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24 June 2018 Entry: "Looking Forward"

Caroline Hawkridge was the winner of the Julia Darling travel award and Poem of the Month will feature one of her poems later in the year. A very interesting older woman who was born in what was then called Rhodesia to left wing parents who couldnít countenance what Ian Smith was doing to the country so exiled themselves and their young daughter. Caroline is using the money to go back Ďhomeí to Zimbabwe and will explore issues of exile and identity I believe. She said she felt a great affinity with Julia and I know Julia would have been delighted by Carolineís plans.

Iíve been busy with teaching my classes at the Lit and Phil and also working as part of the Brains Steam and Speed project, celebrating famous engineers, designers and scientists from the Heaton area. I worked in Chillingham Road primary school with my son Johnny exploring sound. Their school was researching Sir Charles Parsons, most famous for his ship Turbinia, powered by steam. But he also patented the auxtephone, an early attempt at amplifying recorded sound. Weíve recorded 5 soundscapes all imagined and created by the class: Dinosaur world, Victorian docks, scary woods, Space war and a mining disaster. Every scenario ends in disaster in fact! These are going to be on display at the Peopleís Theatre Foyer from 6th July along with other exhibits from the four other schools involved who made pinhole cameras, maps, automata, concrete poetry, and metal sculptures. At the same time there will be a play, written by Peter Dillon and called Heaton! on from 17th to 21st July at the Peopleís which again has a theme celebrating all the famous historical Heaton folk, with film, music and a time travelling couple.
We raised money to put the whole project together: the schools work, the artists, visiting engineers and the play. We raised the main amount from Heritage Lottery Fund and some from the Joicey Trust, and Heaton History Group. We asked to be part of the Great Exhibition of the North, and applied for funds but were told we were outside their remit, but we could be mentioned in their publicity.
We were all very disappointed as we thought our project would sit well with the theme of celebrating northern creativity. We werenít the only artists and creative local people to be turned down for money or overlooked to be part of the whole shebang. I have to say Iím disappointed by what appears to be the top down corporate approach of the whole event.

Looking forward, Iím hosting Robin Mossís launch of his first full collection Mastering the Art of Imperfection at the Lit and Phil on Wednesday 18th July, which will be a great evening of poetry.

Iím also involved with a wonderful woman artist called Lesley Wood, who is mounting an exhibition at the Gosforth Civic Theatre about her matri-line walk through the country to her home in Newcastle:
Dates for your diary:
July 20th, 5.30-7.30 pm, Preview night and drinks reception
July 26th, 6.30-8.30 pm, Artist's talk
Sept 2nd, 2.30-4.30 pm, Garden Gathering, a fundraising bash for Parkinson's UK (because her Mum has Parkinson's)
And on Thursday 13th September I will run a workshop in the afternoon and host a reading in the evening in response to the themes in Lesleyís work. Iíll be sending out more details to publicise it, but it should be a fascinating experience.

Iíve got more exciting developments in the Autumn but I think Iíll leave that to a future diary entry. Now Iíve got to hunt out the bunting because we are having our annual street party today. Unfortunately it clashes with the England v Panama world cup match. Thereís talk of rigging up a big screen in the street. It doesnít seem quite the point of an outdoor party but itís hard to resist the rise of the screens.

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