LUCK’S WEIGHT: how a residency turned into an exhibition and a poetry pamphlet

My residency at Acton Scott was a real joy.  I met so many knowledgeable and wonderful people – those who worked there, and those who visited.  Over 100 poems were written about the farm during those four months.  Over 20 poets came back to the farm to perform their work to an audience of over 50 at the end of the project.  And we all had cream tea.

My collaboration with photographer Andrew Fusek Peters began by chance during the residency, but Luck's Weight Launch Andy & Jean bestdeveloped into the touring exhibition Luck’s Weight, which was available to the public throughout much of 2015 in The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms; Wenlock Poetry Festival; Ludlow Library; Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery; Oswestry Library.

We also published a poetry pamphlet, Luck’s Weight, the first print run of which has completely sold out, so we’ve just done another one (summer 2016) – contact me here if you’d like a copy!

Luck's Weight pamphlet

‘I sink into the hammock by the haystack./ This is the life.’

Now you’re halfway through ‘Poems for the Farm’.  There now follows an interval of the most moist, fruity scones, dark red bowls of Acton Scott strawberry jam, with whole fruits bobbing lusciously – and towering dishes of rich whipped cream…

Poems For The Farm cream teas mr

We piled on the cream…

Poems For The Farm audience2 hr

Cream Tea queue at ‘Poems for the Farm’






Then more poetry…

Poems For The Farm Andy FP mr

Andrew Fusek Peters read: ‘Jackdaw handle hinge of the world…’

Poems For The Farm Jean reads mr

I read: ‘He talks of haymaking/ and June storms,/ of the lightning-struck horses/ out in the open.’

Poems For The Farm Mike Turner reads mr

Mike Turner read his son Oliver’s poem. Oliver is 15, a poet, but away at a drama rehearsal.

Poems For The Farm Steve Harrison mr

Steve Harrison read: ‘Wireless chickens/ pecking, preening,/ just solar-powered.’

Poems For The Farm Nadia reads mr

Nadia Kingsley read: ‘His bottom/ curves, in delicate fashion; his anus/ twitches; his lower jaw swings…’

Poems For The Farm Liz Roberts reads mr

Liz Roberts read: ‘He half turns his head,/ and through his whiskers whispers:/ ‘I miss the sea, the hiss and sucking sound…’

Poems For The Farm Adrian Perks reads mr

Adrian Perks reads: ‘I sink into the hammock by the haystack./ This is the life. My girl by my side./ At night we lie together under stars…’

Poems For The Farm Helen Paris mr

Helen Paris reads: ‘Green smothers black as/ the sun, weak for so long,/ pulses and warms.’


‘Roman hens of Dorking/ those blue hills/ and Charlie’

Today over 40 poets and lovely attentive audience members turned up on a hot, humid afternoon to take part in ‘Poems for the Farm’.  It was the culmination of my three month residency at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm – and it was great!  Some 20 poets came along to read, and they generously read  work too from poets who couldn’t be here today.

Poems For The Farm 1st readers mr

Here are the first readers, all ready to go.







Poems For The Farm Meg Cox reads mr

Meg Cox reads: ‘clumps of black suckling pigs/ leggling lambs/ a water of ducks/ and Charlie…’










Poems For The Farm Frank reads mr

Frank reads: ‘the ducks’ green heads, their orange feet/ a drop of brown pond water/ a goose with his head in a bucket…’

Poems For The Farm J reads Jacob's poem mr

I read for Jacob: ‘Piglets/ their little noses/ their hunger/ their curly tails’…

Poems For The Farm Julia Dean Richards reads mr

Julia Dean Richards reads: ‘Then trudge up the cock-crowing nature-knowing tractor track…’

Poems For The Farm Peter Holliday reads mr

Peter Holliday reads: ‘He’s been docking mangolds/ From dawn to dusk:/ In rain, in sleet, in icy cold…’

Poems For The Farm Paul Francis reads mr

Paul Francis reads: ‘Just take a pen, and have a go, she said./ It seemed so innocent. Give it a try./ And that was all it took for me to write/ the words I never knew were in my head.’

Poems For The Farm Nina reads mr

Nina Lewis reads: ‘The pumpkin, orange cart/ with scalloped undercarriage/ and devilled forked hinges.’

Poems For The Farm Colin & audience mr

Colin Fletcher reads: ‘Viewers will remember only that wise head/So steady on its saucer of winged collar.’










Time for cream teas and Richard's squeezebox!

Time for cream teas and Richard’s squeezebox!






























Hanging up the bunting for ‘Poems for the Farm’…

The New Barn is all ready for tomorrow’s final event!

The New Barn at Acton ScottAndrew Fusek Peters appeared with a huge box of photographs, and I set out my poems on boards next to them to make a preview of our exhibition ‘Luck’s Weight’, inspired by the Farm.

Setting up Poems for the Farm 10 best

Setting up our Exhibition: ‘Luck’s Weight’.

Setting up Poems for the Farm 4

Setting up our Exhibition: ‘Luck’s Weight’.

Setting up Poems for the Farm 3

Setting up our Exhibition: ‘Luck’s Weight’.

The cream teas are ordered: home-made scones, and strawberry jam made from strawberries ‘scuffled’ here on the Farm by none other than Dusty the donkey with his little harrow.

And I have a long list of 20 readers, each of whom has visited the Farm, actually or virtually, and written a poem for this special place.  Over 50 people tell me they’re coming!  I’m hugely looking forward to welcoming them.



Come to Poems for the Farm!

Poetry Workshop plus me mrEveryone is invited to Poems for the Farm to celebrate the conclusion of Acton Scott’s 2014 Poet in Residence project with Jean Atkin (supported by Arts Council England and Shropshire County Council).  Poems for the Farm is on Saturday 19 July at 3pm at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm SY6 6QN.

Poets who contributed to the project will also be reading, plus a chance to see some of Andrew Fusek Peters‘ beautiful photographs.  If you’ve been to Acton Scott recently, and written a poem with Jean, or for the project – then please do get in touch.  We would love to see you on the 19th – and if you like you can read your poem out too.

 The event is free (hooray!) but please book your place (to be on the list for a free cream tea! To book sign up to this FB event or contact Jean.

Come and hear poetry from many voices!