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!

Exercises from creative writing session 01.12.16

Writer Jennie Bailey ran a session ‘Sound: Putting Noise Into Words’ for this month’s creative writing session. The hand out for the session is here Sound: Putting Noise into Words Handout and the supplementary material is here British Council 70 beautiful words from 2004.

Jennie has blogged about about this session in her reflections on her blog.

Have a go and do post your writing in the comments below!

The next session will be on Thursday 5th January, 2 – 4pm at Touchstones Arts & Heritage Centre and will be facilitated by Anthony Costello.

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.

Facilitator’s Notes – August 2015

LANDSCAPES IN LITERATURE – FROM WASTELANDS TO WONDERLANDS

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Group discussion
Exercise one – write down a list of emotions generated by this poem

LONDON by William Blake
I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse

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