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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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Nii Ayikwei Parkes<br />

As someone who has a som<strong>at</strong>ic<br />

and psychic rel<strong>at</strong>ionship with<br />

space, not being able to visit<br />

Appuldurcombe House to respond to it<br />

was a difficult starting point.<br />

Instead, I spoke to one of the experts on<br />

the house and its history and they told me<br />

th<strong>at</strong> the questions I was asking had never<br />

been asked before. They did however give<br />

me a thorough overview of the history<br />

th<strong>at</strong> had been recorded, one of the most<br />

famous stories being of a Lady Worsley,<br />

whose affairs caused a scandal in her day.<br />

Looking <strong>at</strong> photographs l<strong>at</strong>er, all I<br />

saw was stone, the house half in ruins.<br />

I imagined myself standing before the<br />

edifice, looking down <strong>at</strong> my feet, and the<br />

first line of the poem came to me: Said<br />

the stone to the foot: you stand on me<br />

yet/ you say you don’t see me? From th<strong>at</strong><br />

line, parallels between the way stones<br />

exist in the world and the way enslaved<br />

people are tre<strong>at</strong>ed as disposable property,<br />

invisible entities (and thus perfect silent<br />

witnesses) became evident... and from<br />

th<strong>at</strong> found<strong>at</strong>ion I built a poem. I played<br />

with notions of gossip and asides (through<br />

footnotes), but also the way th<strong>at</strong> history is<br />

always, inevitably, linked to the present.

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