Working with Andrew Fusek Peters

It’s been a real joy to work with photographer, poet and writer Andrew Fusek Peters during my residency at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm.

Poet on the Farm

 Goose Eye © Andrew Fusek Peters Goose Eye © Andrew Fusek Peters

‘…and then the first goose
rouses, behind their gate in the wall –
she calls, yammers, and like fires

they catch and cackle.  They wake
the very stones.  They fluff
their feathers, unbend their necks…’

Last week I drove up to Acton Scott on empty roads to meet photographer poet Andrew Fusek Peters at 7am.  The early morning birdsong was the loudest thing in the landscape as we walked onto the farm before anyone else arrived.

The idea was that Andrew would take photographs while I wrote, and that we’ll collaborate on whatever we produce.

The still loveliness of Acton Scott on an early summer morning was marvellous.  Low sun lit the soft brick of the 18th century farmyard.

Acton S early morning 029 The cade lambs calling for their breakfasts

We woke the geese as we walked into the yard – Merle (the stockwoman) told me they’ve…

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Godmothers, Emptiness and Adventures before Breakfast

Once a month I work with a great group of young writers in Kidderminster through Writing West Midlands’ Write On! Young Writers’ Groups.  Each is led by a professional Lead Writer working with an Assistant Writer. Write On! Young Writers’ groups give young writers the opportunity to share and develop their writing in small, friendly groups. Members from Young Writers have shared their work at the Birmingham Literature FestivalLedbury Poetry FestivalCoventry Mysteries and Wenlock Poetry Festival.  

Here’s members of my Write On! group sharing their inventive flash fiction through the medium of handmade books… unexplained witnesses, unnamed heroes, godmothers, telegrams, empty landscapes and adventures before breakfast.  So much fun was had.

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A Poetry Workshop for a Science Festival

On Saturday I travelled up to Scotland to be Poet in Residence for the day for Dumfries &
Galloway Science Festival.  This year their theme was a celebration of the work of James Clerk Maxwell, mathematical physicist and versatile polymath, who observed for the first time that electrical fields anPaper Boat Poems workshop 1d magnetic fields can couple together to form electromagnetic waves.























I set up a drop-in workshop to introduce James Clerk Maxwell and his work to young children at the Festival.  They were provided with a scientific vocabulary, and paper boats, and a tank of water.  Some children made their own boats with me, some chose boats ‘made earlier’.  They selected words that appealed to them from my battered ‘sailor’s mess plate’, and with more or less support from me, wrote a short poem which they then transferred onto their boat, in various creative ways.

Paper Boat Poems workshop 7 Paper Boat Poems workshop 6

We observed that you can read a boat in many more and different ways than you read a conventional book…

It was great fun.

And watching the children ‘launch’ their boats on the tank of water was just priceless.Paper Boat Poems workshop 3 Paper Boat Poems workshop 15

‘I tickled his face/ he bumped me on the nose’: how to feed a bottle lamb

My most recent day at Acton Scott. The Poetry Fence grows longer, we feed the lambs and write poetry with a switched-on 3 year old…

Poet on the Farm

Here’s the Poetry Fence, after I’d added another ten poems sent to me over the weekend.  It does look rather beautiful.

The Poetry Fence sunshine

Then I followed Rob, the bailiff, on his rounds, and learned how the brick farmyard at Acton Scott was built purposely in the late 18th century as a model farm.  I waved a wooden flail to appreciate, instantly, the value of mechanisation, and learned how the horse gin has an underground shaft which runs a flywheel and belts in the threshing barn.  It’s still in use, and eleven people have to be there to operate it effectively.

Cade lambs & hen

Here are the cade lambs waiting to be bottle-fed, and a Silver Dorking preening herself on a bale.  After the feeding I had a great time writing a poem about it with Lucy, who was three and three quarters.  She was very articulate and bright as a button.  I scribed her thoughts…

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