Archives for the month of: May, 2012

School teachers from Darlington, County Durham and Teesdale attended the first Generator Training session at Teesdale School last week.  Poet Jeff Price facilitated the session in the school’s I.T. Suite.  Jeff gave an introductory talk on the theory and philosophy behind the Generator, the Winning Words interactive online poetry bank, covering topics such as shape poetry and haiku.  Teachers were then given the opportunity to try the Generator out for themselves and discussed how to incorporate use of the system within their own classroom settings.

Comments from participants include: ‘I will use the Generator – starting this week, with children in my class.  It’s especially good, I think, for the less able children, but I like the facility for more confident children to add their own words.’

‘Practical ideas to take back into the classroom.  Good to be able to have a go.’

‘Definitely a new approach to try in the classroom.  Programme easy to use’.

The next training session is scheduled for Wednesday 13th June from 4-5.30p.m.

On this occasion, Jeff will cover Rap Battles and Performance Poetry as well as giving teachers the opportunity to create their own original Olympic verse using the Generator.

The venue is Teesdale School, Prospect Place, Barnard Castle, DL12 8HH

Places are free and can be booked in advance through project lead Judith Lesley Marshall via or tel: 07808 063944

Schools participating in Generator training will be invited to take part in a Renga Relay from the 20th June to the 4th October.  The final Renga will be read during a Winning Words/ National Poetry Day celebration event at NeST gallery, Barnard Castle on Thursday 4th October at 7p.m.

During the summer both Barnard Castle and Darlington libraries will be running Olympic-themed writing sessions for 7-11 year olds.  These will complement the library services’ summer reading challenge.


Generator Training at Teesdale School with Jeff Price


Textile artist Lone Helliwell meets poet Anne Dauber

Textile artist Lone Helliwell met poet Anne Dauber recently to discuss the format for the Olympic Textile Art Workshops.

Anne has supplied photographs of the barn and area that inspired her poem the Great Grey Barn.

Participants will be invited to use both these and words from the poem to inspire their own work.

Lone has set up a series of 2 hour sessions during which people will be invited to create 5″ squares using a variety of textile techniques.

The following dates are for workshops held at NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle.

Tuesday 12th June 1.30 – 3.30p.m.

Friday 15th June 2 – 4p.m.

Friday 13th July 2 – 4p.m.

To book a place e-mail: or tel: 07413 101014

People wishing to submit textile squares without attending workshops can do so by sending them together with name, address and contact details to:

Judith Lesley Marshall, Winning Words Textile Installation, c/o  NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NG by Saturday 21st July 2012.

Remember to include brief information about the techniques used and the parts of the poem depicted in the square.  All squares will be considered for inclusion in the final installation which will tour village halls and community spaces as of October 2012.

For those of you who missed the poem first time round, please read on:

The great grey barn where the cows once lived

lies empty now.

Straw abandoned like

an unmade bed,

the hollow which was, for those blackened months, their Winter womb

lies cold.


I passed your barn

every day and saw your bovine stare,

snug within the parameters of your stone house,

high pillows of dense packed snow.


Monochrome scene from the window,

hills creased by rocks

full stopping the landscape.

My eyes rest on the hush and linger.

Desolate, dank.  Lie still.  No rush.

But the Winter comes and goes, as it pleases.


High on the hills now

dawdling away the afternoon

their great backsides

sodden, slapped

with the soil from a sepia Winter


Your faces staring back through the grills on the broad gate

crushing the cud, your insolent eyes watching me shiver.


Now, I idly watch at you from my kitchen window

while you come to visit, calf in tow,

eyes wide with looking at

the machinery of my life

and all that I need, just to be able to eat.

While you chew in my face,

rubbing it in.

The nettles around your hooves flattened

as you tread between

the saucers of marsh marigold.


I am glad.


Cow in the Great Grey Barn

It’s a while since I’ve mentioned what the Turrets Group have been up to for their Special Olympic Edition Bronze Arts Award.  Each week they have an hour to an hour and a half of poetry related skills followed by the equivalent time of theatrical activities.

In the poetry sessions over the last few weeks they have shared favourite songs and poems, worked on alpha and acrostic poetry, researched arts heroes/heroines, identified skills to share with younger members of Turrets, and produced free verse based on sports objects.

Sports kit bag

The young people had so much fun with the Sports Kit bag exercise that they would like to share that idea with you.

First assemble a number of sports related object in a kit bag.

Ask members of your class/group to select an object from the bag without looking.

Ask them to think about how this object feels, smells, hears, looks and possibly even tastes!

Note down what thoughts it would have about taking part in sports practice or Olympic events.

Write a poem in free verse from the point of view of the object.

Examples of this type of poem and other sources of inspiration can be found at  Go to poems in the classroom, click ‘here to play’, secondary, imaginative voice, over to you, free verse.

In the meantime, Liam Samson would like you to read this poem inspired by the jogger’s key ring:

The Key Ring

I am a key ring, I do not see a thing.

When the crowd cheers, I can hear.

When the athletes are proud and the audience are loud I can hear every sound.

I improve a key for only the athlete to see.

When the games are over I slumber for a number of four years.

When I’m back I finally act the proud decoration I was meant to be.

The Turrets group will be performing examples of their Dickens inspired poetry at NeST gallery on Wednesday 20th June, the day the Olympic torch passes through the town.  Tickets for the performance which starts at 7p.m. cost £2 and are available either from Jill Cole or NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NG.  Tel: 07413 101014

Textile artist Lone Helliwell has been appointed to work with community groups in Barnard Castle and Teesdale to create a textile art installation for the Winning Words project.

Lone, whose mother was a tailoress and father a costume master for the Royal Danish ballet, will involve local people in converting Anne Dauber’s winning poem The Great Grey Barn into a picture style wall hanging.

The Great Grey Barn

Lone has many years of experience as a facilitating artist, working on large community textile projects as well as gaining a reputation for designing bespoke soft furnishings for both hotels and country houses.

The finished piece will be about 20″ square and made up of smaller sections.  Each square will depict part of the poem using different textile techniques such as knitting, felting, applique, weaving, clippy/hook rug methods and embroidery.

Lone will source locally spun wool for the project and dye it to the colours required.  Woodworker and husban Chris is providing large hand-turned knitting needles for the occasion.

Hand-turned needles

A greater number of pieces will be made and the sixteen most appropriate ones will be assembled to create the art installation.  This will be launched at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle on National Poetry Day before going on tour around local village halls, businesses and community spaces.

Drop-in sessions at NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NG will be held on Tuesday 12th June 1.30-3.30p.m., Friday 15th June and 13th July from 2-4p.m.

These sessions are free of charge and open to all ages and abilities.

Individuals and groups wishing to take part in the project, either to learn new skills or practice existing ones should contact project lead Judith Lesley Marshall via or mobile 07413 101014.

Anne Dauber: Winning Poet

Anne Dauber: Winning Poet

I am delighted to announce that Anne Dauber is the winner of Barnard Castle’s Winning Words Open Poetry Competition.

Anne’s poem The Great Grey Barn will be transformed into a textile art installation, which will be on view in NeST art gallery in Barnard Castle in October before commencing a tour of local village halls.

Anne lives in Upper Teesdale, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which she says: ‘can be just that or can leave you longing for the city, or even village life.  Sometimes, when we are snowed in, the cows provide much needed social interaction!’

The judges liked the way that the poem explores the connections and disconnections between human life and the natural world, and also the way it evoked the feeling of hope coming out of a desolate winter.

Anne’s poem was selected from the fifty entries from across County Durham, Redcar & Cleveland and North Yorkshire.  The runner-up It was the best of times it was the worst of times by Elaine Walton of Richmond in North Yorkshire is described as: ‘a very moving piece which both touches and uplifts the reader at the same time.’

Highly commended goes to Life’s Cycle by Malcolm Weet of Middleton-in-Teesdale and It was the best of times by Fiona Todd of Teesdale School.

Also commended are:

One day like this a year by Lesley Chapman of Askrigg, North Yorkshire

Barney by Linda Conroy of Richmond, North Yorkshire

Time Travel by Courtney Earl of Winston, Darlington

Best of Times, Worst of Times by Jackie Fallows of South Otterington, Northallerton

Bestime, Werstime by Meg Peacocke of Barnard Castle

Napoleon by Elizabeth Smith of Tewkesbury

My 2012 by Rachel Todd of Teesdale School

Apparently Elizabeth found out about the competition as she is a former Bowes resident who still reads The Teesdale Mercury!  Thanks go to the local newspaper for supporting the competition.

All of the above and The Great Grey Barn are available for readers to view on the two previous posts.  Radio Teesdale have offered all shortlisted poets the opportunity to record their poems for a future edition of the Book programme.