27 February 2013

Lemn Sissay's Poetry in Shudehill, Manchester (UK)

Shudehill Bus Station, where there's another example of Lemn Sissay's public poetry, this one titled 'Catching numbers':

Catching numbers
 
Since the first journey on public transport
                – all aboard the womb
first stop The Doctors Arms
                To this wonderfully wet
morning in July.
 
Not even the clumsy age of 16
                Was as important as 32
Not even Dad, 40, or Mum, 35,
                Was as important as
the number 32.
                The thought of the number
32 was the most fantastic thought
                 of all the thoughts
that all the thoughts
                 could think, I thought.

A rainbow sprayed itself across the city
                  It was 3 minutes to 2.
3 whole minutes to 2
                  step by step and stop by stop
Tick toc, tick toc.
                  Turning the corner in all its
double decked glory,
                  A galleon thundered down
the main road
                  Its captain at the wheel
stern and concentrated.

It growled to a gigantic concrete churning
                  Kerb rippling road gripping
high street halt.
                  The closer it got
the smaller I became
                  Tic toc.
The double decker docked.

Never had I felt more powerful than then
                  A 16 year old lad stopping
a number 32
                  A traveller to my dreams and
a passenger to my fate
                  Not a second too early
not a minute too late.
                                                           Lemn Sissay

ADDENDUM: Lemn Sissay has now won the vote for Chancellor of the University of Manchester. Phew! I'm very pleased to say he easily beat the horrendous Peter Mandelson: we don't want dinosaurs, especially hypocrites like the architect of New Labour!

Links to my other posts of Lemn Sissay public poems are given below:

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
The Art of Michael Visocchi and Lemn Sissay in London
Hardys Well and Lemn Sissay's Poem
Lemn Sissay's 'Flags', Tib Street, Manchester
Lemn Sissay's 'RAIN'

Tameside Central Library, Ashton-under-Lyne

 
I've not yet found anything out about this semi-transparent reading man, but it's attractive and blends in well with the building.
 
One blue plaque here is just before the entrance, although it's only really visible at opening times:
 
'Raymond Ray-Jones
1886–1942
 
A highly talented artist born in Ashton-under-Lyne.
 
He was a student in this building
when it was the Heginbottom School of Art.
 
Unveiled by his son, Philip Ray-Jones
17th February 1996.'
 
And the other plaque is in the library itself:
 
James Keogh
1915–1938
 
In honour of James Keogh of Wellington Street,
Ashton-under-Lyne, who died in March 1938 at Calaceite
in the Province of Aragón in Spain, fighting for freedom
and democracy in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39
and those other volunteers from this borough
who also fought in Spain.
 
Unveiled by Councillor Jackie Lane
25 November 2011'


Hannah Mitchell in Ashton-under-Lyne

43 Elizabeth Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.
 
'HANNAH MARIA MITCHELL
1871 – 1956
 
A working class woman who became a
local leader in the Suffrage and Labour
movement in the North of England.
She lived here from 1900–1910.'
 
Hannah Mitchell was born into a farming environment in Hope Woodlands in the High Peak area of Derbyshire and it was on her early move to Bolton as a seamstress that she became engaged with the socialist movement. An early influence was Robert Blatchford, and she became a feminist and a pacifist. She began her autobiography before the end of World War II, although it was not published until twelve years after her death: The Hard Way Up: The Autobiography of Hannah Mitchell, Suffragette and Rebel, was edited by her grandson and published in 1968.

John Collier / Tim Bobbin in Rochdale (Greater Manchester)

A self-portrait of John Collier, aka Tim Bobbin (1708–86).
 
 
The grave of Tim Bobbin stands in St Chad's graveyard in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Born John Collier in Church Lane, Urmston, Lancashire (a town where there is now a pub named after him), Bobbin worked as a school teacher in Milnrow. As his family grew he added to his income by writing satirical poetry in the Lancashire dialect. He published a great number of books, often selling them in Rochdale pubs, his most famous being A View of the Lancashire Dialect; or, Tummus and Mary (1746). Other dialect poets recognized their debt to him. He later expanded his talents to painting.
 
Samuel Bamford wrote a poem called 'Tim Bobbin' Grave' which features Bobbin briefly rising from the dead to drink a swift gallon (eight pints) before settling back down in his grave:
 
'I stoode beside Tim Bobbin' grave
'At looks o'er Ratchda' teawn;
An' th' owd lad 'woke within his yerth,
An' sed, "Wheer arto' beawn?"
 
"Awm gooin' into th' Packer-streeet,
As far as th' Gowden Bell,
To taste o' Daniel, Kesmus ale."
TIM.––"I cud like o saup mysel'."
 
"An' by this hont o' my reet arm,
If fro' that hole theaw'll reawk,
Theaw'st have a saup o'th' best breawn ale
'At ever lips did seawk."
 
The greawnd it sturr'd beneath my feet,
An' then I yerd o groan;
He shook the dust fro' off his skull,
An rowlt away the stone.
 
I brought him op o deep breawn jug,
'At o gallon did contain;
An' he took it at one blessed draught,
An laid him deawn again!'
 
Bobbin in 1773, when he was 64.

Below are links to Tim Bobbin's works and to some of my other posts on Lancashire dialect writers.
 
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
The Works of Tim Bobbin, ed. by John Corry
Tim Bobbin in Urmston
The Lancashire Dialect Writers' Memorial, Rochdale
Ben Brierley in Failsworth and Harpurhey

26 February 2013

The Lancashire Dialect Writers' Memorial, Rochdale

The superb Lancashire Dialect Writers' Memorial in Bradfield Park, Rochdale, Greater Manchester has been the unfortunate subject of vandalism in the past, but I was delighted to see it now restored to its former glory. It was designed by Edward Sykes with the portrait medallions in bronze by John Cassidy, whom I've mentioned previously in relation to the former statue of Ben Brierley in Queen's Park.
 
 
'BORN ROCHDALE    EDWIN WAUGH    DIED NEW BRIGHTON
27 JANY 1870 "COME WHOAM TO THI CHILDREN AN ME." 30 APRIL 1850'
 
'IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF
OUR ROCHDALE WRITERS OF THE
LANCASHIRE DIALECT WHO HAVE PRESERVED
FOR OUR CHILDREN, IN VERSE AND PROSE
 THAT WILL NOT DIE, THE STRENGTH
AND TENDERNESS, THE GRAVITY AND
HUMOURS OF THE FOLK OF OUR DAY, IN
THE TONGUE AND TALK OF THE PEOPLE.
THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED A.D. 1900'
 
'1908    HARVEY KERSHAW M.B.E.   1986
"A MUN WI' T' COMMON TOUCH"
 
 
'BORN MILNROW  JOHN TRAFFORD  DIED BOURNEMOUTH
22ND  JANY 1857  CLEGG   18TH MARCH 1895'
 
'SAY NOWT AGAIN FOLK BEHIND THEIR
BACKS, SUP NOWT STHRONGER NOR WOM
BREWED, AN NOANE TOO MICH O THAT
KEEP LOW THOUGHTS EAUT O THI MIND
BI FILLIN IT WI THINGS BRODE AN HEE
FESTIN THI E'EN ON TH SKY ITS AS YEZZY
TO LOOK UP AS DEAWN, AN IT MAKES
A VAST DIFFERENCE IN A MON.'
 
 
'BORN CARLOW  MARGARET REBECCA   DIED ROCHDALE
IRELAND. 10TH MAY 1831 LAHEE                       14TH JUNE 1895'
 
'WHEN WE LAY DEAUN LIFE'S SHUTTLE AN
STON BEFORE TH GREYT JUDGE HE'LL
WANT TO KNOW WHAT SOOART OF A PIECE
WE'N WOVVEN, AN HOW MONY FLOATS THERE'S
IN IT. HE WINNUT CARE ABEAWT EAWR
HEE SEAUNDIN NAMES AN WORLDLY
POSSESSIONS, HE'LL AX US HOW WE GEET
EM AN WHAT WE DID WI EM.'
 
 
'BORN ROCHDALE   OLIVER ORMEROD DIED ROCHDALE
                         21 JUNE 1811      1ST NOVR 1879'                 
 
'AW SED AWM O ROCHDE FELLEY
MON UN WE'RE METERLY FAUSE THEERE
AW'LL WARRUNT TE.'
'OLIS LET O MON DOO THAT UTS REETE
UN E'S SARTIN SHURE FUR TO KOOME
EAWT TH UT LAST OV O.'
 
Below are links to my other posts on Lancashire dialect writers:

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
John Collier / Tim Bobbin in Rochdale
Ben Brierley in Failsworth and Harpurhey

Ben Brierley in Failsworth and Harpurhey

466 Oldham Road, Failsworth.

'BEN BRIERLEY
1825–1896

Lancashire Author & Poet
Was born in this house
26th June 1825'

Ben Brierley was the son of a hand-loom weaver who became a weaver too.

This remarkable monument to Brierley is at the side of the public library just a few hundred yards from his birthplace.

Erected in 2006, it is in bronze and by Denise Dutton after an earlier stone sculpture by John Cassidy (see below).



Brierley is represented giving a public reading, holding the notes to be read in his left hand and resting his right hand on the finished notes.

Written on the left of the steps:

'IN MY EARLY DAYS THERE WERE FEW SCHOOLS TO HELP US IN THE PURSUIT OF LEARNING. IF WE WANTED TO CLIMB WE HAD FIRST TO MAKE OUR OWN LADDERS.'

Written on the right of the steps:

'IN PROSE AND VERSE, AND IN THE DIALECT SPOKEN BY THEMSELVES HE SET FORTH WITH GREAT FAITHFULNESS AND POWER THE LIFE OF THE WORKING-FOLK OF LANCASHIRE'.

'Come carder an' spinners
an' wavvers as weel,
Stop yo'r frames an' yo'r jenies,
strip roller an' creel,
Let yo'r lathes cease to swing,
an' you'r shuttles to fly,
For there's gone through
owd England a battle-cry,
I'm neaw payin ninepence
a week for my cote,
Moore than what I paid last year:
an' yet I've no vote:
an' he says if I grumble
this extra to pay,
He'll clap on th' whul shillin - that's
tuppence a day,

'They'n turned eaut at Ratchda',
an' Owdham an' Shay,
An' th' Staybridge lads
are at Ash'n to-day:
"fair wage for a fair days work"
is the motto they'n chose,
An' what'll be th' upshot
no mortal mon knows,

'So neaw to conclude,
let us shake a loce leg,
An' this system break deawn,
if we're driven to beg,
What's a mon if he can not
stand up in his shoon,
An' say, "I'm as free as
owt else under th' moon?'

Ben Brierley's grave is in Manchester General Cemetery, aka Harpurhey Cemetery, Rochdale Road.

'In
Loving Memory
of
BEN BRIERLEY
WHO DIED JAN 1ST 1896
IN HIS 71ST YEAR.
ALSO ESTHER
BELOVED WIFE OF THE ABOVE
BEN BRIERLEY
WHO DIED ON HER 80TH
BIRTHDAY MAY 25TH 1914.'

'IT CAME UP LATE IN THE
SPRING, AND BLOOMED
AT HARVEST TIME. THE
REAPER WEPT AS HE
GATHERED THE SHORN
FLOWER AND BOUND IT,
WITH THE RIPENED GRAIN,
IN THE SHEAF OF THE
ETERNAL.  B.B.'

Ben and Esther's only child, Annie, died at the age of eighteen.


'BEN BRIERLEY'


At the side of the cemetery, still on Rochdale Road, is Queen's Park, where John Cassidy's statue of Brierley was erected in 1898, facing the former museum and art gallery. It was knocked down and broken in the 1980s and the remains were destroyed by accident following a fire in a boathouse where they had been stored.

From this pedestal, we can see that the words on two faces of the original monument were borrowed for the inscriptions on the steps of the more recent monument in Failsworth:

'IN MY EARLY DAYS THERE WERE
FEW SCHOOLS TO HELP US IN THE
PURSUIT OF LEARNING. IF WE
WANTED TO CLIMB WE HAD FIRST
TO MAKE OUR OWN LADDERS.'

'IN PROSE AND VERSE, AND IN
THE DIALECT SPOKEN BY THEMSELVES
HE SET FORTH WITH GREAT
FAITHFULNESS AND POWER
THE LIFE OF THE WORKING-FOLK
OF LANCASHIRE'.

'ERECTED
BY
PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION
APRIL 1898'

Below are links to my other posts on Lancashire dialect writers:

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
John Collier / Tim Bobbin in Rochdale
The Lancashire Dialect Writers' Memorial, Rochdale

24 February 2013

John Critchley Prince in Harpurhey, Manchester

A rock in Queen's Park, Harpurhey:
 
'"How Beautiful is nature! And how Kind,
In every season, every mood and dress".

John Critchley Prince      Manchester Poet      1808-1866

Created by members of the Booth Center,
Supported by North Manchester Park Wardens
March - August 2003

Northcity (arts people partnership) Manchester City Council'.


Below is a link to another post I made about Prince:
 
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
John Critchley Prince in Hyde, Greater Manchester


Francis Thompson in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester

This plaque remembering Francis Thompson is at 226 Stamford Street near Brook Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, above a former jeweller's shop:

'FRANCIS THOMPSON 1859–1907
"The Poet of Catholicism" moved to this
address with his family in 1864 and lived
here until 1885. His best-remembered
work, "The Hound of Heaven", was
published in 1893.'

Thompson's father Charles was a homeopath and (along with his wife Mary Turner Thompson (née Morton)) was a Catholic convert. The family moved here from Francis's birthplace in Preston. Charles sent his son to Owens College, Manchester, with hopes for his future in the medical profession. However, Francis hated it and preferred to spend his time reading poetry. Following a fierce argument with his father, he fled from home for London, and the wretched consequences are related in the book in the link below.

ADDENDUM 1: Yesterday's Manchester Evening News (28 March 2014) contained an article with several photos of the building: this historic structure has now collapsed in on itself.
ADDENDUM 2: This is what the hole – where Francis Thompson's house used to be – looked like on 24 April 2014:
 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Francis Thompson: The Preston-Born Poet (1912), by John Thomson