Our Celebration

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Julia Price’s Collage inspired by our work on World War 1

It was lovely to welcome so many wonderful people to our evening to share readings, pictures and food at the Friends Meeting House in Liverpool at the end of January.  So many people have welcomed our work and contributed with pictures and stories.  We have a lot to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for – as it has helped us create a permanent archive of creative work from local people in Liverpool. At this stage the blog had 25 poems, 5 stories, 7 family history items, 7 imagined scripts and letters, a couple of factual articles  and a small selection of items related to Liverpool People and Places with 20 other workshop postings and other links with a backlog of 35 items which will be added to the site between now and the end of March 2015.

A selection of photographs from our evening celebration offers a flavour of both the evening and the wider project.

100 Pics celebn 8 Alan Thomas

100 Pics celebn 1

100 Pics celebn6Ralph Killey playing harmonic

100 Pic celebn5 Julia Price

100Pics celebn 4Peter de Lane reading his Grandfather’s letter

100 Pics celeb 2Kevin McMahon

100 Pics celebn 3John Rowe singing The Green Fields of France

100 Pics celebn7Graham Scott

Our celebration

It’s Friday 30th January 2015 and 100 Pictures – 100 Pages, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is about to come to an end, but it it not the end of the project as we’ve decided to keep the blog going so that local people can continue to send us their pictures and photos, poems and stories, items of family and local history up to 2018 and the centenary of the end of World War 1.  Information from our event tonight at the Friend’s Meeting House, Liverpool Quakers will be posted here soon with more about how you can continue to send us your work.

All Together Now

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/sculpture-named-together-now-symbolising-8913

The first year of commemoration for the First World War was symbolised in Liverpool in All Together Now, a sculpture showing The Christmas Truce – when enemy soldiers talked together and famously played football –  something that has major resonances not just through the famous Sainsbury’s advert but in new work by poets from Carol Ann Duffy to Ian McMillan.

In this famous football city it is fitting that Andy Stewart’s sculpture of two soldiers shaking hands was unveiled in December at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, itself an iconic symbol of survival and commemoration related to the Second World War.

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Commemoration and Christmas

Coming up to Christmas in this centenary year of the First World War it is appropriate that we remember that profound moment when one soldier made a move to make human contact with the enemy, the move that led to a game of football on Christmas day between the German and English soldiers.  But is it offensive to find such moments of human compassion portrayed in a supermarket advert?  The Sainsbury advert is beautifully made. There are many who would find it worthy because it is jointly made with the British Legion.  The film conveys the meeting of young soldiers from enemy lines with reverence.  But does this commercialisation – so effectively done – get the to heart of the problem with remembering war?  Lest We Forget.  The human drive to remember and commemorate is an essential part of trying to make sense of horror and loss.  But it can also be manipulated and used to glorify and make myths of war, to sell false ideas of nobility and honour.  At the time opposing troops were making their own informal truce and “Fraternising” with the enemy, Christmas 1914,  101 British women suffragists also made their own calls for a truce in an open public letter “to the women of Germany and Austria”in which they stated:

Is it not our mission to preserve life? Do not humanity and common sense alike prompt us to join hands with the women of neutral countries, and urge our rulers to stay further bloodshed? … 

This message had no power with the powerful but such calls for peace are essential to reminding us of our capacity to challenge the dark drives of the state.  We have a duty to commemorate because we have a duty to live, to keep going, to continue to try to make sense of the senseless acts of history because they can so easily be repeated.

Off the Page

There will be a day festival at Liverpool’s Bluecoat tomorrow celebrating the work of all the organisations linked to Merseyside Literature Partnership – which includes us  – at North End Writers.  We’ll be promoting 100 Pictures-100 Pages in a drop-in advice session in the Bluecoat’s library on the first floor between 1 pm and 3 pm.  At 3 pm we’ll be presenting readings and work from the project in a performance that includes song.  We will do everything we can to invite involvement in our work to encourage people to share their creative responses and ideas about World War 1.

Reading and Music at our AGM

Our Annual General Meeting today, at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, was livelier than in previous years as it was preceded by readings from our 100 Pictures-100 Pages project.  Alan Thomas opened the readings with his rendition of Lord Derby’s speech to the Liverpool Pals followed by his poem Bert and his story Kill or Be Killed.  Graham Scott read his poems Shot at Dawn and A Pal’s Tale – and his stories Me and the Park and I Prefer Not To.  Readings of poems were also given by Suzanne Dowse, Brenda Roberts, Julia Price, Pauline Rowe and Janet McAdam with a short story from Peter de Lane and music from John Rowe who treated us to Ralph McTell’s Maginot Waltz and Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France.  This was a fitting way to start a review of last year’s work as our Heritage Lottery Funded World War 1 project will form such a large part of our work through to 2015.  Julia Price also presented her 100 Years collage inspired by the project.  It will have pride of place at our drop-in advice session (1pm – 3 pm) at the Bluecoat for Merseyside Literature Partnership’s Off the Page festival on Saturday 18th October.

Workshops with Dr Shirley Jones

We’re delighted to announce the first of our six creative writing workshops with Dr Shirley Jones.  They start today at  Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG & M) at 2 pm.  They will be held in the Activities Room on the ground floor and will continue each Saturday with the final workshop on 25th October.  Shirley has many years experience as a Tutor and Lecturer, having worked at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) , UCLAN and Liverpool Hope University. Please feel free to come along and enrol today.

A visit to Stockbridge Village Resource Centre – 26th August 2014

What a wonderful workshop today with the “Stockbridge Tuesdays” – some lovely people who are regular service users at the Stockbridge Village Resource Centre.  We started our workshop at 10.30 am with a discussion about the meaning of the poppy and our shared knowledge of the First World War with some truly inspiring ideas and knowledge about life 100 years ago.  We also sang some of those old songs that we seem to know without knowing how we learned them – It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Keep the Home Fires Burning  – and explored how we could use our senses to evoke our own experiences. We talked about the importance of music in our own lives including favourite artists and songs.  We thought about the entertainment on offer a century ago through family get-togethers, the music hall, theatre and the early days of the cinema.   This helped us to imagine the different world back then, its innocence, its simpler communications.  No TV or radio!  We talked of morse code and military communications, the importance of letters and post-cards but most importantly that essential gift of love which is such an important driving force for memory, remembrance and respect.  We considered lots of images from the war and read and reflected on the poems Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (for link, see: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/239742 ) and MCMXIV by Philip Larkin (for link, see http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/mcmxiv/ ) through which we imagined those days of innocence – as Larkin says – “never such innocence again.”

After a break for lunch we all pooled our ideas about 1914 and some of our responses through our senses and emotional memories associated with touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.  The afternoon session resulted in an inspiring group poem:

How Shall We Extol Thee? 

 

Years ago the Shire horses took beer from the breweries to the pubs,

clip-clop, clip-clop, clipperty-clop, clipperty-clop, clip-clop

and the horses ploughed all the fields.

 

Monday morning women carrying bundles on their heads

to old shops, pawn shops, sweet shops, toy shops,

bakers, butchers, bread-man, milk-man, coal-man, post-man.

 

Itchy, poppy-coloured, sour-smelling carbolic, washing with our hands,

turning the mangle-handle, watch your fingers!

 

Beggar-man, thief, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, rabbit pie;

and we all made a rush for the door

my old man fainted on the chair and

we all fell on the floor – bish, bang, wallop

dripping butties and bovril.

 

Coal on the coal man’s back, he empties the coal

down the cellar, black and rumbling, muck everywhere.

“Peter, you’re awful careless – where do you put your money?”

 

Remembrance is the home fires, burning, marching,

songs around the piano, soldiers, playing the spoons,

writing letters, putting your arms around each other, a kiss.

 

Remembrance is respect and hope, the Armistice,

friendship, how we show love.

We think of them with sadness, pride and thankfulness.

 

We all have someone we miss in our lives.

 

Before our afternoon session closed we shared a minute’s silence in remembrance for those who sacrificed their lives in the terrible wars and those who we have loved who are no longer with us.  We then had a great sing-song, finishing with a chorus of When this lousy war is over – and some very helpful feedback for me about what everyone thought about the session.

Many thanks to everyone at Stockbridge Village Resource Centre including staff June Jenkins, Karen Stockdale and Sheila Dunk and today’s workshop poets:  David Henderson, Debbie Heaps, Alison Kelly, Lee Marsden, Elizabeth Poston, David Roderick, Marie Shaw, Christina Sullivan, John Taylor, Peter Thomas.

Thanks too to Susan Comer who made the workshop possible.

(The poem is also item 16 in our Poetry section with the image everyone felt fitting.)

 

Pauline Rowe