On Saturday 19th July, Jean Atkin organised the Poem for the Farm Event at Acton Scott Farm to mark the end of her residency. I was lucky enough to manage to get to a workshop she facilitated there earlier in the year (June) and was delighted to be invited back to read my farm poems.
If Acton Scott Historic Farm sounds familiar, you may have been watching Victorian Farm, the programme was made there.
The long drive up to Shropshire was worth every minute and the journey wasn’t too bad (considering the summer sunshine disappeared for a day and we had rain and even a storm once we had all settled in the barn) – as I have just mentioned we were all undercover.
Before the event Jean reflected on her residency at the farm, this is what she had to say;
‘Just been counting up, nostalgically, how many poems people really did write for Acton Scott Museum during my residency. Which finishes this Saturday with its Last Hurrah, our cream-tea-fuelled Poems for the Farm event. I am actually quit…e staggered to report that children, adults, indeed poets from all over the place wrote a total of 87 poems since Easter. Some are on The Poetry Fence, some are in the Hut, lots are in blog posts, some were emailed from as far away as Canada, USA, India… This does make me happy.’
My own input to this project/ residency started with a short poem on the Poetry Fence, which I performed on Saturday, published on Jean’s Farm website/ blog and displayed on the poetry fence, it was written about this little fella… the half and half pig, hybrid breeds aren’t usually so literally represented.
40 poets came to share or listen to poetry inspired by the farm. It was a great event and we were able to indulge in some of the best cream teas – if you visit, don’t forget to go to the Old School, now a café for a cream tea of your own. We listened to each other’s farm poetry and watched a slideshow of Andrew’s animal shots whilst listening to Jean perform her poems in the dark. It was a really friendly atmosphere and a supportive audience too.
I literally got there just in time and the table of people I knew was already full, there were people I wanted to talk to on that table that I never really had a chance to talk to at length, but it meant that I met more people and Steve Harrison sat with me, he had just won the Ledbury Poetry Slam, pipping Catherine Crosswell to the post, he was very modest about it. It was his first slam, he is a great poet and I am always entertained watching him, he was joking about needing to learn his farm poem (the fence poems were 6 lines maximum) and obviously he had learnt his set for the slam.
Here are some photographs of the event © Jean Atkin & Nadia Kingsley 2014
Adrian Perks reads: I sink into the hammock by the haystack./ This is the life.
Andrew Fusek Peters Colin Fletcher reads ‘Thomas Acton’s Winged Collar’. Nadia Kingsley reads: ‘He turns his head – a Shakespeare
mask: too large, too monstrous – his body is far, far, far too long, which makes me think, that it is his legs
that are short, all wrong,
Steve Harrison (who’s just won the Slam at Ledbury Poetry Festival!) and remembered all his words!reads:
Not plugged into cells,
nor stacked in towers.
pecking, preening, just solar-powered.
Here I am reading my two farm poems. The Cart poem has now been published on Jean Atkin’s blog along with Meg Cox’s Farm Poem.
This shot also shows Andrew‘s very impressive piece of kit, he spent some time in the early hours with Jean taking photos – the animals thought they were being brought breakfast! The barn had an exhibition of photography by Andrew Fusek Peters and Jean’s poetry, they plan to exhibit them around the County – so if you get a chance go and see them, they are beautiful and very inspiring. Andrew is not only a talented writer but shoots fantastic (that doesn’t give it enough justice) photography, a real delight, a master of capturing the exact split second of motion or stillness. He was selling his artwork and I was very tempted, unfortunately I had only taken book money with me. I did manage to buy his book ‘Dip’ that I have been after since I met him at the Wenlock Poetry Festival, back in April. Wishes do come true, keep asking!
When my writing schedule has calmed down (I am currently working on poetry, a monologue and some short stories!) I plan to revisit Andrew’s photography and write some poems of my own. I also have several pages of notes from Jean’s workshop to develop into poems and shots of my own taken on my day at the farm, to create more poetry from.
Other poets involved in this event were; Mike turner – read his son’s poem – Oliver aged 15, Liz Roberts, Helen Paris, Meg Cox, Julia Dean Richards, Jacob, Frank, Peter Holliday, and Paul Francis.
We have all been lucky to know Jean and for her to have involved so many people in her 3 month residency is impressive. Taking poetry to the people on the farm. Poet’s are lucky to be given a residency, it is wonderful when the setting suits the poet as well as it did here. Jean loved her time on the farm and the impact she and her poetry residency have made will continue to linger I am sure.
A link to Jean Atkin’s Farm Poetry Blog and write up of the event here