Heritage Open Day performances on Saturday

The annual Heritage Open Days are free events in September designed to celebrate heritage, community and history. This coming Saturday, September 9th, I will be part of Kidderminster’s contribution to this nationwide festival, giving performances of songs I have written about the newly restored Weavers’ Cottages and others which tell the stories of people who worked in the carpet industry. Click here for a recording of one of those songs, Tying the Knot.

Here’s the schedule:

10.30 outside Town Hall 15 minutes
11.00 inside Town Hall (Corn Exchange) 30 Minutes
12.45 outside Town Hall 15 minutes
2.00 inside Town Hall (Corn Exchange) 30-40 minutes

All performances inside if it’s wet outside!

There will be lots to see inside the Town Hall too.

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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. 

Weavers’ Cottages songs

If you click the link below you will find stories and poems by Margaret E Green, Sharon Cartwright, Kathy Gee and Maggie Doyle written as a result of my workshop for the Weavers’ Cottages restoration project in Kidderminster. My commissioned songs are there too, performed by Sue Pope and myself, recorded by Diabolus in Musica.

http://www.weaverscottages.info/poems-stories-music.htm

Loom in the loft (finally)

Yesterday was the culmination of a wonderful collaboration between many different people to restore and celebrate the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster and turn them into homes again. I was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to write a song cycle about the cottages. A few months back, I met the Site Manager & others working on site during an inspiring tour of the cottages when the buildings were taking shape. I subsequently watched 360-degree films of the interior made by James McDonald who also inspired me. Site Manager Andy told me yesterday that the poem I wrote and recorded in response to all this had had quite an effect on him. He came up to me after one of two performances of the songs (plus evocative poems and stories written by people who came to my writing workshop) and said how much he had enjoyed them. I will treasure the special connections like this which I have made through this project. It was also very moving to see Roger at the loom in the loft – the final time we would ever see a hand loom being used there. 

The title of this post refers to the first line of the chorus of one of the songs:

Loom in the loft / Silk on the loom / Wool in the shuttle / Give the shuttle room

Performing with me were Sue Pope (Project Organiser) on ukulele and poets Margaret E Green and Sharon Cartwright. 

For further details about the cottages, which will be for sale very shortly, see http://www.weaverscottages.info/

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.

Poetry workshops Thurs October 20th

I’m in the process of writing a song cycle – both words and music – to help bring to life the history of these wonderful Weavers Cottages, currently being restored in Kidderminster. http://www.weaverscottages.info/

weavers-cottagesIt’s a bit of a race to see which are finished first, the songs or the cottages! The songs are all about the people – the workers, their families, the Masters – and the activities which went on in and around the cottages. Now there’s an opportunity for you to become involved and write something yourself. See below.

 

A Taste of Words poetry workshop

On Thursday, October 20th, come along to explore and develop your own poetry writing skills with Heather Wastie, the Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16.

Two FREE workshops will run, from 10.30-12.30 and 1.15 to 3.15 pm, suitable for all abilities. They will draw inspiration for your ideas 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.

The venue is The Gatsby Emporium, Unit 3 Carlton House, Oxford St, Kidderminster DY10 1BB in the centre of Kidderminster.

Places are free but limited. To book please contact Sue Pope on: 07875 377243 or email: merrienoyse@btinternet.com

Download the poster: http://www.weaverscottages.info/media-releases/Poetry-Taster-poster-Oct-20.pdf

Weaver’s Cottages an inspiration 

Today I took advantage of a free-to-attend Open Day at the Weaver’s Cottages in Kidderminster, as inspiration for the song-cycle I’m writing about the history of the cottages. The site manager took us up to roof level to see tiles of clay and slate highlighting the fact that the cottages were not all built at the same time. Craftsmen demonstrated and described the making of bricks, wall plates etc and we were able to speak to the project director and volunteers. Everyone spoke with passion and enthusiasm and brought aspects of the cottages’ history to life. A walking talk by Melvyn Thompson, always an inspiration, then took us to the Museum of Carpet where more information was available.

The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust is doing an excellent job, not just with the building work but also with its programme of events to engage and inform the public. I’m delighted to have been commissioned by the Trust to write songs which will be sung for the first time at free workshops in Kidderminster on 16th August 11.00-1.00 and 2.00-4.00. You’re invited to take part! See www.weaverscottages.info to find out more.