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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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Jay Bernard<br />

Ichose the York Bunker because I was<br />

intrigued by the ideas of heritage and<br />

modernity, and how they interact,<br />

as well as its Cold War history. The fact<br />

th<strong>at</strong> there was a serious chance of a<br />

nuclear war is something we have almost<br />

forgotten.<br />

I spoke with Cur<strong>at</strong>or Kevin Booth and<br />

we talked about how people trained <strong>at</strong><br />

the bunker as a kind of open secret, th<strong>at</strong><br />

they would try to work out where the<br />

radi<strong>at</strong>ion was moving, th<strong>at</strong> there was no<br />

help or reward for them once they’d done<br />

their jobs. The image th<strong>at</strong> stayed with me<br />

from our convers<strong>at</strong>ion was th<strong>at</strong> the bomb<br />

would be detected using photo sensitive<br />

paper in a box with four holes poked into<br />

it. I got the impression th<strong>at</strong> chances of<br />

survival were slim.<br />

The poems move through time and end<br />

in Beirut in 2020 – maybe because it was<br />

such a sad tragedy, and the videos of the<br />

explosion reminded me th<strong>at</strong> the world<br />

ends every day.<br />

A note: the titles for the poems come<br />

from the warning colours used in the<br />

bunker, and tocsin means ‘alarm bell’.

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