Sonnet for the post office cashier

Inspired by my love of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and my annoyance at being ignored, here’s one for ‘the bloke in the post office’:

From the other side

Apart from necessary words, like First
or second? One pound twenty six
, the post
office cashier will sing a random burst
of tunes, or whistle, distantly, engrossed.

No please or thank you, what a lovely day,
is that the time and is it raining?
No,
he scats, he taps and clips as if to say
please go away, you spoil my status quo.

I’m tempted to turn up with drum and bass
or improvise a subtle harmony
to beat him, join him, make him lift his face
from paperwork, engage, duet with me,
turn our encounter to a merry vamp
but all he will acknowledge is a stamp.

© Heather Wastie

Last Saturday, we marked 400 years since Shakespeare died, which could be considered a rather morbid way of marking someone’s achievements. Let’s celebrate Shakespeare every year, as the Scots celebrate Burns!  Tomorrow night in Kidderminster we’re doing this ….

Shakespeare Soapbox poster

A poem about the gherkin

Elena Thomas has asked me to post my gherkin poem which I wrote after sitting in a Worcester pub with poets Sarah James and Angela Topping. Since all three of them are featuring at my next Mouth and Music event (on Tuesday 8th September) how could I refuse?

A poem about the gherkin
for Sarah James & Angela Topping

You are smerkin
at a gherkin
that is lerkin
on her platter

How I ferkin
hate the gherkin,
stomach-jerkin
little rotter

I am werkin
to ban the gherkin,
stop ’em lerkin
on our platters!

Take that, gherkin!
I’ll go berserk in
never sherkin
what really matters!

© Heather Wastie

Elena says I used up all the rhymes. Since writing it, I have been given a couple of suggestions for rhymes I missed. All I can say is, I’m glad I hadn’t thought of them.

Have a nice day
and please keep the gherkins at bay.

ESOL Workshops & Kidderminster Arts Festival

I ran some creative writing workshops for ESOL students recently. Follow this link to see a description of the work and watch a short film including some of the poems which were written http://www.creativepeopleplaces.org.uk/our-impact/break-your-silence

In my recent blogs I have completely failed to mention my performances this coming weekend as part of Kidderminster Arts Fetival!

On Friday 21st I’m performing for Arts Etc. in their latest show ‘KABARET’, “a magical, fantabulous show full of the unexpected”. Arts Etc. are an inclusive Community Theatre company – empowerment through creativity. See http://www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk/events/kabaret/

My regular spoken word and acoustic music gig, Mouth and Music, has switched to a Sunday afternoon for a circus-themed extravaganza on the 23rd. See http://www.mouthandmusic.co.uk/ for more info.

If you ever want to see my performance diary, do check my website http://wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html.

Now I need to get my accordion out and do some practice!

Poem: School visit by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education

Have you heard of the Emergency Poet? She is “the world’s first and only mobile poetic first aid service”, the brilliant idea of poet Deborah Alma. My poetry has been prescribed by her in the past. Here’s a link to her website http://emergencypoet.com/. She often puts out a call for pieces on a particular subject, and her most recent request was an unusual one …. poems for Nicky Morgan. I sent this one to her last week and she has been pestering me to blog it ever since. It was written just before the election and I performed it at a Politics-themed Mouth and Music (http://www.mouthandmusic.co.uk/) in March. So here it is!

School visit by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education

Now listen to me children,
your future’s in our hands
and we have all the answers,
though it’s hard to understand.

So we’ve put it in a poem
and drawn some pictures too,
to help you choose your subjects
for the job that’s best for you.

We’ve put it in a poem
to have a bit of fun!
It’s not an occupation
we’d suggest to anyone!

No! Poetry’s not a proper job;
our tax data will show
that the “true worth” of a poet
is very very low.

Our figures on school leavers
will show you won’t be wealthy
if you become a poet
and that’s not very healthy.

You need to have an income,
you must put money first,
and it isn’t very clever
to play with silly verse.

Now are there any questions?
Oh come on, don’t be shy.
Has the cat got all your tongues?
You there, what’s that you say?

You think I’m talking rot
because if what I say is true
then why are you learning poems
in Key Stage 1 and 2?

And did the poets not got paid?
Did they do it for free
to help your education?
And you think a poet would be far more interesting than me?

Well done! I see you’ve learned to rhyme
and make your stanzas scan!
But there’s something wrong with your final verse.
Do fix that, if you can.

© Heather Wastie
2015 Worcestershire Poet Laureate

Liaisons with a Laureate

If you want to know how the Worcestershire Poet Laureate and I have coincided over the last few weeks … Croome Court, Mouth and Music, and our own show “How do Wars Start” … do read this:

http://worcslitfest.co.uk/worcestershire-poet-laureate/

NOW AVAILABLE FOR BOOKINGS!

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How do wars start

by Heather Wastie & Fergus McGonigal

A Dummies’ Guide to Starting a War, a nameless hand puppet, mother’s advice, song references, borders and disputes over a carpet, poetry which rhymes or doesn’t, plus music and blowing up balloons …. entertaining and interactive; 30 minutes of answers.

Commissioned by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2014

Audience feedback:

“Very clever use of words and everyday phrases to dramatic effect. A totally unique slant on the question asked.”
Worcestershire Poet Laureate Emeritus, Maggie Doyle

“Very moving and thought provoking”
“Thoroughly enjoyable”
“Love the “Facebook” duet”
“Tony Blair!”

More info and photos here
https://www.facebook.com/how.do.wars.start

Kidderminster Arts Festival

The annual two-week Kidderminster Arts Festival begins on Saturday. I’ve just counted them up and realise that I will be performing at 5 different events! The first is the launch on Friday night, which is a private affair, but the other 4 events are public so I’d better tell you about them!

Tuesday 12th August  MOUTH AND MUSIC Boars Head 8.00-11.00pm  http://www.mouthandmusic.co.uk
I run this monthly acoustic event with poet Sarah Tamar and we take it in turns to MC. It’s Sarah’s turn for our festival special, but I’ll be doing a 5 minute spot including a brand new humorous song which I finished this morning. All I will say is that is was inspired by a woman I met in a care home at one of my recent workshops. She made me howl with laughter and I have done my best to translate what she told me into song.
It will be a great evening with poet, Matt Windle, Scandinavian influenced folk music from Sirkel plus spoken word and music open mic.

.Mouth & Music Poster aug14

Saturday 16th August  ATTENTION SEEKERS’ STAGE Outside Town Hall, Kidderminster 2.30-2.45
I will be singing 3 songs which I recently recorded and put onto CD. The songs quote the many people I have met at performances and workshops for the Alzheimer’s Society and CDs are being sold to raise awareness as well as funds for this excellent dementia charity.

Alzheimer's Army CDs

Thursday 21st August  HOW DO WARS START?  Kidderminster Library 11.15am plus other venues tba
After being awarded a festival commission, I have teamed up with Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal to create a humorous and entertaining 20 minute piece of interactive performance poetry. If you would like to get involved see https://www.facebook.com/how.do.wars.start. We’re busy working on it right now!

KAF14 spoken word Events Poster

Thursday 21st August  Kidderminster Creatives SPOKEN WORD NIGHT Boars Head 7.00-9.30pm  http://kidderminster-creatives.org.uk/
Short sets of spoken word with plenty of time to browse the art in between. Not sure what I’ll be performing that night, but if you would like to book a performance slot, email info@kidderminster-creatives.org.uk.

To find out more about KAF14 see http://www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk/

 

The Tuner’s Eye

I’ve been busy arranging my Weaving Yarns poems and songs into a draft script for “Kidderminster Stuff” with Kate Wragg (August 16th and 17th – see Performances page).  There are a few pieces still to write after interviewing people, including one person I met at a party! We start rehearsing next week.

If you’re interested in a sneak preview of “Kidderminster Stuff”, do come to LOAF at The Coach House Community Arts Centre, Rectory Road, Oldswinford, Stourbridge DY8 2HA on Sunday 7th July at 11.15 when I’ll be doing a half-hour set, followed by Kate Wragg 12.00-12.30. I will also be singing “Tying the Knot” at Mouth and Music, Boar’s Head, 39 Worcester Street, Kidderminster DY10 1EW on Tuesday 9th July 8.00pm.

On Saturday 6th July I will be talking about the Weaving Yarns project at a Writing West Midlands Writer Networking Morning at the Light House, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT 10.00-12.00. For further information about all of these events see http://www.wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html

I’m grateful to my local District Councillor, Chris Nicholls, who gave me some funding to interview people where I live in Cookley. One of the people I interviewed was Geoff Perks who worked as a tuner. He lives in a nursing home and last week I visited him to read the song lyrics I had written about him to check he was happy. He wasn’t at all well but he listened intently as I read and at the end he smiled a broad smile and said he was very impressed. This was so rewarding for me, and I’ve sent the piece to his family. Years ago I edited a bo0k of reminiscences after interviewing people in Tipton and the daughters of one of the people whose memories appear in that book came up to me at the launch and expressed their gratitude. Oral history is so valuable.


The Tuner’s Eye

for Geoff Perks

There’s more to making carpets
than meets the casual eye,
so said a canny tuner
and then he told me why.
He spoke of cops and shuttles
and how he tuned the loom.
This is what he told me
one day in his living room:

CHORUS
A cop is like a sausage,
a sausage made of jute,
jute inside a shuttle,
watch the shuttle shoot.
The sausage will unravel
as the shuttle flies across.
The tension must be perfect
for the weaver, he’s the boss.

Hold your finger up
and put the jute around,
turn it round and up
then turn it round and down,
enough to fill a shuttle,
that’s the time to stop,
that’s how machines would do it,
that’s how they made a cop

CHORUS

The shuttle’s double ended,
its points are very sharp,
you keep your wits about you
as the weft speeds through the warp
A shuttle can be dangerous
and blood has been spilled,
shuttles have shot out
and weavers have been killed.

CHORUS

The weft keeps on going,
at the end of a cop
another piece is tied to it –
seamless, doesn’t stop.
His dad was a weaver,
his grandfather too,
from bobbin boy to tuner,
he’s seen a thing or two.

CHORUS

© Heather Wastie
May 2013