Pulling Threads Update: Postcards from Passchendaele

Pulling Threads, Touchstones Creative Writing Group’s performance arm, are being busy bees this summer; they’re preparing for a piece of original writing. Here are notes from the meeting and the performance dates.

Reflecting on the pity of war: draft script, replica pistol & cloth to clean it.

Pulling threads rehearsal & planning meeting, Falinge Park 13th July 2017

To commemorate one of the “greatest of the four battles of Ypres”, Pulling Threads are pulling together a piece of original drama based on testimonials from the battle. Annette Martens is the artistic director for this production which features dramatic true stories, horrific images, and sound. The italicised phrases are from some of the writers.

“Here are our gifts to the Gods” “roads that lead to the killing Fields”
The voluntary group of players have all contributed pieces to this performance in order to capture the human element; it’s not just the facts, the sheer number of the dead or the time and slog of the battle it’s about getting to the heart of it. The facts are woven in and there is compromise and cooperation in editing the pieces.

“I don’t usually carry a weapon, I carry arms… I’m a stretcher bearer”
There is pathos, and sympathy, created for the characters – the nurse, the stretcher bearer, the man who had his face half blown off but lived. And there is so much mud, a mud world, who thought you could drown in the battlefield?”. The emotion and empathy that has been created shows that “bravery can take many forms”.

“The government, the general, and the Kaiser sat down”
For a small piece of land many gave their lives, and as the performance comes together the script is becoming stronger. Any audience will be moved.

Performance Dates
10th November Oldham British legion, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham. 19:50 – 20:20
22nd October, Part of Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival Fringe. Vibe, Drake Street, Rochdale. 13:00 – 13:40

Next meeting: Thursday 27th July 3pm, the Heritage Cafe in Falinge Park.

Focus on our members: Ray Stearn

After the last creative writing session, here’s a poem by Ray Stearn inspired by one of the workshop prompts. Click on the link to download the piece with how Ray set it out: Ray Stearn ‘After the Storm’.

William Etty 'After the Storm' (c. 1830). Image from Wikicommons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Etty_Storm_1830.jpg)
William Etty ‘After the Storm’ (c. 1830). Image from Wikicommons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Etty_Storm_1830.jpg)

After the Storm (after William Etty)
Drip
Drip
Drip
Plop

Plop
Drip
Plop
Trickle

Trickle
Plop
Trickle
Splash

Splash
Trickle
Splash
Crash

Crash
Splash
Crash

Smash

Smash
Crash
Smash
Grind

Grind
Smash
Grind
Squeak

Squeak
Grind
Squeak
Grind
Scrape
SPLAT!

Poetry for Cotton Famine Road

If you’ve been watching the BBC’s excellent Black and British series recently then you’ll have caught a glimpse of Rooley Moor road set in some of Rochdale’s most beautiful landscape and the role this route played in fighting against slavery.

On the 16th August, members of the Touchstones Creative Writing Group wrote original poetry to help celebrate the unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the community who sided with the cotton picking slaves. Below you can see a video from the event.

For more on Rooley Moor and the work going on in the local community, see their website: Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum.

Other Side of Town

How do you feel to be apart from me?

We should be together, it is our destiny.

How do creed and race compare

to our love, precious and rare?

 

I left you on the other side of town.

My hopes and dreams shattered, torn down.

My life in pieces, my heart in two.

How am I going to live without you?

 

It was decided, we had no say

in the events of that awful day.

You were taken, ripped from my side,

to become another man’s bride.

 

Now it’s finished, your life over.

My beautiful girl, my one true lover.

I leave you on the other side of town.

My life in tatters; you in the ground.

 

The other side of town

Nestling amidst stark, Pennine hills,

fringeing a river, our town has grown,

spreading slowly through passing years,

like gentle waves that never recede.

Ever growing, ever changing.

Growing and changing.

 

Old slabbed pavements, cobbled roads.

Stone terraced houses, grime encrusted.

Mills and chimneys in every vista.

Reminders past of Rochdale’s pulse.

But change is coming;

change is coming.

 

When life was dreary, hard and raw,

town offered a sense of belonging.

Change occurred slowly, steadily, sure,

watched over benignly by the Town Hall clock.

It was the other side of Town.

Other side of Town.

 

Here and now, town is transforming.

Black spots flattened, erased, re-jigged.

Trams are revived, Roch river exposed,

revealing forgotten medieval world.

New projects in progress;

projects in progress.

 

What’s at its heart? What stimulates change?

Heritage, history all play their part.

Communities contribute hope for the future,

share strengths and skills co-joined as one.

This is the other side of town,

other side of town.