Breakfast Blues

Turtle Song

Having worked extensively with people with dementia for many years, in 2016 I was involved as composer in a Turtle Song project with Turtle Key Arts. It took place in Wolverhampton and was one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever done. Turtle Song are celebrating their 10th Anniversary and have shared a video of one song from each of the projects on their website. Do click the link to see the wonderful work they do. Our song, Breakfast Blues, is here: https://vimeo.com/256636243

Suitcase Stories 2

banner - Reminiscence and music dementia social media banner 2018

I have just started work on a new project, as you will know if you read my recent blog post Grandma’s little box. Suitcase Stories 2 is an 18 month reminiscence and music project for people living with dementia and their carers in the Wyre Forest, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Wychavon districts running from November 2018 to March 2020.

Fortnightly music and reminiscence sessions will run on Mondays at The Museum of Carpet from 10.30am to 12.30pm and Forge Mill museum from 2.30pm-4.30pm and Fridays at Wallace House, Community Centre in Evesham from 10.30am to 12.30pm for just £2.50 per person. I will be kicking things off with Museums Worcestershire staff supporting with their handling objects.

There will also be monthly music workshops/performances in Bromsgrove on the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 1.30pm to 2.45pm just £2.50 per person.

This project is generously funded by Arts Council England, Elmley Foundation, Bransford Trust, Wyre Forest District Council, Redditch Borough Council, Bromsgrove District Council, Worcestershire County Council, John Martins Trust, Wychavon District Council and Museums Worcestershire.

If you want further information and to book contact Jenny Davis, Project Manager from Arts Uplift CIC jenny@artsuplift.co.uk 07946 585978

Genevieve Tudor’s Sunday Folk

I’ve featured on Genevieve’s lovely show in the past, but not for ages. I sent her a copy of the Tales from the Weavers’ Cottages CD and she played a track during this episode. It was a joy listening to the whole programme. She takes time to talk about the background to each track she plays, and is a generous interviewer, as you can tell from the interview on this programme.

I suggest you sit back, relax and soak it all up!

And if you would like to hear all of the Weavers’ Cottages songs, follow this link.

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.

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.


 

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

Carpet factory memories

During my time as Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, I ran some writing workshops. Margaret Green came to one of these workshops and talked about her memories of life in Kidderminster when she was a young girl. I wrote a poem using what she had told me. When I asked her for permission to publish the poem on my blog, she sent me the piece below which describes vividly what it was like for her as a young girl working in a carpet factory at the height of the industry. She wrote it after visiting the Museum with a group of poets who meet in Bewdley – the Bewdley Bards. My poem for Margaret appears first.

Sitting on the step
for Margaret Green

I’m sitting on the step,
my step,
the one with the cigarette burns,
cold because the sun never reaches it

I shuffle my dress
to cover the backs of my legs
and hug my knees

This morning
I woke to the call of Brintons Bull
and pulled on yesterday’s clothes

and now I’m sitting on my step
waiting by the factory doorway
waiting for the weavers
to give me sweets

© Heather Wastie
October 2015

Visit to the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster
by Margaret E Green (McCormick)
July 2015

Nostalgia sweeps over me, as I recall my first day at work, in Brintons Carpet factory. I was so young, at fifteen, but I soon fitted in to factory life; I was no longer a schoolgirl, but I was proud that I “worked!”

Memories came to me, remembering unfamiliar places to a young girl; the noise of the weaving looms, frightening at first; later on, I could easily identify the different sounds in the weaving sheds.

I smiled, thinking of the fun I had, and the young men, creelers, that I quickly became friendly with. The jokes that they played upon me. I was put in a basket, which was used to carry bobbins up the side of the loom, but they put me in one of them, and hoisted me up the loom, then left me, laughing at a safe distance.

I remember two young creelers, holding me in a sitting position in a chair, then painting my legs with size, the latex liquid, used on the backing of carpets. Of course, in the fifties, we were wearing stockings and suspenders; when I arrived back home from work that evening, I had to peel my stockings off my legs, painful, but funny.

Brintons was opposite the fire station; when the siren sounded, we all stopped what we were doing, and watched the retained firemen, who worked at Brintons, race along the side of the river Stour, which ran through the centre of the factory. It felt very exciting to me, to see the men running; well, I was only fifteen years old.

I experienced nostalgia again, when touching the carpets, feeling the yarn and remembering some of the patterns of carpets. Reliving the days when I had progressed to the mending department, then on to be a qualified carpet picker; remembering the sore fingers, from the large needle with which we mended the missing shots in the carpets. We all worked at a fast pace; piece work meant the more carpets we repaired, the greater the pay packet. I worked hard, and earned good money by the time I was only sixteen years of age. The best job was the picking and I enjoyed the company of friends. I still had fun, even though I wasn’t in and out of the sheds any more, talking with the young men, and wandering about the factory, sometimes where I shouldn’t be wandering!

Happy days, good memories, of my first job, in Brintons carpet factory.

Weaving Yarns book launched!

This post is all about the fact that Weaving Yarns, poems, songs and real life stories from the carpet industry, is now available to buy! Here is a link for online purchases from Black Pear Press who have been excellent to work with and have produced a first class item which I’m proud to hold in my hand, read from and generally wave in the air at people. http://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/heather-wastie/  You can also buy copies in the Museum of Carpet shop and from me of course!

Weaving Yarns front cover  12237954_873135339460734_9065783628317440527_o(1)

(More photos, taken by Tony Judge from Black Pear Press, appear below.)

I am indebted to the following performers who helped me put together an evening’s entertainment of poetry and music, performing their own work as well as mine: Sarah Tamar, Kathy Gee, Mike Alma, Polly Robinson and Kate Wragg. Many thanks to you all for your wonderful work.

I will let the comments of others describe the evening and the book.

It was a wonderful night, good luck with book sales so pleased with my copy terrific poetry and great photos.
Elizabeth Gelhard

Congratulations on your book launch. I thought it was a great evening and the book is something to be really proud of – you’ve connected with many people on many levels and I’m sure they will treasure this.
Caroline Jester

Well done to Heather and fabulous supporting cast. A very enjoyable evening, look forward to reading the book.
Ian Passey

Thank you for a lovely walk down memory lane! Well done Heather Wastie and all involved this evening it’s been lovely.
Rachel

Thank you Heather Wastie and everyone who took part tonight it was a very enjoyable evening of poems songs and memories.
Linda

Smashing night
Maggie Doyle

Really fantastic
Melanie Biggs

Thank you all for a fabulous evening.
Nicky Griffiths

Thanks Heather, that was a lovely evening.
Mike Alma

Great night!
Sarah Tamar

What a splendid evening it was–a joy to be part of it
Polly Robinson

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Weaving Yarns book launch, Wednesday 11th November

Weaving Yarns is a unique infectious cocktail of assorted snippets and stories about the carpet industry and the folk who helped to make Kidderminster the carpet town.”
(Melvyn Thompson, Historian to the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster).

Black Pear Press is delighted to announce the launch of Weaving Yarns, a new collection of poetry, songs and stories from Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie (Published by Black Pear Press, ISBN: 978-1-910322-18-5). Heather was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet in 2013 and has interviewed many retired carpet factory employees whose stories are told in this book.

The collection traces the impact of the carpet trade on Kidderminster and its people:

In the carpet capital of the world,
Brian is studying the Stour,
today’s mix of colours
from a multitude of dyes.

(From ‘Tell-tale Colours’)

And draws parallels with the carpet industry in other parts of the world:

There’s a line
from Turkey to Kidderminster
girl after girl after girl

tucking tiny fingers
between the warp threads
posed and squashed on solid planks

(From ‘Knotting Frames’)

Enjoy readings and music from Heather and friends, as she celebrates the publication of her book inspired by the rich history of Kidderminster’s carpet industry.

You are invited to join us at the Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green St, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ, 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start on Wednesday 11th November. The event is free to enter and should finish around 9pm.

“What could be better than this collection of poems for the expression of the emotions of townspeople who have witnessed the decay of their staple industry?”  (Nigel Gilbert, Writer and Historian)

The photographs and illustrations in Weaving Yarns are drawn from the extensive archive at the Museum of Carpet, and used with the generous permission of the Museum.

Further information is available from Black Pear Press: tony@blackpear.net
01299 253258

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