Listening Project: Poem, Film, Tapestry

On 25 February, I took part in Digesting History – an event created as part of Collections in Verse: a collaboration between Poet in the City, The British Library and Sheffield Libraries. Inspired by the Anglo-Saxon tradition of feasting, the event brought people together in their homes for a unique dinner time experience, including the premiere of Eelyn Lee‘s new film Where Two Rivers Meet – a celebration of Sheffield’s communities and the outstanding efforts of Food Banks during the pandemic. This trailer for the film includes a sneak preview of my new poem, Listen, I Have Heard Many Old Tales commissioned for the project.

My poem responds to the stories women shared with me in Sheffield through a series of listening workshops, and also responds to the British Library’s exhibition, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War.

At the listening workshops, I worked with the artist Eleni Stavrou, who sketched while women shared their stories, to create an artistic record of the experience. Eleni then developed this work, including other stories that were shared with me, creating a tapestry which will be hung in Highfield Library to honour the stories and contributions of local women. You can see more pictures of Eleni’s tapestry on the Poet in the City website.

The event also included brilliant new poems by Kayo Chingonyi and Joe Kriss, featured in Where Two Rivers Meet, which is now available to view:

The film tells the story of the Collections in Verse project in Sheffield, including the incredible work of Open Kitchen Social Club and libraries across Sheffield, who transformed to support communities in need throughout the pandemic. I also talk a bit more about my research and workshops in the film.

The complete recording of my poem, including a full acknowledgment of the many women who contributed their stories, is now also available:

Thank you to everyone involved for sharing their hopes and histories and sorrows and dreams.

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