These letters are knitted (I think I was responsible for the red ‘E’) and here they are adorning the cherry tree on the Church Green. This is the Wenlock Poetry Festival’s ‘Poetree’ (artistic licence rendered photo-wise) and, during this now annual April event, everyone may compose, or write verses from their favourite poem on a luggage tag and hang it on the tree for others to read.
This year the tree has joined in the general creativity by bursting into bloom. In previous years it has been quite bare.
The festival embraces the entire town, using venues at Wenlock Pottery, Methodist Church, the George and Dragon Pub, Tea on the Square Cafe, and The Edge Arts Centre. Besides the three-day programme of readings, talks and workshops with top British poets, there are verses to be found all over the place. Nearly all the shop windows host one, and they include works by local amateurs as well as the more famous.
And then there are the ten Dada Poetry Orienteering spinners (including 2 mystery ones) sited about the town. They comprise phrases culled from printed matter – from the Declaration of Human Rights to a tea wrapper. Visit some or all and, with random spins of the pointer, create an on-the-spot composition.
And when inspiration needs a further boost, then there are refreshments on hand, not only at the Poetry Café in the Priory Hall, but at the town’s ancient inns, and traditional tea rooms.
And here we come to the heart of the festival, the town’s famously much loved independent book shop, Wenlock Books. Its owner, Anna Dreda, has been the primary driving force behind the festival, enticing, Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s Poet Laureate, to be the festival’s founding patron. The festival is now in its fifth year, and involves the efforts of many dedicated volunteers who put in many months of work to ensure its continuing success.
And so for a small town of less than 3,000 people, we are astonishingly well-lettered, and much of this is down to Anna, who throughout the year (and quite apart from the poetry festival) lures young and old into her lovely shop to take part in reading groups, listen to stories being read, or chat with authors. Coffee and biscuits are ever on offer, and sometimes even a Tea and Toast Breakfast. Last year, too, Anna was invited to meet the Queen during a celebration of British contemporary poetry.
Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books
Sadly, you have just missed this year’s festival, but now that you’ve glimpsed a little of what’s on offer in Much Wenlock, check out the festival website below and make a date for next April. But before you leave, a few more views of lettered Wenlock:
See you at the sixth Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015
Go to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge for more LETTERS