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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Poetry at the Parsonage

Richard Wilcocks writes:
It was certainly a turn-up for the books: I can not recall any events even similar to this one in my experience, and I am guessing it was unprecedented. It should be made to happen again, and not just because it links with the Parsonage's well-established and enlightened stance on contemporary arts, and because all the Brontës wrote poetry but because festivals like this should be essential items on both the Parsonage and the Haworth annual calendar. It should be repeated. Perhaps an annual poetry weekend could grow to become as significant as a Forties weekend.

The organising geniuses were Matthew Withey and Joanna Sedgwick with other members of staff and volunteers from the Parsonage, together with Mark Connors from the Leeds-based Word Club, well-used to rounding up poets of all kinds, and a poet and novelist himself. They spent many happy hours planning everything, drinking plenty of lattes in 'Cobbles and Clay' (on Main Street) to help things along. Some ideas never materialised: the marquee in which performances were going to be situated did not appear because the Health and Safety people from Bradford Council did not like the sheep droppings they discovered on the chosen field, so the poets were sent to either the old school room ('Charlotte's Stage') or to the West Lane Baptist Church ('Emily's Stage') to hold forth.

"Poetry at the Parsonage was a two day celebration of the vibrant poetry scene that stretches across all corners of Yorkshire and we were blessed with contributions from Leeds, Bradford, York, Wakefield, Sheffield, Hull, Otley, Ilkley, Huddersfield, Halifax, Horsforth, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Filey, Marsden....and many other places where poetry thrives in 2016," said Mark Connors on his Facebook page, and audiences were exposed to just about every variety of it. Some was Brontë-related, most of it not, and poets were of every age. My own ten-minute contribution was delivered to an audience which included the magnificent Queensbury Ladies on the front row, and if I was asked to pick out memorable individual performances I would choose Antony Dunn ( at the young end and Patrick Lodge ( at the senior end. I missed the workshops, but on evidence from a participant, can say that the one led by veteran poet and creative writing coach Char March ( was brilliant.

There was a bar on the grass behind the Parsonage which attracted few drinkers on the Saturday, mainly because of the cold, blustery weather, but more on the Sunday, when there was more sunshine - and musicians.

Here are two glowing reviews: