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Untold Stories: Poetry at English Heritage

Untold Stories – Poetry at English Heritage took place in the autumn of 2020. Through new commissions, a poetry exchange and a public competition the programme allowed us to experience English Heritage sites in new ways and offered opportunities for everyone to explore our past through poetry. The programme was co-curated by Jacob Sam-La Rose, English Heritage’s Poet in Residence. This digital anthology brings together a collection of works written as part of the programme. It features poems written in Shout Out Loud workshops led by Malika Booker; as part of the Untold Stories Poetry Competition; and by commissioned poets Esme Allman, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa and Jacob Sam-La Rose. english-heritage.org.uk/untold-stories

Untold Stories – Poetry at English Heritage took place in the autumn of 2020. Through new commissions, a poetry exchange and a public competition the programme allowed us to experience English Heritage sites in new ways and offered opportunities for everyone to explore our past through poetry. The programme was co-curated by Jacob Sam-La Rose, English Heritage’s Poet in Residence.

This digital anthology brings together a collection of works written as part of the programme. It features poems written in Shout Out Loud workshops led by Malika Booker; as part of the Untold Stories Poetry Competition; and by commissioned poets Esme Allman, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa and Jacob Sam-La Rose.

english-heritage.org.uk/untold-stories

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inspired by: Goodshaw Chapel<br />

Chapel<br />

gregory kearns<br />

1<br />

and like the dead I wake to find myself<br />

lying in the grass – soil then sandstone.<br />

Time folds and becomes toric, mistaking<br />

millions of years for a few short seconds.<br />

Scooped from the earth I am formed into<br />

brick, g<strong>at</strong>hered with other bricks to make<br />

a wall and with other walls we make a<br />

chapel.<br />

A chapel th<strong>at</strong> is half cloak and half clock.<br />

2<br />

One of my lifetimes was spent as a boy,<br />

always wondering wh<strong>at</strong> might be unseen<br />

about buildings – all the hands turned<br />

to raise them from the ground. He visits<br />

a chapel<br />

where all the dead contained within the<br />

walls howl – cohering into song – try and<br />

name every single soul th<strong>at</strong> stepped in this<br />

room. Here he could point to the speck in<br />

the brick<br />

Often the dead are hidden and timely,<br />

and presently they are all th<strong>at</strong> holds us<br />

in place. The tools scrape then ring like a<br />

bell across the moor. The day digs and<br />

buries<br />

th<strong>at</strong> makes his name a hymn – colours his<br />

mind. He sees a village breakdown one<br />

chapel to bits and carry it across the moor,<br />

the pews held on their shoulders like<br />

coffins<br />

the sun into the earthy horizon.<br />

Tonight, I am back to my old restless<br />

habits<br />

I’m still awake when one day folds into<br />

another. Who decided th<strong>at</strong> we must<br />

and from the rubble the chapel is reshaped.<br />

To be human means to be buried – cloaked<br />

by the earth – fully baptised in the mud.<br />

Our hands reaching for the m<strong>at</strong>erials<br />

sleep when it is dark? History is just<br />

remembering life before this one body.<br />

for us to build ourselves, across the moor.<br />

and like the dead I wake to find myself<br />

21

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