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 developed 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!
The cade lambs at Acton Scott have to be fed twice during the visitors’ day. Maisie and Lucy wielded the bottle and then raced back to the Shepherd Poet’s Hut to write another poem.
In a quieter moment I went out to add more poems to The Poetry Fence (see them here) and added some longer poems to those which decorate the inside of the Shepherd Poet’s Hut. Thank you Deborah Gaudin and Nadia Kingsley.
Here’s the Poetry Fence, after I’d added another ten poems sent to me over the weekend. It does look rather beautiful.
Then I followed Rob, the bailiff, on his rounds, and learned how the brick farmyard at Acton Scott was built purposely in the late 18th century as a model farm. I waved a wooden flail to appreciate, instantly, the value of mechanisation, and learned how the horse gin has an underground shaft which runs a flywheel and belts in the threshing barn. It’s still in use, and eleven people have to be there to operate it effectively.
Here are the cade lambs waiting to be bottle-fed, and a Silver Dorking preening herself on a bale. After the feeding I had a great time writing a poem about it with Lucy, who was three and three quarters. She was very articulate and bright as a button. I scribed her thoughts, then we agreed what order to put the words in. Then I wrote it on an Acton Scott Poetry Postcard for her to take home.
Here she is, with her poem. She did the colouring.
And here are visitors starting to read the Poetry Fence!