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One Poem for Teesdale

July 17, 2013

Field Barn near Holwick on the Richard Watson Trail
Further to today’s article in The Teesdale Mercury, I am running a project to find the poem that best express the history, culture and landscape of the area. I am working on this in collaboration with Radio Teesdale who will be airing the first of three programmes about ‘One Poem for Teesdale’ during their book programme on Thursday 25th July.
The project has developed from other work in the area to capture the dale’s oral history and long-standing relationship with poetry.
The region inspired Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem ‘Rokeby’ and William Wordsworth’s ‘The White Doe of Rylston’. This was based on the legend of the white deer which are still kept at Raby Castle to this day. The castle was once home to Cecily Neville, ‘The Rose of Raby’ and mother of Richard III who is the subject of another ballad written by Rev. Blackburn Clarke.
Many leadminers wrote and recited poetry in the area during the Victorian age, most notably Richard Watson whose famous poem ‘My Journey to Work’ was the inspiration for a new poetry trail created by the A.O.N.B. earlier this year.
W.H.Auden referred to the Upper Teesdale area in particular as his ‘Mutterland’ and wrote 40 poems and 2 plays about his ‘great good place.’
More recently, Simon Armitage created new verse while walking the Pennine Way in reverse. (An unintentional play on words there.)
Other contemporary poets whose work you might like to nominate are Kathleen Teward who writes in the local dialect or ‘Teesdale Twang’ and Meg Peacocke who moved to the area last year.
To nominate the poem that you think should be the ‘One Poem for Teesdale’ or to enter one of your own you can:
* send your nomination to me via e-mail at
* pick up an entry form from NeST gallery, 25 Newgate, Barnard Castle
* attend one of a series of creative writing workshops at NeST on Thursday mornings during August
The creative writing workshops will be facilitated by myself and are designed to produce new writing inspired by the landscape, local myths, legends, heritage objects and personal memories. Session run from 10a.m. to 12 noon and cost £9.
Nominations are welcome from across the globe but the poem itself must express something of the history, culture and landscape of Teesdale.
The deadline for entries is Friday 23rd August.

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