WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
People who moan about the insignificant things!
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
New Poems on the Trail
Drums between the Bells – Brian Eno with words by Rick Holland.
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
Last Friday saw the official unveiling of Burnt Sunlight, the much anticipated sculpture on the coal tip mound at Pooley Country Park. I and several of the other Poets Trail poets were invited to meet the artists and to provide readings of two of the poems from the new poems for the poets trail.
The sculpture on the mound was created by internationally renowned artists Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion who are based in Dundee. They spent many days at Pooley, engaging with the place and the people
The sculpture is a wonderful golden tower of birch leaves, stacked up to 45 feet on top of the coal tip mound anchored down to a concrete foundation. Encapsulating the genius loci of Pooley Country Park, displaying its natural and human ancestry.
BURNT SUNLIGHT – THE SPIRIT OF PLACE.
It is a golden gnomon that marks time on the face of the mound top, an industrial sized sundial that measures the passage not in hours and minutes or even days, months or years – but in centuries and millennia.
It stands as if it were the fossilized remains of sunlight, as a golden beam that shines the remnants of the solar rays that nurtured the carboniferous forest, as if it has always been there and we have excavated and removed the surrounding rocks to reveal its beautiful presence.
It is as if the coal pit shaft has opened up and the light from the burnt sun is escaping back into the universe, recycled light that salutes the star that sustains our earth.
It is the trunk of a lopped off Lepidodendron. The architecture of crushing tectonic pressure that forced the buried vestiges of the ancient leaves and high, bark bearing branches into fire.
It stands like a three dimensional wall chart of geological strata. The strata of the fire clays, sandstones, limestones and coals, all layered as they were lain down in the brutal sculpting of our delicate world.
It represents the mine shaft, where cages were lowered to bring the black gold to our hearths and furnaces. It signals the fruitfulness of human endeavour, remembers the industriousness of our fore-fathers, itself cast of furnace fire, the fruit of artistic minds, artisan skills and crafted apprenticeships.
It is the birch leaf, the primary coloniser that sees Pooley Park constantly renegotiating the border between industry and nature. It is the nutrient soil, the mulch of mosses and grasses.
Despite its solid, sturdiness it displays a precious fragility, it wakes you to the reality that times change and we should never hold an arrogance that suggests we understand everything.
It is, It is…………..To me, it is, all of these things.
I congratulate, Matthew and Louise on capturing in this gold column of leaf light, a perfect three dimensional, visual poem that shouts quietly of the spirit of place that is Pooley.
It is a landmark that says things happen here; things we want to remember; things we want to think about.
You can see the other work of Matthew and Louise at:
Pooley on Friday offered another delight as five of the new poems on the Poets Trail have been installed. The installations are made of Oak with the poems printed on to metal, each with a design to enhance and help interpret the poem.
Barry Hunt’s poem the Pooley Miners’ tale is located by the wind turbine and incorporates a hand written musical score that gives it the idea of a folksong and also reflects Barry as a musician and songwriter.
Janis Kind’s poem Aloft which she read wonderfully at the launch at the top of the mound, it is located where the footpaths part at the base of the mound. The design incorporates a fossilized feather as the buzzard is immortalised in her words.
Further down the path to the Nature Reserve is Terri Jolland’s poem the Ladies of the Woods, with its images of silver birch trees and blue bells that so delighted her.
Heading further down into the nature reserve between the two pools, on the right is Jacqui Rowe’s poem – Black Swan Possibility which has the image of a black swan – its head bent down to read the words.
The fifth poem that has been installed is my Kite poem, which was created from the collaboration that I did with the children from Birchwood Primary School and is located in the children’s playground.
More of the poems will be installed in the coming weeks and I will keep you informed through this blog.
Saturday saw us venture to Snibston to the performance of the Pitman Poets. Due to a confusion over the starting time we were there an hour early and I am glad that we were, because as the audience arrived it was apparent that their were several folk singers who tour the thriving folk scene of Leicestershire (in October and November there are up to five different folk clubs that meet every night of the week).
At 7:00pm that started a sing in, in the bar, voices that told tales of lost loves and travelling, but the songs that resonated with their pitch perfect harmonies were the mining songs of community, danger and comradeship – the unity songs from the Miners Galas. These powerful stirring songs which alas are no longer sung by working miners following the pit closures in the 80’s and 90’s are kept alive by a new community of folk singers. Absolutely wonderful. I am so glad we didn’t miss it and I only wish I knew the words to be able to join in. There was also a notable performance of a song from a Mother and her two teenage daughters, a song, that again I am not sure of the title, they were joined in a harmonious chorus by the rest of the group. I pity the people who stayed in to watch the X Factor, because being with the singers and musicians from the Leicestershire folk scene was where the real music was on Saturday night.
The Pitmen poets, Billy Mitchell, Bob Fox, Benny Graham and Jez Lowe, did not disappoint either, singing the songs of my lost poet Tommy Armstrong, plus those of other North East songwriters mixed in with their own songs and comic banter. This was set to a background of the harmonious folk singers from Leicestershire who joined in at each chorus.
There were songs of loss and protest, notably Tommy Armstrong’s – South Medomsley Pit Strike. Comic songs about Stanley Market and a flood at Stanley which was perhaps over exaggerated by Tommy.
Jez Lowe performed two of his very poignant songs – The Last of Widows, that told of the death of the last widow of a 1950s mining disaster and how she was now reunited with her young mining man. The Judas Bus told of the miners who did not strike in the 1980’s and continued to work travelling into the pits each day on armoured busses. An act that had repercussions, an act that split communities and close knit families.
Billy Mitchell, once the lead singer with Lindisfarne, performed songs about his mining roots – The Devil’s Ground and Shiftin to the Toon.
It was a fantastic musically evening of songs, which I bought on CD after the show and then got the Pitman Poets to sign them. It was great to hear Tommy’s songs, sung in his dialect and accent giving me a mass of ideas for the GRAFT project, which includes Tommy as one of the poets providing the inspiration along with Ann Moss and Alfred Williams.
Links for the Pitman Poets
Link for Leicester Folk Scene
It is National Poetry Day this week on Thursday 6th and whilst I am not reading on the day – I do have two other readings, which I will remind you of:
Tuesday 4th Oct 8:00pm – Night Blue Fruit at Taylor John’s House, Coventry with guest poets Janet Smith and David Calcutt – Bar and Open Mic – Free Entry.
Saturday 8th Oct – 100000 Poets for change event at Bloxwich Library Theatre, Walsall
Also To mark National Poetry Day on Thursday, 6th October, there will be a reading of John Clare’s poetry and other writing in front of All Saints Church, Northampton (it has a portico!) at 7pm. John Clare lived much of his life around Northampton and is one of my lost poets – see blog post 13th June 2011.
Birmingham Book Festival also starts on Thursday with a packed programme of events – see the website for details.
I will have another lost poet next week
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
4th Oct Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s House Coventry.
Guest Poets Janet Smith and David Calcutt.
8th Oct – 100000 Poets for Change – Bloxwich Library Theatre.
14th Oct – Spoken Worlds Burton.
24th Oct – Shindig, Leicester.– I will be guest poet at this event.
The next Fizz is on THURSDAY 3rd November at the TYTHE BARN in Polesworth when we will have as our guest poets Afric McGlinchey, Colm Scully and Jennifer Matthews from CORK in Ireland.
Please note that this is a change of day and location from the normal Fizz events.