Suitcase Stories: Grandma’s little box

I started work on a new project yesterday. Organised by Arts Uplift under the title Suitcase Stories, it’s 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.

Yesterday we held a taster session in Redditch, singing familiar songs and looking at objects from a suitcase containing all sorts of things to trigger memories as a starting point for conversation and songwriting. Here are some lines I wrote using what one of the participants told me:

Grandma’s little slipper-shaped box

I’d never seen her take it before,
so it came as quite a shock
the day I saw my grandma
open up her little box,

pinch out the yellow powder
and push it up her nose
then try to hide her fingers
behind the dominoes.

Her handkerchiefs were horrible –
stained by that yellow stuff
but the little box was beautiful,
filled with grandma’s snuff.

© Heather Wastie

Here is a link to more information about the project. There are places available, should you know of anyone who may be interested, and there’s a mentoring opportunity for music students too.

Tonight I’ll be performing in Malvern with four other Worcestershire Poets Laureate. Happy National Poetry Day! 

3 Poems on Freedom

National Poetry Day will take place on Thursday 28 September 2017 and this year’s theme is “Freedom”. Click here for a whole page of Freedom Poems. Here are three of mine:

 

High Rise Artist

I knew a man
who filled the only bedroom
of his twentieth floor flat

with wild horses,
huge canvases
depicting freedom,

they wouldn’t fit through the door,
let alone get as far as the knackered lift.

In the sitting room,
along with his bed,
was a new piece,

not horses this time
but a woman who had jumped
from her window

trapped forever mid-air.

© Heather Wastie

 

Mistaken identity

You seek happiness
and thought you saw it
in my eyes

but it was not
happiness, it was
freedom.

Find freedom
and you will find
happiness.

Understand freedom
and you will understand
happiness.

No matter how hard you look
into my eyes
you will not find happiness,

my happiness
or yours.

© Heather Wastie

 

Breaking the surface

Now that the heavy sheen is gone,
eroded by tears,
I am no longer afraid to
let the wild wind splatter my face,
lose my grip on rocks slippery with seaweed,
feel the freedom of floating
in a salt sea.

© Heather Wastie

Squeeze Me, BBC Local Poets commission

This poem was commissioned by BBC Local Radio for National Poetry Day 2016. The brief was for 40 poets across England and the Channel Islands to write from the point of view of a landmark or object associated with the area their BBC Local Radio station covers. For me it was Herefordshire and Worcestershire. You should be able to work out what it’s about, though you may not guess exactly what I’m referring to at the end. I’ve added a note at the bottom of the page so you can see if you guessed correctly!

Squeeze me

Close your eyes,
take me in your hand
and squeeze me.

Am I
the sweet smooth-skinned Sandlin Duchess,
the blushing May Queen,
the mysterious Scotch Bridget, worth keeping,
or Gwendolen, appealing, with a hint of wine?

Am I Dick’s Favourite?
Am I
your favourite?
The apple of your eye?

Feel how small I am,
small but robust,
quality not quantity;
my breeding dictates my destiny,
bittersweet.

Lizzy, Vicky, Gilly,
Amanda, Jane …
when I have matured,
when I have spent time
with Hilda, Lucy, Dora, Jessie,
Hereford, Worcester, Wilfred, Raven,
Darby, Joan …

you will have forgotten my name
but you will thank me
and bless me, dancing and singing,
as you drink from the Wassail cup.

© Heather Wastie
September 2016

bbc-heref-worcs-npd-2016-pic

I performed the poem on BBC Hereford & Worcester yesterday, National Poetry Day. To hear my interview and poem, go to around 1:22 of Tammy’s show. I am also just about to post a recording of the poem on Soundcloud


There are 3 sets of names in this poem (in order):

  • eating apple varieties ‘deemed to have originated in Worcestershire’

  • bittersweet cider apples grown in John Worle’s cider apple tree nursery in Herefordshire

  • names given by Westons Cider (Ledbury) to their oak fermenting vats

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!