Archives for posts with tag: Renga

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:


Winning Words    The latest development in the Barnard Castle Winning Words poetry project for the cultural Olympics is a Renga Relay.  We are grateful to poet Ian MacMillan for providing the opening stanza for the relay which reads:

Pass on this great torch

through these streets paved with North’s gold:

pass it to your Mam …

Pupils from local primary schools have been busy using the Generator game to add further verses to the relay which will be continued by library and writing groups throughout the summer.

Renga is a traditional Japanese ‘linked poem’.  The idea began more than seven hundred years ago in order to encourage poets to work together to produce collaborative compositions.  A typical Renga consists of alternating three-line and two-line stanzas linked together on a theme.  Our theme is the Olympics.

Three-line stanzas follow the traditional haiku pattern of 5, 7 and 5 syllables while the two-line stanzas each contain 7 syllables.

Whereas the language used usually incorporates images associated with seasons, nature and love, we have given participants the freedom to incorporate their own words and images around the theme.

Feedback so far is positive.  Pupils have enjoyed working together to write poetry and are particularly keen on using the generator to produce words.

The relay continues until the end of September when Ian MacMillan will provide the closing stanza.  The whole will be read out during a celebration event at NeST gallery, Barnard Castle on Thursday 4th October, National Poetry Day.

We hope that the poem will be at least thirty six lines long by that time as this is the stipulated length for a Kasen.  If you would like to take part in this poetry relay, e-mail your details to project lead Judith Lesley Marshall via