Archives for posts with tag: National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day Event at NeST gallery, Barnard Castle

Forty people attended last night’s National Poetry Day Celebration at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle. Winning Words project lead Judith Lesley Marshall opened the evening with an overview of the Winning Words project and talked about how the initial proposal for a knitted poem had developed into a multi-faceted project. One of the strands was the delivery of Bronze Arts Awards to a group of teenagers from Turrets Youth Theatre Group. Members of the group were awarded Arts Award badges by Deborah Jenkins, the chair of Barnard Castle Vision CIC.

Anne Dauber read her poem ‘The Great Grey Barn’ which was shortlisted from fifty entries from across the North East. Textile artist Lone Helliwell then unveiled the textile/poetry installation which was inspired by Anne’s poem. She explained how the piece was assembled from a number of textile squares (using hooky, felting and applique techniques) produced by members of the public who attended workshops in Richmond, Darlington and Barnard Castle. Two of the squares chosen for inclusion in the installation were delivered to the gallery by people who participated remotely. The installation is on show in the gallery until the 14th October when it will be taken down to tour local village halls, business and community spaces. It will return to the gallery in February 2013. Legacy postcards of the poem and installation have been produced (for sale at 50p each) to raise funds for future poetry events.

Following a refreshment break, the audience then listened to a recording of the Renga Relay. This was an extra strand of the project, developed to engage 7-11 year olds in creating a chain poem. The first verse was supplied by Ian MacMillan who was kind enough to record the whole relay for us. The poem sounds like a race in itself and can be downloaded from Radio Teesdale’s Listen Again site. We are grateful to Ian for giving his time and voice to supporting this initiative for primary schools and junior writing groups in local libraries.

Continuing the theme of Japanese verse form, Bennett House Writers from Darlington completed the evening by reading a selection of Haiku and Tanka from their new anthology.

The project is now moving into the legacy stage. The next poetry event entitled Teesdale Poets:Past, Present and Future will be held at NeST gallery on Thursday 15th November at 7p.m. The evening will start with excerpts from the work of Richard Watson, (The Teesdale Bard) and a preview of the Richard Watson Trail due to open in 2013. Meg Peacocke will read a selection of work written since moving to Barnard Castle and there will be an open mic session for poems on a Teesdale theme. Tickets cost £5 and are available from the gallery in 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NG. Tel: 01833 695172 or E-mail:


Touring textile/poetry installationAnne Dauber and textile artist Lone Helliwell begin the Barnard Castle Winning Words legacy by launching the textile/poetry installation at NeST on Thursday 4th October at 7p.m. This will be the first opportunity for members of the public to view the artwork which was developed from Anne’s winning poem The Great Grey Barn. Postcards of the piece are available from NeST gallery in Newgate, priced at 50p each. Proceeds will be used to hold further poetry events in the community.

The installation will be on display at NeST gallery until Sunday 14th October. It will then begin a tour of village halls, business and community spaces as follows:

15th to 29th October – Butterknowle Village Hall

1st to 15th November – Woodleigh in Barnard Castle

17th November to 1st December – Egglestone Village Hall

20th December to 3rd January – Anthony Nixon Furniture, Barnard Castle

28th January to 11th February – Hamsterley Village Hall

If you would like to arrange to display the piece in your area, contact NeST gallery on

Telephone: 01833 695172 Mobile: 07413 101014

Textile/poetry installation

You are invited to attend a Celebration Event at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle on Thursday 4th October at 7p.m. The evening is a celebration of the Winning Words Beacon Town project. Anne Dauber, winner of the open poetry competition will read her poem the Great Grey Barn which inspired production of the community art installation. Textile artist Lone Helliwell will talk about the creation of the final piece, which will be on show at the gallery from the 4th to the 14th October. It will then commence a tour around the region. Tour details and legacy postcards will be available from the gallery as of the 4th October.

Other items on the agenda include presentation of Special Edition Bronze Arts Awards badges and certificates to members of Turrets Youth Theatre Group who submitted poetry/drama portfolios during 2012. The presentation will be made by Barnard Castle Vision CIC director Deborah Jenkins.

Following a break for refreshments we plan to play a recording of Ian MacMillan reading the Renga Relay which has been created by schools and libraries during the past 3 months.

The evening will end with a performance of haiku and tanka poetry by members of Bennett House Writers from Darlington. Copies of their new anthology will be on sale during the evening in addition to the range of pamphlets already available from the gallery.

This is a free event but we would be grateful if you could confirm attendance by e-mailing or phone project lead Judith Lesley Marshall on 07808 063944.

Renga Relay Poetry Batons

The Renga Relay poetry batons were created by children aged 7-11 who attended the summer writing workshops in Crown Street library, Darlington. Their verses and chorus have been woven into the Renga Relay which is being supported by Ian MacMillan.  Ian wrote the first stanza in the sequence for Barnard Castle’s Winning Words project back in June. The poem has been touring schools and libraries in the area since and is now back with Ian to add the finishing touches and hopefully record the entire relay which will be heard during the Celebration event at NeST on Thursday 4th October, National Poetry Day.

Renga Relay

pass on this great torch

through these streets paved with North’s gold:

pass it to your Mam …

chicken wire, flames, burning

greet crowds with Olympic cheer

nerves race, heart beating

pulse flies sky high rapidly

raise the flag of hope

everyone celebrates

a once in a lifetime chance

race now catch the torch

who will win bronze, silver, gold

London Twenty Twelve

now mam sprints like someone cool

for those who lost and who won

cheering supporters

encourage their favourites

to golden glory

14, 13, 25,

a hoard of bronze, silver, gold

football, basketball,

diving, racing, training hard

gold Olympic flame

we’re going to win, win, win,

we’re going for a medal

eyes on the finish

supporters’ shouts echo round

gold is oh so near

we’re going to win, win, win,

we’re going for a medal

record hero wow

medal winning podium first place

proud mind determined future

we’re going to win, win, win

we’re going for a medal

beat mum to the finish

I can win a gold medal

I win the medal

As the country’s paralympians start their quest to win a hoard of medals, our thanks go to the following people for participating in the Renga Relay:

Ian Macmillan, Turrets Youth Theatre Group, Key Stage 2 children from Forest of Teesdale Primary School, Montalbo Key Stage 2 Pupils, Heighington School Years 1 & 2, Butterknowle School Key Stage 2, Jenny Teale from Darlington, Crown Street library summer school participants: Sofia, Poppy, Annie, CharlotteT. and Charlotte S. who used the Winning Words Generator game to produce the poetry batons.










Olympic Shape Poetry

It was good to see poetry and literature feature in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympics. As the Crown Street library summer writing sessions come to a close we looked at the shapes hidden within photographs of Olympic events.  Circles, triangles and rectangles were the most common – in the rings, medals, clocks, torch, flames, and flags.

Participants selected one of these shapes and mindstormed lists of  words associated it.  Words were both themed and non-themed around sports. The circle proved to be the most inspirational shape to work with. Once the young people had gathered their lists of words, they shaped them into poems, then collaged them in a variety of ways as demonstrated in the photograph. One young lady set herself the challenge of creating a story cube out of her poem so that the lines are read out as numbers would be on the roll of a dice. I believe dad is helping with the final construction of that piece.

Poppy wrote Silver Glory

Shining bright

day and night

a silver disc

not the moon

throwing out light

around your neck.

The triangle shape reminded me of the Poetry Pod installations that are touring selected coastal locations around the country:

They sit in the field

waiting for nightfall.

As the sun dips

below the horizon

lights come on within.

Dimmed at first,

then brighter and brighter

until the field look like

ten thousand fireflies

have landed for the night.

Hopefully the work we have been doing with young people during this project will have ignited their creative sparks.

I look forward to hearing the final version of the Renga Relay which has been touring primary schools and libraries in the region, and to the presentation of Special Edition Bronze Arts Awards to young people of secondary school age who completed poetry/theatre portfolios as part of the Winning Words project. These are two of the items planned for a Celebration Evening at NeST on National Poetry Day.

Winning Words Poetry Anthology   This week we received a copy of the Winning Words poetry anthology produced by the Forward Arts Foundation and published by Faber as part of the cultural legacy to ensure the place of poetry both in the Olympic venues and across Britain.

William Sieghart, the founder of National Poetry Day and poet Wynn Wheldon compiled the anthology from a number of sources including poems selected by both themselves and the public.  The aim was to look for poetry which resonates with the Olympic values of: respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

This week we also received the good news that all the young people who submitted portfolios for Arts Awards have passed.  They will receive their badges and Special Bronze Edition certificates at the celebration event at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle on the 4th October, this year’s National Poetry Day.  Arts Awards have another set of values: creative challenge, credibility, forward-looking, personalised and responsive.

Poets both young and old continue to add their responses to the Renga Relay which is touring the region, reaching Bilsdale, Richmond and Darlington this week.  In the words of John Donne, a personal favourite, whose Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions is in the Winning Words anthology:

No man is an Island,entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main…’

If you would like to take part in the cultural Olympics and haven’t yet managed to do so, the Reading Agency is looking for poetry champions to read and review the Winning Words anthology.  They are working with six poetry reading groups around the country to blog about the Olympics and favourite poets/poems.  See


Gallery Image 1 from J.T. Kell


NeST gallery is looking for a textile artist to become involved in the Winning Words project that they are delivering on behalf of Barnard Castle Vision CIC.


Barnard Castle is one of the seven beacon towns for the cultural Olympics.

We are looking for artists to respond to the idea of interpreting the winning poem from the Open Poetry Competition into a 20″ x 20″ picture style art installation.

We welcome proposals from artists working in wool or textiles.  Artists are invited to draw inspiration for the art work from Barnard Castle’s history of sheep farming and textile production.  Where possible we would like artists to engage with the local wool shop and craft groups to design an installation which also reflects the Winning Words ethos of ‘carpeting the nation’ with poetry.

Please submit a proposal to deliver within a budget of £1,500.00, an artist’s statement with web links , if available, and up to five high resolution images to by Monday 30th April 2012.

Judith, who is the lead for this project, will be available to talk with interested artists during the Flower Power preview evening at the gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NG on Sunday 22nd April from 4-6p.m.

The successful artist will be engaged from June to September.  The installation will be launched with legacy postcards at a celebration event linked to National Poetry Day in October.  It will tour local village halls and community spaces before going on permanent display at NeST.

For further details about Winning Words see previous posts on this blog or