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2nd Friday: Collaboration

On the 11th March I teamed up with folk duo Tom Rowan and Stephen Wilson to perform at NeST Digital Art Gallery in Barnard Castle, Teesdale.  I opened the evening with a selection of poems from my pamphlet Dances with Sheep.  The audience were invited to learn a shepherd’s tally,taught to me by Nana Walton, and woven into a poem of the same title.  The folk duo followed with a fifteen minute set from their new CD Illusions.  Following a short break, there was an open mic opportunity prior to the second half.

I again encouraged audience participation in the performance of Carding. The chorus and verses of this poem are chanted simultaneously.  I closed my second set with The Shepherd’s Last Wish, a poem inspired by a newspaper story about a local farmer who had devoted his life to rearing sheep and wanted to be buried in a coffin made of wool.  The imagery came from seeing a window display of customised coffins in Newcastle some months previously.

The Shepherd’s Last Wish

Not for me a coffin

lined with silk,

draped with a flag

or painted black and white.

No.  I want a carton

with a lid,

made of wool.  Snug,

not like Proust’s cork-lined room,

so that I may return

to the earth,

wrapped in a fleece

carded from my own flock.

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