Progressive Poetry and a new festival in Yorkshire

I went to Cobbledy last week to listen to poets. There were many – around a hundred! A healthy turnout I would say. Mostly from Yorkshire.

I have much admiration for people who can stand up and perform their work, fill their poems with passion, expression and yes, make it poetry. The audience was cosy in both venues, a small group of people, keen to listen and  take part over the weekend. All very appreciative, all good listeners. It was really nice to see poetry alive and welcoming, It was good to hear empathy, anger, humour.

I couldn’t help but notice  that most of what I heard was nostalgic, reminiscent of old times – whether good or bad. So much was wonderfully working class – highly emotive, political – a blend of the mad, bad and funny.

I wondered if we were all hankering after a past which felt more empowering. It was, but only just. Our power was beginning to slide. We found ways to cling on to the good memories among the debris.

As I walked back down the cobbles I recalled the time spent in the old school room at parent and toddler group and how a few of us decided that something else was needed. We were a little bit forward thinking and created the very first under 5’s Woodcraft Folk group, hoping for a better way for our kids, an improved, progressive future.

What role does poetry have to play in our society today. I am always in search of the Fridas and Diegos. The artists who are not afraid of political expression. Over the weekend at this festival I heard such artists, unafraid to express their feelings, observations, experiences about the shafting of the working class, about racism, inequality and of course plenty of word play, clever twists and turns of lines.

Words are powerful. Poets know it. Be Frida. Be Diego.

What of futuristic poetry – it exists today. There was a movement in literature in the early part of the 20th century which started in Italy, all to do with futurism. We can create our kind in the 21st. The Brontes were futurists to, in their era, and their legacy still inspires us today.

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I wrote about this graveyard in The Book Ghosts. DSCF0482

Bronte Society News

Good news today from the Society! Dame Judy Dench is the new honorary president. I am very pleased to hear this and believe it bodes well for the organisation, along with a positive future of literary events about all things Bronte.

Having been a member since my return to West Yorkshire, I have thoroughly enjoyed going to  the Parsonage and Haworth to attend many things.

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Don’t miss  bicentenary celebrations for Charlotte this year. Exhibitions, events and residencies are being held in Haworth and around the UK.

Details can be found here: The Bronte Parsonage

Coming full-circle

It was always a special place to me. Somewhere I went as a young person, to walk and take in the atmosphere.

But they say there’s trouble in t’mill. It’s all to do with tradition versus modernity.

We can have both, can’t we. I like the Chinese interpretation in characters of passages from the Bronte novels.

The Parsonage itself is set in time. It exudes calmness and serenity.

Let me close the door she said so you can take a picture, it looks better. But you can’t take photos inside.

Artefacts and history sit in glass cabinets. Boards tell the story of each room.

The blues and greens of walls, stone floors and stairs, gentle curling banister and long case windows all remind me of a house I once lived in, in the same village.

But the real story wasn’t written on the walls. The one of disease – cholera, typhoid and tb. The life of the mill workers, the murky water which Mr Bronte fought to have cleaned for over a decade.

A graveyard full of children and young people. The Brontes faired well and lived longer because they had their own well. But they were blighted by a family illness – incurable.

Just 200 years ago, the process of the beginning of industrialisation was beginning on the Pennine ridge. This was not a romantic place.

Yet during that time, three sisters wrote stories which are  part of us today. Not just locally, nationally – but internationally too.

Everyone has found a way to fall in love with a Bronte tale. Women who wrote under male pseudonyms didn’t fool us for long.

So what’s stirring. Why the conflict. We can have both tradition and modernity.

I looked around and came away with a copy of Jane Eyre. I’m sending it to a friend in Europe with a letter. The old-fashioned way. I’ve sent her an email to say that it’s on its way.

Here’s my modern slant on the Parsonage and the Brontes:

The Parsonage – Kazumi (beautiful peace)

Emily Bronte – Akira (clear and intelligent)

Charlotte Bronte – Naoki (tree of truth)

Anne Bronte – Hisao (story of life)

I’d like to move back one day – I’m not far at the moment – just down the road. But I feel the need to walk the walks every morning and to have my muse, Charlotte, near by. Oh, and the crows of course. To finish my writing and editing on cobbled streets. To come full circle.

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