Poetry awards to be held later in year

The descendants of William Wordsworth have postponed the planned award ceremony and prizegiving for young poets in Cumbria.

They have been thrilled with the number – and quality – of poems submitted from schools across the county for this eighth annual event.

Youngsters were asked to write poems on the subject of “Milestones” to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth.

The young poets, their parents and teachers were due to attend an award ceremony at Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home, in May.

Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet’s great great great great grandson, has written to all who submitted their work to explain that the winners will be announced at a postponed ceremony later in the year. The house has now been closed to the public during the current health crisis.

“We always love welcoming the young writers and their families for the presentation ceremony,” he said. “We are very impressed with the standard of entries sent in this year and we look forward to meeting all the young poets in happier times.”

chris and pupils from furness

Christopher with young poets at a previous award ceremony

A welcome into Wordsworth’s home

Visitors love coming to look around the house and gardens at Rydal Mount.

But this year we have special events planned that will allow you to come and spend time in the house, listen to talks, and even do some work of your own here.

garden in autumn

Next month we launch a series of informative talks and discussions, starting with Muriel Strachan who returns on April 14 returns to talk about Wordsworth’s children. She will explore the lives of his children and how growing up with the Poet as their father shaped his surviving children’s evolution as adults. Her son, Professor John Strachan, will discuss Wordsworth’s Family Memorials – the elegiac verse for the children.

Book here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wordsworths-children-tickets-82987667347

On May 24 we welcome Dr Jessica Fay who will look at the fascinating discourse between William Wordsworth and Sir George Beaumont about aspects of culture and creativity. Wordsworth is more often associated with rural folk and the Lakeland fells than with polite society and picture galleries but he described his friendship with Sir George Beaumont as one of the ‘blessings’ of his life.

Beaumont was an artist, patron, and co-founder of the National Gallery; for almost 25 years, he and Wordsworth exchanged ideas about poetry, painting, exhibitions, the theatre, and gardening. This talk will explore some of the ways they influenced each other and introduce paintings Beaumont produced to accompany Wordsworth’s poetry.

Rydal Mount

The White Doe, by Beaumont, which inspired Wordsworth’s poem

Dr Fay is the editor of The Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to William and Dorothy Wordsworth (2021) and author of Wordsworth’s Monastic Inheritance: Poetry, Place, and the Sense of Community (2018).

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wordsworth-sir-george-beaumont-an-interchange-of-knowledge-delight-tickets-84603580587?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

And for a hands-on experience, workshops in using an unusual photographic technique involving tea and red wine are to be held here at the house. Award-winning photographer Chris Routledge will teach sessions in the process of cyanotype photo printing. And the workshops are open to all, novice and expert camera users.

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Example of cyanotype

The first workshop is on March 28. A second, on May 9, will examine printing and toning. This, says Chris, is for those who want to go beyond blue, and bring other shades to their prints. “We’ll begin by making some test prints before learning how to bleach and tone them using widely available everyday ingredients, including tea and red wine. After some experimenting we shall end the day by producing our own unique finished prints.”

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-cyanotype-prints-tickets-96224228257?ref=estw

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cyanotypes-printing-toning-tickets-96224715715?ref=estw

Later in the year, on September 7, we have a visit from Dr Penny Bradshaw, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Cumbria. Her lecture will consider Victorian poetic responses to Wordsworth immediately following his death, including Matthew Arnold’s Memorial Verses, before offering an account of how later poets – such as W.H. Auden and Norman Nicholson – negotiate with a Wordsworthian perspective, particularly in their own engagement with the Cumbrian landscape.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/posthumous-wordsworth-afterlives-and-second-selves-tickets-84616731923?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

There’s also a new book out shortly, and we are expecting a visit from the author later in the year. Andrew Wordsworth has written Well-Kept Secrets: The Story of William Wordsworth. This uses poetry as a starting point to explore Wordsworth’s many contradictions and his constant struggle to come to terms with them. Watch for announcements about the date of his lecture here.

We are also planning an afternoon on croquet on the lawn later in the summer. But the house and gardens are open seven days a week from April 3 (until then we’re closed Monday and Tuesday) so you can come and look around at your leisure.

A special service at Westminster Abbey

It was a very special day at Westminster Abbey.

With flowers from both Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage, a wreath was laid by Susan Andrew, gr-gr-gr granddaughter of William Wordsworth, and her granddaughter Phoebe (great granddaughter x 5) at Wordsworth’s statue in Poets’ Corner.

wordsworth poets corner wreath

Antony Wordsworth gave a fascinating account of what such a legacy means for all descendents of such an eminent forebear aka within the family as, variously “WW”, “The Poet”, and “Great Grandfather William”

Sir Drummond Bone discussed Wordsworth and his importance and value today, particularly in light of the Reimagining Wordsworth project, and then read out Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s moving address about how Wordsworth continues to influence him.

And Simon Bennie, Susan’s son and Phoebe’s father read “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”.

wordsworth family

It was a unique blend of an intimate family occasion, combined with a sense of universal cultural significance, and followed the wonderful experience of the Abbey’s evensong.

the event

Many friends came from Cumbria and elsewhere to made it such a memorable experience.

The wreath was made by our Rydal Mount guide Clara Li-Dunne.

wreath

 

Photo workshops to be staged at poet’s home

Workshops in using an unusual photographic technique involving tea and red wine are to be held at William Wordsworth’s house at Rydal Mount near Ambleside.

Award-winning photographer Chris Routledge will teach sessions in the process of cyanotype photo printing. And the workshops are open to all, novice and expert camera users.

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Cyanotype printing is one of the earliest photographic processes, and one of the most rewarding, says Chris. It was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842, and was used by Anna Atkins to produce the first-ever photographic books.

Atkins made “photograms” of algae and seaweed by laying her specimens on sensitised paper and exposing them to daylight.

“The characteristic cyan blue colour is what gives ‘blueprints’ their name,” Chris explains. “We’ll begin the workshop learning a little bit of history, and sensitising some paper, before making some photograms of our own from items found in the garden or brought with you; pressed flowers and feathers work especially well.”

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Later, the group will move on to making their own negatives, and printing some “Victorian” portraits of their own in and around Rydal Mount.

The first workshop is on March 28. A second, on May 9, will examine printing and toning. This, says Chris, is for those who want to go beyond blue, and bring other shades to their prints. “We’ll begin by making some test prints before learning how to bleach and tone them using widely available everyday ingredients, including tea and red wine. After some experimenting we shall end the day by producing our own unique finished prints.”

In the event of bad weather, the group will use an artificial light to make the exposures.

Chris, who recently had an exhibition of his work at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, is the winner of the 2019 Michael Marks Award for his photographs which illustrated a book of poems by Rebecca Goss, Carousel. He also exhibited at the Liverpool Art Fair.

Rydal Mount curator Emily Heath said: “We love the photos Chris takes, and the way he uses this technique to create wonderful images. It will be an ideal short course for us to host here.”

Bookings can be made here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-cyanotype-prints-tickets-96224228257?ref=estw

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cyanotypes-printing-toning-tickets-96224715715?ref=estw

 

Flowers from our garden heading to Westminster Abbey

Flowers from our garden here at Rydal Mount, and from Dove Cottage,  will be selected over the next few weeks for a special event in Westminster Abbey.

The flowers will be made into two wreaths from the gardens at these two of William Wordsworth’s homes in the Lake District.

The wreaths will be laid in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey at a special ceremony next month, marking the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

They are being made by Rydal Mount guide and artist Clara Li-Dunne who has been selecting appropriate flowers and foliage – including some of Wordsworth’s favourites.

The ceremony will launch a year of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary, following evensong in the Abbey, on Saturday March 7. There will be a reading by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, and the Rydal Mount wreath will be laid by the poet’s great-great-great grand-daughter, Susan Wordsworth Andrew.

Clara, and gardener Helen Green

Clara, originally from Hong Kong, has a degree in fine art and is a qualified teacher. She has worked as a guide at Rydal Mount for nearly nine years, and will be choosing the flowers with head gardener Helen Green.

The wreaths will be based on 12-inch diameter frames and will comprise seasonal flowers and plants from both gardens.

Daffodils will almost certainly feature, says Clara, though Wordsworth’s favourite flower, the celandine, is tiny: “We would need hundreds of them.”

Clara will use the foliage of the evergreen shrub laurel, which was a favourite of William Wordsworth, and is said to have been grown from a clipping taken from the park containing the tomb of Virgil near Naples.

“There will be choisya, sometimes known as Mexican orange, lilies, and especially ferns, which Wordsworth loved,” says Clara, who made a Christmas wreath for display at the house last year.

Choisya in the Rydal Mount garden

The Westminster Abbey ceremony will be attended by members of the Wordsworth family, friends and writers, members of the Wordsworth Trust from Dove Cottage, and the poets-in-residence who will be working at Rydal Mount during the year.

 

 

Entry form for Wordsworth Young Poet prize 2020

Dear Teachers and Parents

The descendants of William Wordsworth invite entries from your pupils for the annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets.

All students at Cumbrian schools, primary, secondary and sixth form colleges,  are eligible to take part. The theme this year is Milestones which can be interpreted as the writer wishes. The winning poem will be framed and displayed alongside the work of the great poet in his former home, for thousands of visitors to see.

Entries should be typed in 12 or 14 point font, double spaced, and no longer than one side of A4 paper. Each entry should carry at the top of the page the name and age of the writer, and the school they attend. Entries which do not have these details cannot be put forward for judging.

They should be saved as individual Word documents, with no illustrations or artwork, please, and emailed as attachments to:

rydalpoetry@gmail.com

The closing date is Friday March 27. All who enter will be invited with parents and/or teachers to the award ceremony at Rydal Mount on Friday May 15.

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Young poets in the footsteps of Wordsworth: 7

Tomorrow we  launch our annual poetry competition for young people in Cumbria. All in Cumbria schools, primary and secondary, can enter, and if you want to start planning now, the theme this year is Milestones.

Meanwhile, we want to remind you about our previous winners, so each day for a week we’ve been publishing the ones that won our judges’ hearts in the past. This was last year’s victor, 11 year old Noa Calman from Grasmere primary school.

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New Beginnings

a coffin

lying still

while

across the world

a letter is flown

friends and family

weep

while I stare

stare into the sky

whispering

whispering my last goodbye

and as if in answer

to my call

a voice I knew

a voice I knew well

spoke

while people want

to be your sun

that burns

burns through

your day

I will

be your moon

that shines

shines through

your darkest

hours

Young poets in the footsteps of Wordsworth: 6

Next week we will launch our annual poetry competition for young people in Cumbria. All in Cumbria schools, primary and secondary, can enter, and if you want to start planning now, the theme this year is Milestones.

Meanwhile, we want to remind you about our previous winners, so each day for a week we plan to publish the poems that have stolen our judges’ hearts so far. In 2018 Mayumi Singh, then aged 12 and a student at Windermere School, wrote this winning poem. Here she is reading it, sitting in Wordsworth’s favourite chair:

Mayumi, sitting in Wordsworth's chair, reads her poem

Deep Waters

A boat. Waiting. 10pm. The sound of silence.

A line of people. Terrified. They get onto the boat. Some with lifejackets, others without.

They might not survive.

But they want to escape from the place that was once filled with laughter and happiness,

that they once called ‘home’.

Away.

The captain starts sailing. Its pitch black. All is calm but all is not bright.

The children’s eyes are filled with desperation.

They remember the days when their dreams were filled with wonder.

All they can dream about now is their horrified mother screaming.

The journey takes a turn for the worse. A storm is heading their way. The waves become bigger.

The tension rises. The captain tries to divert. The people are terrified.

They are clinging onto the helpless boat. The boat turtles, children scream, mothers cling onto their precious babies.

They are in the middle of the empty Mediterranean Ocean.

No hope. They go in deeper into the water.

Deeper and deeper and deeper.

Till all we can see is a little girl’s doll. Floating away.

Young poets in footsteps of Wordsworth: 5

Next week we will launch our annual poetry competition for young people in Cumbria. All in Cumbria schools, primary and secondary, can enter, and if you want to start planning now, the theme this year is Milestones.

Meanwhile, we want to remind you about our previous winners, so each day for a week we plan to publish the poems that have stolen our judges’ hearts so far. Today we look at our youngest-ever winner Rowan Ashworth, then aged 9, from Ambleside Primary School. The theme was “A walk on the wild side”.

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Wild is a child

Wild is a child who stays out until dark

Wild is the child that lights fire with bark

Wild is a child with mud on their knees

Wild is the child who climbs up in the trees

Wild is a child a long way from home

Wild is the child with no need for a comb

Wild is a child who wipes their bum with a leaf

Wild is the child who uses a stick to brush their teeth.

Wild is a child who sleeps under the stars

Wild is the child who keeps tadpoles in jars

Wild is a child who fell out of a tree

Wild is the child with their own parking space at A&E

Wild is a child that I would like to be.