OCTOBER 1 is National Poetry Day and the word is: Explore York Libraries and Archives will mark it “in a very special way”.
Explore is launching a project to help everyone to make sense of this very strange year by asking you to send in poems and drawings that will create “a lasting record of what has happened in our lives”.
The project, World Turned Upside Down 2020 #haiflu edition, takes inspiration from spoken-word artist Liv Torc’s pandemic poetry initiative, Project Haiflu, and community artist Stephen Lee Hodgkins’ interest in York’s printing heritage.
Explore is asking you to send two haiku or #haiflu poems on the topic of No News and Strange News but with a flavour of lockdown. If you prefer to portray your thoughts and feelings visually, you can send in a doodle or cartoon instead.
Throughout October and November, Explore will be hosting free online haiku workshops with poets Janet Dean and Penny Boxall and doodle workshops with Stephen Lee Hodgkins.
The first two workshops will be on National Poetry Day itself. At the beginning of November, Project Haiflu originator Liv Torc will present an exclusive online talk and poetry show, Haiflu Ever After.
After the November 30 deadline for submissions, 20 pairs of #haiflu and 20 doodles that reflect York’s Coronavirus experience will be chosen for inclusion in a book. Hodgkins will create a 20-page limited-edition chapbook printed in the traditional way on handmade paper.
Each contributor to the final piece will receive a copy; every library in York will be given one too, and a copy will be lodged in the Explore York archive, alongside the original World Turned Upside Down Chapbook from 1820.
You can find full details and more information on how to take part in the project on Explore’s website, www.exploreyork.org.uk, and book the workshops on their Eventbrite page.
In addition, Explore has made a short film about the project, to be posted on their YouTube channel at 11am on National Poetry Day.
What is Project Haiflu?
AT the beginning of lockdown in March, spoken-word artist Liv Torc posted on Facebook to ask how her friends were feeling when life-as-they-knew-it stopped.
She wanted them to tell her what they had noticed, either in haiku form – a three-line poem with five, seven and five syllables and no rhyming – or by posting a photograph.
She brought words, pictures and music together in a weekly film and Project Haiflu came into being. Liv made 12 weekly films, one overall 45-minute project film and an extra film based on contributions for public libraries.
The films contain more than 600 contributions from 250 people. Around 30,000 people have watched them so far; you can do likewise and discover more about the project on Liv’s website: https://www.livtorc.co.uk/.
What is The World Turned Upside Down, or No News, and Strange News?
DURING lockdown, community artist Stephen Lee Hodgkins was experimenting with an old Adana 8×5 tabletop letterpress printing machine. When searching for old instruction manuals, he came across the work of York printer James Kendrew, of 23 Colliergate, who had produced a series of chapbooks in the 1800s.
These chapbooks, or “cheapbooks”, were small, roughly printed booklets adorned with intricate woodcut illustrations. Chapbooks kept alive folklore, nursery rhymes, fairy tales and school lessons and were sold by travelling merchants across town and country.
The World Turned Upside Down, or No News, and Strange News is an example of nonsense rhymes and riddles produced in 1820 that gives an insight, through a quirky lens, to life 200 years ago. Copies can be found in the archives at York Explore.
SPOKEN-WORD artist, published poet and producer who “plunges the vast caverns and dormant volcanoes of the human and planetary condition”.
This former Bard of Exeter and now co-host of the Hip Yak Poetry Shack runs the spoken-word stage at the WOMAD festival, Project Haiflu and the Hip Yak Poetry School.
In 2019, her poem about climate change in the face of motherhood, The Human Emergency, went viral, being seen by 80,000 people. She performed at Glastonbury Festival on the Poetry and Words stage and represented Somerset for the BBC’s National Poetry Day celebrations.
In 2020, she was chosen as one of four Siren Poets by Cape Farewell for a commission on climate change in the time of Covid-19 and wrote and filmed a poem for the BBC’s Make A Difference campaign.
HER debut poetry collection, Ship Of The Line, won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. Second collection Who Goes There? was published in 2018.
Penny has won a Northern Writers’ Award and the Mslexia/PBS Poetry Competition. She is a Hawthornden Fellow and has held residencies at Gladstone’s Library and the Chateau de Lavigny.
She has taught poetry on the MA course at Oxford Brookes University and in 2019 was Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford. She is Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of York.
HER poetry has been shortlisted in the Bridport Prize, commended in the Stanza Poetry Competition and featured in the Northern Poetry Library’s 50th anniversary Poem of the North.
Her work appears in anthologies and magazines published by Valley Press, Paper Swans, Templar and Strix. As Janet Dean Knight, her first novel The Peacemaker was published in 2019 and her second novel in progress was shortlisted for the New Writing North Sid Chaplin Award.
Stephen Lee Hodgkins
THIS “chronic doodler” and community printmaker has an interest in people’s voices, texts and their experiences of places and spaces.
He is a self-taught community artist and visual thinker with a positive attitude, people and research skills, creative energy and a commitment to inclusion and human rights. He has experience aplenty of working with community organisations, applying an arts-based approach.
He left school with no qualifications and later received the labels of dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit. Reflecting on these tags now, his preference is for the term “neurodiverse”, and he has learnt to embrace and harness his diverse language use and organisational approach to the world.
Returning to university as a mature student, in 2008 he completed a PhD in Social Psychology. An abridged version of his thesis was published as a chapter in an international text in 2009, Disabilities: Insights From Across Fields and Around The World.