The Friday comment: Word on the Street (from @morleylitfest)

There are words on the street already, all around us – signs to direct where we walk, how we drive, where to cycle, shop signs and adverts. But in Morley, for the next ten days, there are words to find in public spaces that we hope will make you pause for a minute. Word on the Street is a poetic art trail that takes you from the Town Hall to the park and other locations in the town centre of Morley with the aim of celebrating poetry on the street rather than on the page.  

Visual artist Bryony Pritchard has taken poetic extracts from work by eleven poets and printed them onto hand-felted shoddy cloth.  Referencing Morley’s heritage as the first producer of shoddy cloth and using techniques we’ve forgotten over time, the fabric has been made from botany lap waste and the words painstakingly imprinted using a Victorian printing press.  The installations are up high and down low for people to read and absorb.  In curating the poems I felt it was crucial the words chosen spoke both to the industrial heritage of Morley and to its present.  Placed on the streets, buildings, railings and benches, they explore themes as diverse as mills, mines, textiles, journeys, shopping and the imagination.  The poems are all different in tone but are very much rooted in their locations; they take us out of ourselves for a moment to stop and think about the people who have walked those streets, passed by those buildings and gone about the everyday.

We invited local poets to participate and were overwhelmed by the response, the trail featuring work by Julia Deakin, Pat Borthwick, Ian Parks, Greg White, Michelle Scally Clarke, Matthew Hedley Stoppard, Peter R White, Linda Marshall, Ian Duhig, Oz Hardwick and Steve Nash.  Indeed Ian Parks, people’s poet and Writing Fellow at DMU Leicester has written a poem especially for this trail, an extract of which you can see at Morley Town Hall.

You can find the artworks by following a trail map from the website – or join us at Morley Town Hall at 2.30 pm tomorrow, Saturday 5 October, when Bryony Pritchard and I will lead visitors around a trail packed with conversation and en-route performances from Ian Parks, Julia Deakin, Pat Borthwick, Greg White, Steve Nash, Oz Hardwick and Matthew Hedley Stoppard.

To paraphrase Steve Nash; ‘these streets are yours’ and, for the duration of the festival, so are these beautiful installations.

Read the poems in full online here

Becky Cherriman is poet-in-residence at Morley Literature Festival 2013.

Word on the Street: until 13 October 2013.  Guided Walk: Saturday 5 October, 2.30pm (leaving from Morley Town Hall) – Free, no ticket required. @morleylitfest


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