Chloe Clarke’s commissioned poem + NPD photos

The Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate, Chloe Clarke was commissioned by the Museum of Carpet to write a poem inspired by the museum. She performed it there on National Poetry Day at my Light and Shade event. I think it’s a lovely poem and the Museum Manager is really pleased with it. The piece will soon be shared on the Museum blog http://museumofcarpet.org/news-blog/

Carpet People

They worked tirelessly
Every step on the pedal
Every pull every loosen and wind
Every percent of accuracy
Parts of themselves falling between the threads
Forming rosebuds of their work
circles of colour to be
secured, enclosed
They spread themselves over metres of house and home
Created masterpieces in 4 walls
To be laid down, walked on, ripped up and put away
When another shade, pattern or feel came into fashion
Sat, waiting, wanting to be chopped into a new kind of carpet, a rug, a doormat
To be in a new place
Or to have their handiwork glanced at for a final time
See
To you or me
carpet may seem something we never think about… until we’re asked to write a poem about it.
It’s something that we see constantly without a second thought.

But to those people
It was their livelihood
And when they were gone
When their names were lost in time
Faded, like the patterns they dyed
The colours that irritated their skin
it became a fossil of themselves
The only physical proof that they, they were here
That they were

And what a legacy they left
the sound of the machines are still beating in their blood lines
They kept soldiers warm after years of fighting their own battles in the cold
Fingerprints of their existence
Inked themselves over the whole town, country,
Even world
A museum of memories to encapsulate their years
A shrine to their blood sweat and tears.

I wonder if I will ever make anything someone will want to cover their house with
Whether I’ll make anything worth a spot in a gallery, a museum
Or a book worth awards
To be studied in future generations
Whether my name will fade, disappear
Or like a star
Still seen hundreds of years after I have gone
Maybe we will leave behind a home,
memories in our loved ones minds
Words that we said
Maybe we will always be just here (gesture to heart)
Maybe we will leave a possession passed from generation to generation
Like your great grandfathers pocket watch or your grandmothers wedding ring
Maybe we will leave a poem or some carpet, a mixtape or a family video
Things that we’ve spent hours perfecting.

What will be in someone’s garage, living room, back garden, pocket or heart,
As the only proof that we existed?

© Chloe Clarke
Commissioned by Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster, October 2015

Cutting from Slap Magazine http://www.slapmag.co.uk/

Cutting from Slap Magazine
http://www.slapmag.co.uk/

A few of the other performers are represented in the photos below. To find out more about the event see my recent blog post https://weavingyarns1.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/being-a-poet-laureate-on-national-poetry-day/

Cutting from Kidderminster Express & Star

Cutting from Kidderminster Express & Star

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Brian Comber, competition finalist

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Charley Barnes, shortlist public vote Winner

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Suz Winspear and Nina Lewis

Suz Winspear and Nina Lewis

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Carpet Forest in Malvern 20th-30th December

Here’s your final chance to see the wonderful Carpet Forest which includes some of my work. The installation was created for Kidderminster Town Hall and wowed visitors to Kidderminster Arts Festival 2013. Having visited Bristol, it now makes a final appearance at the Malvern Cube. Some of my Weaving Yarns work can be heard on mp3 players hidden amongst the trees. The installation was the brainchild of Loz Samuels, who said this about my involvement:

Having Weaving Yarns as an element of our Carpet Forest installation was a gift, and in turn gave a fantastic environment to showcase a taster of this work. The recordings … gave the public … insight into the real heart of the work. The stories and Heather’s interpretation of them sparked conversations amongst families about their connections with the carpet industry.
Loz Samuels, Wyre Forest District Council Arts Officer

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Weaving Yarns in Bristol & a poem about Floors

Photo of carpet forestDuring last year’s Kidderminster Arts Festival, some of my Weaving Yarns work could be heard in a forest made of carpet which transformed Kidderminster Town Hall. The forest was such a beautiful and relaxing place to be that people spent time sitting under the trees, even taking in picnics. It was magical. Here’s what Loz Samuels, whose idea the installation was, said about my contribution:

Having Weaving Yarns as an element of our Carpet Forest installation was a gift, and in turn gave a fantastic environment to showcase a taster of this work. The recordings on mp3s hidden in bird-boxes gave the public another element to interact with and on listening a sudden insight into the real heart of the work.

There’s now another chance to experience the carpet forest, this time in Bristol as part of the Easton Arts Trail at All Hallows Hall, 13 All Hallows Road, Bristol BS5 0HH from 6th to 15th June. See http://www.eastonartstrail.co.uk/pics/EAT-MAP-BACK-2014-jpg-A4.jpg for further info.

Here now is a poem which has no carpets, just floor boards. I wrote it after chatting briefly to a couple who were sat on the doorstep of their small, old house drinking tea.

Floors

We’re having a party
to celebrate
having floors.

Before today
we had windows,
walls and doors

and a roof
(though the sky
is our limit)

a house
that was empty
apart from our dreams

(the two of us
sitting on chairs
slipping off shoes)

We’re having a party,
drinking tea,
looking through doors
admiring our lovely new floors.

© Heather Wastie

Performance for World Book Night Wednesday 23rd April

Tomorrow, for World Book Night, I’ll be performing humorous poetry and songs at Sandwell Central Library, High Street, West Bromwich B70 8DZ. The event starts at 6.30 and I’ll be entertaining for 45 minutes or so, followed, I believe, by some more live music until about 8.00. Admission is £2.50 and proceeds go to Acorns Hospice. If you need further information call 0121 569 4904  or email central_library@sandwell.gov.uk. Otherwise please just come along!

Here’s a carpet-related poem from my first book Until I saw your foot: The vacuum-cleaner tuner. I’ll be performing it tomorrow! The lovely illustrations are by John Greaves Smith.

The vacuum cleaner tuner

from Until I saw your foot (click to enlarge)

Blame the weather man

The very first image which sparked off my interest in writing about Kidderminster and the carpet industry was one presented by Melvyn Thompson during a tour of the town. He talked about dyes from the various factories combining their colours in the River Stour. Very recently I was sent a poem about The Stour which includes that image so I have added it to the collection of writing by others on the Your Stories page, with thanks to Roger Mathews.

Since we’re on the subject of rivers, I wrote a piece recently which refers to the flooding issues along the River Severn. It also collects together quirky quotes from TV weather presenters. The verses are spoken and the chorus (in italics) sung. I sang it at Mouth and Music (www.mouthandmusic.co.uk) and hope to perform it again some time!

Blame the Weatherman

There are a few teething problems with Spring.
The winds are up to no good
and there’s some unctuous warm air
– a weather sandwich.

The barriers are up in Bewdley,
Worcester racecourse is inundated,
the long range weather forecast
is for a 6 week hose pipe ban

so there’s no need to dredge the rivers
and there’s no point clearing out the bridge holes,
water water everywhere
and no-one will carry the can

It’s all down to global warming
that the ice is melting in our greenhouse,
the shifting winds will blow your house down.
Blame the weather man.

Hail and hurricanes and earthquakes
Blame the weather man
(or the weather girl)
Blame the weather man.

The sunshine’s been in the shadows.
There’ll be rain romping in from the west on Wednesday;
It’ll be a real windscreen wiper of a morning.
There’ll be a psychedelic storm followed by some cool days.

We’ve got weather in the forecast today.
It’s going to throw lots of things at us.
The showers could be quite punchy
but we’ll be shoe-horning in some sun.

There’ll be some usable weather flirting with the south coast –
crisp, cold and deliciously sunny.
In the Midlands there’ll be a disappointing fog
and some clearly not helpful rain.

Today will be jam packed with plenty of weather;
I’ve been going mad with the crayons!
It will be colder than the figures on the weather map
due to cold air.
It’ll be 10 degrees. But it will feel like 9.

© Heather Wastie
March 2014

 

Kidderminster

Kidderminster has had some bad publicity over the years because people have a habit of abusing the name for no apparent reason! When I moved to the town in 2006, I began searching for other poets by googling “Kidderminster Poetry”. This is what I got:

Kidderminster Poetry
from E. Cobham Brewer‘s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898

Coarse doggerel verse, like the coarse woollen manufacture of Kidderminster. The term was first used by William Shenstone, who applied it to a Mr. C., of Kidderminster.

Thy verses, friend, are Kidderminster stuff;
And I must own you’ve measured out enough.”

Doggerel from Wikipedia

A derogatory term for verse considered of little literary value. The word probably derived from dog, suggesting either ugliness, puppyish clumsiness or unpalatability (as in food fit only for dogs).

Sylvia Herbert, who was Public Relations Officer at Brintons, tells me that in the 1990s, comedians Punt and Dennis famously derided Kidderminster as ‘carpet town’ so the Mayor invited them to switch on the Christmas lights! He asked Brintons to make a little commemorative rug for them. I like Punt and Dennis but they were deservedly on the carpet here.

I recently heard that Olivier award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn has called one of his latest plays The Kidderminster Affair. It is one of two short comedies written and directed by Mr Ayckbourn called “Farcicals”. When asked why he chose the named Kidderminster, Mr Ayckbourn simply replied: “I just liked the name.” I’m a fan of Ayckbourn but I think it’s unfair of him to name his play after a town just because he likes the name. The Kidderminster Affair is described as “a frivolous comedy of fun, infidelity and food fights”.

Next year, Kate Wragg and I plan to tour show Kidderminster Stuff, and most people I have spoken to feel we should change the name to give it wider appeal to promoters and audiences outside the area. After all, it could be the story of any town which grew and revolved around an industry and then suffered when the industry declined. Though we want to share the stories of Kidderminster people, it seems you have to be Alan Ayckbourn to get away with using the name in a title.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

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 http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/10834259.Weaving_looms__tell_their_story__at_Kidderminster_carpet_museum/

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.