Sandstone, slogans & poems to be found

During my research for The Ring Project, people have been very generous with their time and memories and by sharing photos and archive recordings. As well as these, I have received one rather unusual gift. Can you identify this mystery object, given to me by John Burman? The answer appears at the end of this post.

One of the outcomes of my research will be a small book of poems with photos from Max Sinclair’s collection. My aim is to bring to life the activity that went on to restore the Droitwich Canals and show what the area was like before the work was done. You may wonder how I will do this through poetry. One method is to use words I find.

Carnival 82

This photo from Nick Yarwood (via Tony Brannon) is a perfect example. It features Nick Wright with Droitwich Canals Trust’s ‘work horse’ pulling the Smalley 15 digger belonging to the Waterway Recovery Group. Nick told me it was a most unusual sight in the 1982 Droitwich Carnival procession.

RESTORING THE PAST FOR THE FUTURE is a great slogan. Both the photo itself and the cartoon on the lorry raised a smile:

MOMMY MOMMY THERE’S A MAN
DIGGING IN OUR DUSTBIN

David Turner talked to me about working as a volunteer, shaping sandstone blocks. He sent me some photos and I’ve pieced together a ‘found’ poem using words he said in his interview. The slideshow also includes 2 pics given to me by Bill Lambert.

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Wherever there’s a ladder
wherever there’s a gate
there’s a sandstone block,
cut with a saw,
chipped with a chisel
smoothed with a file,
shaped to a pattern,
outside in the freezing cold.

There’s also poetry to be found in the newspaper … I extracted a few lines from an article ‘Barren canal could be source of ‘liquid gold” in the Worcester Evening News, 14th June 1966. Apologies for the quality of the photo which I took having grappled with a microfilm reader in The Hive, Worcester.

Worcester Evening News 14 June 1966 - 1

A few inches of smelly water,
a hideous mixture
of paint, oil and household garbage
nothing more than a filthy damp ditch
and disconnected duck ponds.

There’s a hidden wealth of beauty
along the Salwarpe valley …

(the words of Bob Clarke)

Included in my previous blog is a photo I took of the culvert under the canal at Salwarpe. Nick described to me in detail the work undertaken by volunteers, and after he and I did our walk along the canal I acquired Nick’s photos. I’ve added my own again at the end of these to show the finished job as it is today.

Salwarpe culv 82 2Salwarpe culv 82 22Salwarpe culv 82 33Salwarpe culv 82 416. Culvert under canal

As promised, I will leave you with the answer to my question, in the words of Nick Yarwood: “At the heal of each lock gate there’s a cast iron pin about which the gate pivots. It engages in a cast iron socket set into the cill.”

This is probably the only one that’s left and it’s looking for a new home ….

Previous blogs
15th November Salwarpe to Porters Mill
20th October Update on The Ring Project
23rd May  The Ring Project

Poetry Workshop – Women in WW1

To mark 100 years since the formation of the Women’s Institute, poetry workshops are taking place across Worcestershire. These are 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, 100 will be chosen to be included in the installation, and poets are, where possible, writing about the experiences of a female relative during WW1. Participants are being asked to do a little research and bring in mementos, photographs, old family recipes etc about their chosen WW1 woman for inspiration. The workshops are facilitated by either myself or Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, Brenda Read-Brown.

Yesterday I ran one of these workshops for Worcester Writers’ Circle at The Hive in Worcester. I really enjoyed working with the 7 poets who attended and was very pleased with the quality of the poems which emerged during the day.

On the morning of Thursday 16th June I’ll be running a similar workshop in Bewdley as part of Worcestershire Literary Festival. If you’re interested in attending, look out for further information http://worcslitfest.co.uk/

Here’s the feedback from yesterday’s session:

“Excellent workshop Heather, it has given me a new view and incentive to my poetry.”

“Thank you, Heather, for helping to clarify my muddle lines of poetry and for running such a productive and enjoyable workshop.”

“Smashing workshop – good original activities to describe and to “do” focusing the mind on specifics. Great facilitation and encouragement throughout.”

“The combination of the facilitator and the participants seemed to produce some magic from everyone. Thank you, Heather.”

“Very good & enjoyable. A catalyst for thought & further poems.”

“Thoroughly enjoyable session. Good direction; friendly, pertinent advice. We all produced a piece of work.”