Friday, 30 October 2009

Poetry Day poems

This poem uses phrases and lines written by visitors at the Bronte Parsonage Museum to celebrate National Poetry Day 2009, based on words chosen from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. One or two of the phrases have been lightly edited. My thanks to everyone who participated - Katrina

Found Poem

From a stone-dark churchyard,
from this humiliation window,
the moors sobbed,
the devil struck and laughed.

Heathcliff kisses Cathy,
who is the servant or master?
Her mute gaze is mine:
master, stagger my love.

Rain and snow kisses your face,
my heart is willingly the servant.
Small dream, dare to dream,
let good hearts hope:

pocket my heaven,
my key is love and light.

Katrina Naomi

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Katrina Naomi and National Poetry Day

The Parsonage is very delighted to welcome Katrina Naomi as our first Writer in Residence. She will be visiting the museum over the next few months and working with the collections, staff, visitors and community groups to create her own new work in response to the Parsonage but also to inspire others in different ways to start writing. Her first event takes place at the museum today, where she is inviting visitors to follow a poetry trail in the museum and write responses to questions along the route. In the exhibition room, visitors are invited to join in some 'Bronte fridge magnet poetry' - words taken from Wuthering Heights are turned in to new abstract lines, as silly or serious as people wish...

To those of you who joined in today, thank you, and you'll be able to follow the progress of Katrina's residency on this site, and perhaps see some of your own lines take shape in her poetry too! Some of the lines from the day will be posted up soon.

About Katrina:
Katrina Naomi is originally from Margate and now lives in London. Her first full collection, The Girl With the Cactus Handshake, will be published in October 2009. She won the 2008 Templar Poetry Competition and her pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant and Castle was published later that year. She has received an Arts Council England writer's award and a Hawthornden Fellowship, and has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. Katrina is also a lecturer in creative writing for the Open University.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Poetry Day - The Parsonage 'Up Close'

Poets Jane Commane and Char March ran a poetry day at the museum on Friday 21 August, capturing poetic responses from a wide range of visitors. On arrival at the museum, visitors were given a poetry pack with prompts for each of the various rooms and a magnifying glass with which they could investigate forgotten areas of the Parsonage, looking for marks in the building's fabric or traces left by it's inhabitants. Jane and Char then worked with visitors to record some of these observations and work them into new poems at the end of the day. They also helped visitors to create their own Bronte-style little books filled with memories of their visit.

Jane and Char are still working on their poems, but these are just a couple of their responses, inspired by comments from the public, at the end of a vibrant and busy day at the museum:

Everything so small -
rooms alone, piano playing
red revealed under treacly floorboards
red with blue in decadent needlework
(yet very plain indeed).

So small these beds -
him, her, feet, figures and those hands
leaving bobbin and thread and china with tea gone cold,
instead cracking the spine of a journal
beige paper's sparkle for beyond.

So small this practiced hand -
this ink echo, though it spills out
for the expanse of the moors beyond
heroic travels for the islanders
in a chest-of-drawers ship on rag-rug seas

So small these rooms -
and modest enough for the imaginings
cast into the heather's lonesome stretch
beyond the wallpaper's blooms,
candle-lit, dancing up and down the walls,

and so small these -
the spectacles and needlework
when lost out on the moors
and these many eyes
and those two sets of eyes

Everything so small -
but the vastness of the echo
sings in the whispers of rain and wind

- Jane Commane -

This Home is a Well-Worn Book
Covers creased with handgrime,
soot, dog-hair - corners
turned down lovingly. That familiar
creak on the stair, turn
of the clock's key, slide
of the sash to shut out
the owl-talk, close smoke
and that call from the moor.

- Char March -

Weren't their lives all about death?
Well, that graveyard's a spit from the window
(poor Tabby has only moved over the wall),

so it lived within, around, about,
a funny sort of neighbour with a habit
of intruding often and uninvited,

making themselves at home, taking a chill
off the fire, in the bed, taking their fill
in the first fevers and fit-starts of discomfort

But no, death was all about their lives,
so the urge was to throw open the window
that's gone stiff and easeless through winter,

spring coming let outside-in, and to move with it,
to prove and test the tight path through the heather
and scrub that's been given you to walk,

to use the hours to un-blank the pages -
that's the triumph, the photo finish
in the breakneck race of life versus

that old scarecrow neighbour

in the churchyard that overflows the watercourse with corpses.

- Jane Commane -

This House is a Looking-glass
the sisters only just out
of the reflection.
The stone floors grained with
sermons and laudanum,
Byronic heroes and moor-peat
off their soles.
Their souls laying down layers
of passion in tiny careful script
the insect-pens scrabbling
from their hive-brain.

- Char March -

More poems and photos from the day to follow soon....

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Poetry Day - Tuesday 11 August 2009

Poets Sarah Hymas and Sue Wood ran a successful creative writing day at the museum. They offered simple creative writing activities for visitors and families. Lines from poems by Yorkshire women writers such as Gaia Holmes, Sylvia Plath and Helen Dunmore were placed as text installations around the museum to get visitors thinking. At the end of their tour they could take some museum objects as inspiration for their own writing, or a more challenging activity was to pluck a lucky dip of a line of poetry from a top hat, choose a location in the museum, and see what creative ideas flowed. Here are some of the responses:

It's all black, then I saw upon your face hope and inspiration - Anon


She's a one she is

No laker

I keep them away

To me she gives

the morsel from her finger.

To me. - Anna Clarkson

A cough made the guitar quake

in the corner of the room. - Hayano Mimei

The light entices her to feel no fear but the love of others who will soon hold her in their hearts forever - Saime Higson for Sarah

My dog Keeper and I stroll through the Yorkshire moors. The dew on the grass shines down on the ground. Suddenly Keeper growls. He senses danger. As fast as lightening he falls deep into the shadowy dark hole of hunters. He's hurt. He tries desperately to look fierce but when you look into those deep brown eyes of his, you can see the fear and softness in his eyes. I must go and get help. - Roisin Daly, age 10

When my ears drink the sounds and the soul flies away life becomes lighter and art finds its way to the page - Noam Taylor, Israel

Those who would dream, waste not their hour, they ride the unicorn, a cause the night to flower knowing full well reality has bars. They dream their silver dreams and salt the universe with many jeweled stars. Gerald Richards, Australia

6 o'Clock in the morning I was sent to get some breakfast it was cold in the kitchen so I had to wear a thick dress. Isabella, age 7.

The Dining Room

As I sit here in the dining room, I wish the colours could be echoed in the kitchen, the monotonous chores would then be more fun! - Anon

The shoe is extremely tiny and very narrow. It has a hard wooden sole which I imagine would be very uncomfortable. The upper shoe is made of leather and has a pointed toe. All around the side of the shoe are little spots of brass that look like little jems. The buckles are again made of brass and are very delicate, and also have a pretty pattern. These shoes are so different to our shoes now. By Lorna Coldwell.

Sarah and Sue also performed impromptu readings of poems by the Brontes, the poems by Yorkshire women writers exhibited in the museum and their own work.
Sarah Hymas lives in Lancaster and loves to collaborate with other writers and artists. Her work has appeared in single collections, anthologies, magazines, multimedia exhibits, dance videos, improvised operas and on stage. Her first collection of poetry, Host, is due out in winter 2009.
Sue Wood has lived in Halifax for the past twenty years. She has run creative writing sessions at the Parsonage and out in the community with people from the age of seven to eighty and beyond. She recently won a Cinnamon Press award for Poetry and had her first collection Imagine yourself to be water published.

Getting started...

The Bronte Parsonage Museum has received funding to develop a series of projects that celebrate and showcase women's writing, as part of a vibrant contemporary arts programme that already exists at the museum. The Brontes were pioneering women writers and we hope that this project will enable a variety of writers, readers and visitors, to explore the museum, the Brontes and their work in new ways, but also to inspire new responses and creativity. There will be event days at the museum, as well as readings by prominent and emerging women writers (which will hopefully be podcasted on this site) and a writer in residence who will create a special project for teenage girls in the local community. All the events will be recorded here on this blog...