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. 

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Take A Look At This…

Thanks to Polly for sharing my post she saw on Facebook #TheIdleWomen

Polly

A good friend of mine, Heather, whom I haven’t seen in far too long, says ‘I have performed this piece so many times now! Getting on for 40 this year alone. Here is the original recorded version by request. The live performance has developed and I take more time over it now – CRT commissioned a 6-minute piece and it turned out to be exactly that length without me having to edit it. It’s good to hear the real Emma and Nancy, and the lovely engines I recorded, and see photos of some of the ‘Idle Women’. The next time I perform it will be at the Barley Mow, Newbold on Monday. See www.alarumtheatre.co.uk for the remaining tour dates.’

Watch this YouTube of the poem, it’s amazing!

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Stereotypes

I’m nearing the end of a project with Birmingham Poet Laureate, Matt Windle (‘Poet with Punch’) working with NEETs (young people Not in Education Employment or Training) from Nova Training, Kidderminster. The project was initiated by the Museum of Carpet with funding from The Clore Duffield Foundation

Today we did some evaluation with the group which took us back to the first session, in November 2016, when the young people were asked to say what they thought about Matt and I, based on our appearance and what they knew about poets. I had fun writing the poem below which describes what they said about me. Here I am wearing the same top I had on that day:

zebra-photo

Stereotypes

I’m a poet
a know-it-all nose-in-the-air kind of person
like Shakespeare, it’s quite clear
I should have a beard and make notes
with the quill of a feather,
but wait just a minute,
I’m Heather.

You think
that you’ve seen me in Sainsbury’s,
my arm pushing produce from right to left,
or I could be the woman who shuffles
the stock in a charity shop,
but stop!

I’m a zebra,
a horse dressed in stripes
and I’m crossing the road
between two different
stereotypes.

© Heather Wastie
November 2016

And what did they say about Matt? That he ought to be bald.

Until I Saw Your Foot again

Recently, an artist friend of mine who, like me, uses Twitter to advertise his work, complained in a tweet that the number of interactions he received was too low. There’s lots of advice available on how to get noticed on Twitter, but my first thought was this: more people notice you than interact with you.

This leads nicely into my latest story of a poem I published in 1997 which has been interacting with people across the world ever since. I only know about these interactions when I do an internet search, or when someone contacts me to ask permission to reproduce the poem. I know full well that Until I Saw Your Foot has been shared without my name attached to it, and this annoys me, though I’m delighted that people enjoy it enough to want to pass it on. (In fact I’m waiting for the day someone comes up to me and says, “Hey I know this great poem ….” gleefully brandishing my own work.) 

From time to time, an email appears out of the blue from someone asking permission to share the poem in some way. (Bravo to those people!) In December I was contacted by a wind player in Norway who wanted to reproduce my poem on a website. I said yes, that would be fine, as long as he acknowledged me as author, and please could he tell me how he found out about the poem. (I always ask.) His response led me to a Norwegian conductor by the name of Helge Haukås who I immediately emailed. Here’s his reply:

So you excist! What a big pleasure..

I was complaining to the players of the Nordic Wind Orchestra, Iceland 1999, because so many was tapping their feet during playing. I said, as a conductor I wanted to be the pulse maker in the room.. or something like that.

One of the horn-players, I only remember his first name Kjartan, from Iceland, said he knew a poem about this and mailed it to me. This must be five computers ago so I cannot find the original mail.

But I so much wanted to recite this poem spontaneously that I immediately learned it by heart and still knows it.

Next time I recite it I will happily enough be able to share with my audience who the author is!

Helge Haukås

The moral to this story is …. your creativity is working for you, even when you’re off doing something completely different, and it’s always worth putting stuff out there – you never know who might be watching, or even memorising your work!

The wrong word!

I write a tiny poem, decide to share it in a blog, spend ages writing a description of the tiny poem for the blog, agonise over one word in the tiny poem, find the perfect word, tell myself to stop dithering, post the poem, immediately look again at the poem and add a comma and a full stop, chide myself for concentrating so hard on one word that I neglected the punctuation. Go to a meeting, come back from the meeting, look at the tiny poem, see the word in all its dullness and think No! After all that hunting through the thesaurus, being sure I had it, I chose the wrong word! Another much better word pops straight into my head. I’m cautious this time. Has this new word been sent to fool me into a false sense of security? Wait. Do something else. Look again at the tiny poem. Have a meal. Look again at the tiny poem. Go to bed thinking, if I still like the new word tomorrow, it’s in. Next day, edit the tiny poem (about sausages, for goodness sake!) to include the new word. 

Is it really that important? Yes it is. The tiny poem is no masterpiece, but I will not leave it languishing with the wrong word. In fact the first word I chose was ‘languish’, which then became ‘beefy’. If you really care about my tiny poem and the difference one word can make, you could go back and look at the shiny new word. You may think Pah! Why did she bother? You may not look at all, having far better things to do, or you may be a poet who knows exactly what I’ve been going through.

Free range sausages

Free range sausages

My haiku about sausages was inspired by a conversation in a pub restaurant. On the menu were ‘free range sausages’, conjuring up images of happy little sausages growing up in relative freedom before ending up on a dinner plate. One of our party had a poetic description of how he likes his gravy, hence this:

Free range sausages,
bullish on mash, with descent-
controlled gravy.

© Heather Wastie

I’ve got lots of performances coming up. Here’s a link to my DIARY which, as I type, needs updating so you’ll have to look past the old dates!

 

 

Absent Ginsberg Now Available

My contributor copy of Absent Ginsberg arrived in the post today. The ebook went straight to No.1 on Kindle. It’s a lovely inviting book and, having read a few of the poems, I’m really looking forward to getting to know it better.

A Swift Exit

41Ipl6HatvL (1)We are thrilled to announce that the books are now live on both the Amazon Kindle site and on Amazon Marketplace for the physical book.

Physical Book

eBook here

Copies for UK contributors have been posted out today and overseas contributors will be posted out tomorrow.

In the meantime, a cup of tea and a Jammy Dodger seems like a good way to relax.

If you would like to buy from us directly, the cost is:

£7.99 + £1.50 postage (£9.49 total) (UK and Europe) or

£7.99 + £4.75 postage outside of Europe. (£12.74 total)

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