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Poetry First for New Arts Centre in Leyburn

April 1, 2014

On Sunday 6th April I will be guest poet at the first poetry event to be held in Leyburn’s new arts centre.
This is a free event with an open mic section for poets who wish to give their work an airing.
I will be reading from my collection ‘Land of my Ancestors’ which was inspired by research into my family history, a journey which started whilst I was working for North Yorkshire library services at Hawes.
It was in Hawes library and community information centre that I first made the acquaintance of ‘Alice’ a distant relative who kept popping up in online searches for a ‘John Bowman’ born in 1839.
As her name kept appearing I decided to follow the link and discovered that she was in fact John’s wife. Some administrative error must have led to her name being inputted into his record, a fortuitous mistake as it turned out for me.
Coincidentally, she was born in Hawes and moved down the dale to Wensley on the outskirts of Leyburn.
With each census entry both her name and place of birth changed from one decade to the next and became a source of inspiration for Soul Collecting:

‘If you want to talk to old relatives,
go to Staindrop churchyard,’ Mam said.
‘There’s a nation of them buried there.’

I never went for fear of collecting the wrong souls.
How would I know which Arthur, Tom or Mary
was our Arthur, Tom and Mary?

But Alice sought me out, Alice, Alles and Allaes
kept popping up in every search, the long lost wife
of great, great, great, great Uncle John.

To hear more poems from the collection and share a few of your own, you are welcome to attend this first poetry event at The Old School House, Richmond Road, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5DL from 7.00 – 8.30p.m.
The centre aims to host a wide range of artistic events, details of which can be found on the website at

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