Songs and poems for historic cottages

Having written a song cycle for the historic Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster, I’m keen for these unique houses to be owned by people who care about the heritage as much as I do. 

The three separate properties will be sold by auction on 12th September – click here for details. The one on the right, No 22, is a rare example of a cottage specifically built to house a weaver. The top floor is light and spacious, designed as a work space which contained the loom. We know that the middle property was once a sweet shop because of the sign which is faintly visible above the ground floor window. 

Not many people can say that a song cycle has been written about their home! Here’s a link to recordings of the songs, together with poems and stories written by 4 other writers after a workshop I ran as part of a series of activities organised by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust. 

There’s a poem version of one of my songs which you can hear in this interactive film by James McDonald. You can move around inside the cottages using your computer mouse. The film is one of several made by James which I find quite addictive. 

The songs will be available soon as a resource for young people, linking them to their own local history. There will be an online publication with the song lyrics, poems and stories, and the songs will be on a CD. This was a hugely rewarding project to be involved in, with a truly lasting legacy. 

Final push for The Idle Women

If you would like to see the show I have been touring with Kate Saffin since the end of April, there are just 3 more opportunities – two at The Rising Sun, Berkhamsted (Monday & Tuesday) and one at The Pirate Castle, Camden (Saturday) – the last time we will perform the show in London. This will also be the last chance to see historic narrow boat Tench which has been with us all the way. After the tour, owner Alex will whisk her away and get back to her own solo adventures!

We have had very appreciative audiences, rave reviews and have been featured in national press so we’re delighted, if a trifle tired as we have done quite a few lock miles over the past 15 weeks too! Do come and support us at one of our final shows if you can.

Here’s one of my ‘found’ poems from the show which is also in the book we have produced to accompany the tour:

A horse on the path

Early in the morning
a horse on the path

the ring of shoes on cobblestones
the swish of a bow, a shout

the whip of a line, the soft flap
as it drops on the cabin top

another whip, another shout
lock gate thud, rattle of paddle

through cabin doors nudged ajar
we stir to grey outlines
on a slack-black star-stippled sky

© Heather Wastie

using words found in The Amateur Boatwomen Canal Boating 1941-1945 by Eily Gayford

Saturday’s performance will be our 50th since we launched the tour in April and the journey has been incredible. See www.alarumtheatre.co.uk and our Facebook page for more.

Once the tour is over I will be taking a well earned break!

#idlewomen autumn tour news!

I’m delighted to announce that ABNB Boat Brokerage will be supporting Alarum Theatre’s Autumn tour of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways! http://www.abnb.co.uk/

September 16 Tour flyer.inddSeptember 16 Tour flyer.indd

Wednesday 7th Sept – 7.30pm • Garden of Camp House Inn, Grimley, WR2 6LX, 01905 640288 – In association with The Worcestershire Literary Festival & Fringe

Saturday 10th Sept – 7.30pm • The Windlass Cafe and Restaurant, Stourport, DY13 9EN, 01299 871742 – In association with Stourport Heritage Open Days, Stourport Canal Basin

Thursday 15th Sept – 7.30pm • The Folly Inn, Napton on the Hill, CV47 8NZ, 01926 815185

Friday 23rd Sept – 7.30pm • The Wildside Activity Centre, Wolverhampton, WV6 0HA, 01902 572240

Sunday 25th Sept – 1.30pm • Wolverhampton Boat Club, Codsall, Wolverhampton, WV8 1RS, 07977 101411

Friday 30th Sept – 7.30pm • Theatre in the Dock, Tooley’s Boatyard, Banbury, OX16 2PQ, 01295 272917

* Saturday 1st Oct – 2.30pm • Theatre in the Dock matinee, Tooley’s Boatyard, Banbury, OX16 2PQ, 01295 272 917
– Includes a wartime tea!

* Mon 28th & Tues 29th Nov – 7.30pm • The Rosemary Branch Theatre, Hoxton, N1 3DT, 020 7704 6665

* indicates a ticketed event (see www.alarumtheatre.co.uk for details) otherwise free entry with donations to support the artists

 

Photos from our Summer Tour:

IMG_0107-1IMG_0228IMG_0213IMG_0240

Didn't they have a lovely time at The Bonded Warehouse 29 June 2016

Free poetry workshops & open mic opportunities

Here are details of 2 poetry workshops I’m running, in Bewdley and Kidderminster, and 2 performances with open mic opportunities, in Bewdley and Ledbury.

FREE POETRY WORKSHOPS

Thursday 16th June 10.30-12.30
Poetry Workshop – Women of WW1
St George’s Hall, Load Street, Bewdley DY12 2EQ
To mark 100 years since the formation of the Women’s Institute, this workshop is part of an outreach project to create poems for a new art installation at Croome Court from November. Of the poems written by members of 16 different and diverse groups across Worcestershire, 100 will be chosen to be included in the installation, and poets are asked, if possible, to write about the experiences of a female relative.
Free to attend but advance booking required.
See https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Wednesday 6th July 10.30-12.30 or 1.00-3.00
A Taste of Words poetry workshop
Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster
The workshops are suitable for all abilities and will draw inspiration from Kidderminster’s wonderful heritage, including current research from the Weavers Cottages project. At the end of the sessions, participants will be encouraged to work on a piece for inclusion in the final Weavers Cottages open day and celebration events later in the year.
See http://www.weaverscottages.info/Events.htm

POETRY OPEN MIC

Saturday 18th June 1.00-7.00
Hopfest Music Festival
‘Airlock’ family poetry/storytelling tent including poetry open mic
Hopley’s Family Camping, Cleobury Road, Bewdley, Worcs DY12 2QL

http://www.hopfest.co.uk
Email poetry@hopfest.co.uk for details of open mic

Saturday 2nd July
Outdoor performances with Jiggery Spokery at Ledbury Poetry Festival
11.15-1.00 Walled Garden including open mic – sign up on day or email Spokery15@mail.com
Afternoon performances (no open mic): 2.30 Caffe No.21; 3.30 The Muse Cafe; 4.30 The Horseshoe Inn

http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk

 

Worcestershire LitFest & more

This coming Friday, 10th June, sees the start of Worcestershire LitFest. As the outgoing Worcestershire Poet Laureate (yes, the year is up!) I’ve agreed to do 3 performances and a workshop, details of which are summarised in this Worcester News article and appear more fully below. In the same week, I have 3 performances elsewhere so it’s going to be busy!!

Saturday 11th June between 12.00 & 4.00
Jiggery Spokery at Cheltenham Science Festival
Jiggery Spokery Worcs Mus Fest
Street entertainment – details to be announced
See https://twitter.com/heatherwastie for updates

http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science

Tuesday 14th June 7.30pm
City Voices – 15 minute feature, Weaving Yarns poems & songs
Lych Gate Tavern, 44 Queen Square, Wolverhampton, WV1 1TX
Admission £2.50 (£1 under 16s)
Contact: simonfletcher58@gmail.com

Wednesday 15th June 7.30pm (doors open 6.00)
Weaving Yarns
Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ
Admission £5 including Museum entry

http://museumofcarpet.org
https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Thursday 16th June  7.30pm
Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways
The Camp House, Camp Lane, Grimley, Worcs WR2 6LX
https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/
See #idlewomen Midlands tour for more dates

Thursday 16th June 10.30-12.30
Poetry Workshop – Women of WW1
Severn Room, St George’s Hall, Load Street, Bewdley DY12 2EQ
Free to attend but advance booking required

https://worcslitfest.co.uk/programme-tickets-2016/

Saturday 18th June 1.00-7.00
Hopfest Music Festival
‘Airlock’ family poetry/storytelling tent including poetry open mic
Hopley’s Family Camping, Cleobury Road, Bewdley, Worcs DY12 2QL

http://www.hopfest.co.uk
Email poetry@hopfest.co.uk for details of open mic

Performances coming up

If you’d like to find out about some of the work I’ve been doing as Worcestershire Poet Laureate since I was appointed last June, go to http://worcslitfest.co.uk/worcestershire-poet-laureate/heathers-wpl-blog-january-2016/

To find out what I’ve got coming up, read on ….

A week on Saturday I’ll be at the National Waterways Museum performing Idle Women and Judies and some new poems, all of which tell the stories of women who worked on the canals during World War 2.

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In March I’ll be featured poet at Howl in Moseley with a 15 minute set of performance poetry and in July I’ll be presenting an hour-long family show of poetry and music based around my book The Page-Turner’s Dilemma (poetry & tales from behind the music stand) in Evesham.

TPTD cover cartoon by Jules

Cartoon by Jules ~ cartoonist

Right now I’m working on a project about Black Country dialect. It’s called Where’s Our Spake Gone and I’ve been commissioned to work in Cradley Heath which is where I grew up. I’m having a wonderful time collecting together dialect words and phrases so that I can write new pieces to be shared at an event in April. I’ve you’d like to get involved, do come to my drop-in session on Thursday February 11th (see poster below).

Details of all these events are below.

Saturday 13th February between 10.00 and 4.00
Idle Women and Judies
National Waterways Museum Reopening Weekend
South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FW

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/museums-and-attractions/national-waterways-museum

Wednesday 9th March 7.30pm
Featured Poet – Howl
The Dark Horse, 145 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP
Free entry

https://www.facebook.com/howlspokenword/
http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk

Where's our spake gone drop-in

Wednesday 6th April 7.30pm
Where’s our spake gone?
Cradley Heath Library, Upper High Street, Cradley Heath B64 5JU
http://ourspake.co.uk

Sunday 3rd July 3.00-4.00pm
The Page-Turner’s Dilemma
Evesham Festival of Words
Unitarian Chapel, Oat Street, Evesham, Worcs WR11 4PJ

http://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/programme/

 

 

Temperance Meeting, Gin Lane

I was booked by the inventive Kate Cox, Clik Clik Collective Producer, to be part of an installation and walkabout in Worcester city centre at the end of November. A striking feature in Worcester Victorian Fair, the installation celebrated the darker side of Victorian Britain in an alleyway with debauched inhabitants, cast out of society due to their unsavoury behaviour! My response to the brief was to hold a mock temperance meeting with this motto:Temperance handout

I researched temperance songs and speeches and put together an interactive programme lasting about an hour and enjoyed seeing how people reacted. Several people entered the spirit of it (haha) and joined in with the singing and play acting. One bloke pretended (well I think he was pretending!) to have a go at nicking my gin bottle which I assured everyone had been filled with water: “I have poured away the vile liquid this bottle once contained and replaced it with cool, clear water!” For, as the song goes:

There’s nothing so good for the youthful blood,
Or sweet as the sparkling water.

I invited people to sign the pledge and lots of people did, though ironically the pledge got soaked on the second day when there was a heavy rain shower. I had mixed feelings about the fact that an 8 year old signed after I showed her family the authentic signature of a 7 year old:

The Pledge comments list

It was very rewarding putting this show together and I’d love to do it again, so I’m looking out for opportunities. Do contact me if you’re interested or have any suggestions for venues or organisations that may be up for it. I’m working on a version which doesn’t need piano, though it would be great to have one.

Working for Clik Clik Collective gives me the opportunity to come up with new ideas and try them out. Producer Kate Cox is pictured below. I love what she does; there’s a feeling of authenticity and humour in this work, which is always high quality, and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer group of people.

Kate by Dave Grubb

Kate Cox in Gin Lane by Dave Grubb

Foot tapping

Has it really been over a month since my last blog post? Where did the time go? Spring has sprung me into action (not that I’ve been idle!)

A day or two ago I came across a poem I started late last year; I decided I’d better finish it off. It’s a light-hearted piece inspired by the Harmonie Concert Band who invited me to be their special guest performer last November when I performed songs and poems, mostly with a musical theme. The new poem follows on from another one I wrote many years ago which was the title poem of my first collection and has resonated with musicians across the world. Both poems refer to the tapping of feet by musicians as they play, and both appear below. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Until I saw your foot

I thought this music was in four,
Until I saw your foot.
But now I think it must be three,
Or maybe five, I can’t quite see.
Or six? Or maybe not.

I thought this piece was rather slow,
Until I saw your foot.
But now I think it’s double speed –
Sometimes it’s very fast indeed.
And other times it’s not.

I thought conductors gave the beat,
Until I saw your foot.
But now I think it rather neat,
To look at all the tapping feet,
And choose the speed that I prefer,
And play along with him – or her.
I find it helps a lot.

I thought my timing was all wrong,
Until I saw your foot.
Conductors beat both east and west,
But we don’t play with all the rest:
We’ve found a tempo of our own,
And bar by bar, our love has grown.
O I was feeling so alone,
Until I saw your foot.

© Heather Wastie

Foot tapping styles
with thanks to the Harmonie Concert Band

Toe tap foot forward
knee bobbing.
Heel tap, knee bobbing low.

Toe tap foot back
stationary knee.
Heel tap, knee bobbing high.

Barely perceptible
in-shoe toe shift.
Dangling toe tap.
Toe wrap heel tap.
Heel lift air tap.
Heel tap knee tap.
Double heel double knee.
Broadside heel tap.
Random freestyle.
Shake it all about.

Finger twiddle cross rhythm.
Foot in twos, hand in threes.
Soft shuffle shoes
and a symphony of knees.

© Heather Wastie
March 2015

For a list of future performances see http://wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html

Christmas gifts

Gift ideas this Christmas!

BANANAS FROM THE HEART
CD £5.00 + £1.50 p&p
Available directly from me in person or by post using PayPal

Bananas from the Heart CD sleeve

Bananas from the heart
37 Hollybush Street
Black Country poetry
Apostrophes
At knife point in the butcher’s
Fooling the Guinness Book of Records
Concert etiquette
The Page-Turner’s Dilemma
Until I saw your foot
In memoriam gigam
Singer on the line
Catherine, Meg & Hannah
Hallowe’en Nightmare

There were slugs
I’m a pub
Pure and Good and Right
The case of Sir Bernard Spilsbury
Ping Pong Neonatal ICU

THE PAGE-TURNER’S DILEMMA
Heather Wastie with illustrations by Jules ~ cartoonist
76pp  £7.50 + £1.50 p&p  from  http://wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/Poetry.html

or directly from me in person or by post using PayPal

The Page-Turner's Dilemma cover

Poems of the Head in Dynamic Relation to F M Alexander
Heather Wastie
24pp £5.50 + £1.50 p&p
Available directly from me in person or by post using PayPal

Poems of the Head cover

A collection of poems and photographs created during an intensive Alexander Technique course in 2006 which gives an insight into its life-changing possibilities from the perspective of a total beginner.

Let go,
lengthen
like a swan,
smile
like a human.

“A beautiful little book …. Many congratulations!”
Estella Cauldwell, Teacher of Alexander Technique