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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Happy National Poetry Day

This year’s NPD theme is Light. As well as presenting Light and Shade at the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster tonight, I’ll also be visiting St Barnabas School, Drakes Broughton for their Poetry Challenge Day. This poem is for them and for you.


The day the sun fell 

One day the sun
fell from the sky
and shattered on the ice
of my pond.

I ran to pick up
the pieces but
they were far too hot to hold
and began to burn holes in my lawn.

The shards glowed.
What should I do?
The whole world
was depending on me.

Sudden movement,
a blackbird ran from the darkness,
grabbed the fragments in his beak
and flung them

up, way up
one by one
until the sun
was whole again.

The sun winked
at the blackbird.
The blackbird winked
at me.

I squinted into
the beautiful light
and breathed a sigh
of relief.

© Heather Wastie 

Gallery 202 Featured Artist

I’m very pleased to be the Gallery 202 Featured Artist for October. Their invitation gave me the chance to create an overview of my work through 10 specific pieces and I’m delighted with how it looks  http://www.gallery202.co.uk/#!featuredartist/c1rbz

One of the pieces up there is Halloween Nightmare which I wrote and recorded years ago. It gets several airings at this time every year and people often tell me how much they enjoy hearing it again. On Monday evening 8.00-10.00 Radio Wildfire will be streaming a Halloween special and since my name is on the playlist, I’m assuming my exaggerated tale of doorstep horrors will be included there too http://radiowildfire.com/  There is a poem of mine, Iron Men, currently playing in the Radio Wildfire Loop as part of a surprising mix of words and music.

Finally here’s a plug for my event in Kidderminster next week. One of the tasks undertaken by The Worcestershire Poet Laureate is to put on an event on National Poetry Day so, in collaboration with Worcestershire LitFest and the Museum of Carpet, I will be presenting Light and Shade, Thursday 8th October, featuring a number of talented Worcestershire poets.

NPD Light & Shade event poster

Performance for Rugby World Cup, Tuesday 29th September

I have some exciting events coming up which you may be interested to hear about.

Next Tuesday evening, I’m MC at a prestigious event for the Rugby World Cup, in the Rugby Village fanzone. I’ll be doing 20 minutes of poetry with some music and introducing two other featured poets, Tony Walsh aka Longfella and Dave Reeves (who bellows), plus 6 local writers.

Poets in Touch flyer

See http://www.enjoyrugby.co.uk/enjoyrugby/events/event/30/poets_in_touch for further details.

One of my duties as The Worcestershire Poet Laureate is to put on an event for National Poetry Day, Thursday October 8th. So I’m presenting “Light and Shade” at the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster, jointly promoted by Worcestershire LitFest http://worcslitfest.co.uk/ and the Museum http://museumofcarpet.org

NPD Light & Shade event poster

On Wednesday November 11th, my book Weaving Yarns is being launched, published by Black Pear Press. This is also at the Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green Street, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ.

Lots to be excited about!

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.

Threading into a forest of carpet

After a couple of weeks on holiday, I have been frantically preparing for Kidderminster Arts Festival which starts on Saturday! (See link to Festival at the bottom of this post.) Part of the Town Hall is, right now, being converted into a forest made up of carpet donated by Brintons. There will be special lighting and an ambient soundtrack, created by Andy Edwards, which includes birdsong mingled with recordings of the looms at the Museum of Carpet. Planted in 3 bird boxes (how sweet!) will be recordings I have made combining interviews with poems and songs so that you can hear how I used the words spoken to create pieces for the people being interviewed. These recordings represent all of the places I have worked in so far on this project – The Tulip Tree Centre, Among Friends, the area where I live, the Museum of Carpet and Kidderminster in general.

I took a few snaps of work in progress on the forest this morning. It has been designed by Jo and Kate DeBurgh who are working like crazy to get it finished. It already looks amazing!

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I have also been very busy preparing for performances of “Kidderminster Stuff” of course. There’s just over a week to go to the first show on Friday 16th. See the Performances page for details.

Here’s my latest poem, written for Ben who I met at a party! You will be able to hear me reading this in the carpet forest, followed by a recording of a Polish man sharing his memories of having to leave his beloved country.

Threading

Threading
Tedious
Time passed slowly

Six till ten
First day
Bell went at 7.30 thought I’d finished!
Couldn’t believe it
An hour and a half felt like four

Threading
Yarn on a long spool
Slotted into the tube frame

Finish a spool
One end left over
Realise you made a mistake
Right at the beginning
Go back and do it all again

Bangladeshi bobbin boys
Ill treated by many
Why are you talking to those w …
Polish and Italian
No problem

Threading
Colours in sequence
According to the pattern

© Heather Wastie
July 2013

Finally, thanks to Polly Robinson for sending me a poem she wrote after one of my workshops. You can also find it on her own blog https://journalread.wordpress.com/

“A wonderful workshop with Heather Wastie, the Poet in Residence for the Kidderminster Carpet Museum, led to this poem about the building and the way the effluent from the carpets flowed into the river in times gone by.”

Reeking Dyes

Carpet dust motes in sunlight
dapple the floor through the flights.
My nose itches, snitchily tight.
A glass-topped room and loom below,
while underneath reeking dyes flow,
a myriad of colours, a rainbow
– ten pence a yard –
resting on the river; the ever-changing
river,
red and
green and
yellow and
blue.

Polly Robinson © 2013

Kidderminster Arts Festival link
http://www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/cms/leisure-and-culture/arts-and-entertainment/kidderminster-arts-festival/kaf-13.aspx

Brinton’s Bull

Thanks to Museum volunteers Mick Lowe and Sandra Ash for giving me the idea for this poem, which also includes words from Garry Hooper and Amanda Barrie who I chatted to on Facebook, and Carol who I met at Sight Concern. The photo is ‘Home Time’ at Carpet Trades 1960 which was the nearest I could get to the image described to me!

Home time, 7 Nov 1960Carpet Trades (Berrows photo)

Waiting for the Bull

The starting line is set –
a formidable arm-in-army,
eyes fixed on freedom
beyond the force field.

Rollers fixed at tea break,
bursting to escape,
Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples lookalikes
combine into a deep sea of heads,
a Pavlovian tsunami
released by the sound of the Bull.

And they’re off!
Setters, winders, pickers,
fearless of traffic,
flood Corporation Street
engulf Exchange Street,
while those in the know
have steered clear of the tidal wave
of single minded women
whose time is now their own.

© Heather Wastie
July 2013

 

Having asked for stories about Brinton’s Bull, which used to sound in the town 5 times a day, I was really pleased to get lots of responses on a Facebook group called Kidderminster Past. I have combined these comments into the Brinton’s Bull Blues which I will be performing with Kate Wragg at Kidderminster Arts Festival, both in the Museum of Carpet and in the Boars Head pub. Thanks to all those who responded and all those I have interviewed so far. Much of the material I have written from these interviews will be included in the performance.

Kidderminsterstufffrontkiddermisterstuffback

Brinton’s Bull Blues

I’m sitting at the window
and I hear that whistle blow,
sitting at the window
and I hear that whistle blow,
seven twenty in the morning
and I hear that whistle blow.

Dot’s on her way from Cookley to Kidder,
pedalling as fast as she possibly can.
John’s in a panic but knows ten minutes
is plenty to get on his bike and clock in.

Mal and her mother have jumped in the car,
her Mum starts at half past, it’s not very far
to Quayle and Tranter on the edge of town,
the fabulous Bull never lets them down.

Creeler Brian is standing beneath it
watching the day workers coming in.
Chris is in Sutton Road doing his paper round
timed by the Bull, so he’s listening.

I’m standing at the gate
and I hear that whistle blow,
standing at the gate
and I hear that whistle blow,
seven thirty in the morning
and I hear that whistle blow

Eric’s in Worcester Street on his dad’s bike,
just started work at the age of sixteen.
Woodward Grosvenor’s gates will be locked,
he knows he won’t get to the clocking in machine.

Michele is sauntering on Hurcott Lane.
Bazz leaving home knows he’s going to be late.
Michele on her way from Land Oak to Lea Castle.
Bazz being clocked in by his mate,

Alan, who’s thinking “He’ll get me in trouble!
He’d better show up or we’ll both get the sack!”
Bazz thinking, “Al, I’ll be there in a jiffy”
jumps on his bike without looking back.

Mike knows it’s time he was getting up,
if he doesn’t he’d better look out for his dad
who’ll be threatening him with a glass of cold water
and so he groans and gets out of bed.

The streets are all deserted
but I hear that whistle blow
The streets are all deserted
but I hear that whistle blow
The afternoon is ghostly
and I hear that whistle blow

Mandy’s out playing, it’s lunchtime at school.
Phill’s having dinner at home with his dad.
“Come on! The buzzer’s gone! Got to get going!
From Wood Street to Mill Street and drive like mad!

Later there’s Rachel who’s waiting impatiently,
stood with her mom at the factory gate,
the sound of the Bull makes her so excited,
she knows that she hasn’t got long to wait.

There’s a crowd building up at Brinton’s gate,
Garry is running to catch his bus,
Amanda is happy her dad will be home soon
like hundreds he’s part of the five o’clock rush.

I can see a revolution
when I hear that whistle blow,
see a revolution
when I hear that whistle blow,
I can see the town revolving
round that whistle when it blows.

I can see that steam a-rising
and I hear that whistle blow,
see that steam a-rising
and I hear that whistle blow,
it ain’t nothing but a memory
cos that Bull don’t blow no more.

© Heather Wastie
June 2013

2nd verse based on a 4 line poem by Mal Ballinger, slightly altered to fit.