Home Articles Poets pitch in with disaster relief in Wordsworth country
Poets pitch in with disaster relief in Wordsworth country PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 30 November 2010 12:31

Disaster tourism tends to sounds a bit iffy but not in Cockermouth, which has played a blinder in this field since its centre was submerged a year ago. Flood bags, badges and souvenir books sell like hot cakes; how virtuous is a Christmas present with a sticker saying "Bought in Cockermouth, Supporting the Town".

Now they've got round to poetry, as practised by history's most-revered Cockermouthian William Wordsworth whose birthplace lost its garden, gates and wall to the furious Derwent. Part of his epic poem "The Prelude" fronts a new Flood Poetry Trail along Main Street and surrounding lanes with a kindlier take on the river:

"…didst thou, beauteous StreamMake ceaseless music through the night and day."

Two other poet laureates have pitched in, Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy, the latter finding time for the town if not for Kate and Wills. There's also the Nobel prizeman, Seamus Heaney, three winners each of the Queen's Medal and the TS Eliot poetry prize and work by the next generation, still at local primary schools.

Some verse is original (Motion), some well-known (Wordsworth), some slightly adapted for the town by the author (Heaney). But the subject of all of them is flood and the pity of flood, via rain (Norman Nicholson), water (Graham Mort) and all the other damp, soggy phrases and rhymes that poets can contrive.

"Every one of them has been here," says organiser Michael Baron who has nurtured poetry and poets in the town for years, "even if the best-known left early in 1783".

The only risk attached to finding and reading all 33 poems in shop windows is bumping into other tourists following the rival £1-a-head Cockermouth Flood Trail, which has 28 similar stops at places with flood drama last November to describe. All the dosh goes to help recovery, with 10% of 591 damaged properties still under repair. Rubbernecking isn't a term of abuse here, quite the opposite, even if no one has yet found a rhyme for it. Next up, a Cockermouth Poems anthology.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Courtesy to guardian.co.uk.

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