.
Heather is well known for her interpretations of oral history. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns. In 2017 she was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to compose a children’s song cycle, Loom in the Loft, to celebrate the restoration of the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster.
She has strong links with the history of canals. In summer 2016 she began touring a double bill of theatre, poetry and song, Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways, with writer and actor Kate Saffin (Alarum Theatre). In 2017 the company was awarded Arts Council funding to support a 15 week 50 show tour between April and August. The show will continue touring into 2018. She is currently working on a commission for The Ring project in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide.
Heather has published 4 illustrated poetry collections and has compiled and edited 2 books of Black Country reminiscences. She has recently completed commissions for the Canal & River Trust, Black Country Echoes, Birmingham LGBT choir Rainbow Voices, West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, Apples and Snakes, Rights and Equality Sandwell’s “Where’s Our Spake Gone?” project and BBC local radio (a national project for National Poetry Day 2016). In 2016 she composed a series of songs for an English Touring Opera Turtle Song project in Wolverhampton with people who have dementia.
Other collaborations include Brewers’ Troupe performance poetry company with poet Emma Purshouse and spoken word / squeeze box duo Jiggery Spokery with Dave Reeves (who bellows). Heather has also worked as a poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire.
For further information see http://www.WastiesSpace.co.uk.
Kidderminster was founded on the carpet industry. A very high proportion of people living in the town have connections with it, whether directly or through family members. There is a huge sense of pride associated with it and a great deal of active interest in local history. This project aimed to harness this, encouraging people to write about their own experiences as well as keeping alive people’s stories through songs, poetry and prose.
Heather began researching and writing about this subject in summer 2012, with funding from the Kidderminster Educational Foundation and Wyre Forest District Council. She interviewed retired carpet factory employees in several locations. Weaving Yarns was published in October 2015 and is available from Black Pear Press. Heather now offers performances of the work.
In October 2012, a new Museum of Carpet opened its doors in Kidderminster. In 2013 Heather was Writer In Residence, thanks to Arts Council Lottery funding and a grant from Worcestershire Arts Partnership.
Grateful thanks also to the following for their help with Weaving Yarns: Loz Samuels, Jean Talbot, Paula Kovacs, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Davidson, Gemma Dhami, Melvyn Thompson