I’ve had such a lovely job this May! MediaActive and Arts Alive invited me to be Poet in Residence at Wem Town Hall – a place that is no ordinary town hall, but truly the hub of the community, providing a cafe, a market, a space for classes and meetings and celebrations. A big thank you to everyone at MediaActive and at Wem Town Hall who made me so welcome, made it all work, made me tea, and introduced me to the wonderful residents of Wem!
I started out by working with Wem Town Hall’s Meals on Wheels service. Due to Covid, I interviewed each of the service users by telephone, gathering stories and memories as we went along. Then I made a poem for each person, and on a sunny Friday, went round Wem with the van and delivered a poem with a lunch to each recipient!
I also interviewed Pam King, who manages the service and does her share of the cooking, and wrote a poem for the service itself – here’s an extract:
Meals on Wheels in Wem
are cooked from scratch
meat pasties made by hand
hot dinners straight from the kitchen
stacked neatly into the van
Noble Street, High Street, Mill Street
Drawwell Lane and Station Road
From the Treacle Mines to the Castle
Meals on Wheels will carry the load!
Another aspect of my residency has been to be a presence on the market – outdoors (on a very cold, wet May day)
And in the indoor market (much warmer!)
Here’s one of the poems I wrote after a morning on the indoor market, and a conversation with a lovely woman who’d moved to Wem from Wolverhampton…
Ode to Wem
O Wem in the ‘80s, when the policeman waited
outside the disco to walk our daughters
home along the street.
And then I saw that Wem
wasn’t like Wolverhampton so
I walked home on my own in the dark.
From the Castle then down Chapel Street
then Drawwell Lane then Mill Street
and it was dark and shadowy
and my heart was pounding under the trees
and I ran, and ran to our front door and
banged on the door and my husband
came out, he said what’s the matter? what’s the matter?
And I said I’ve walked home.