A literary festival with a heart
I am even more in love with the Berwick Literary Festival today than I was yesterday.
This is because I met with Pamela Wright this morning. Pamela is a member of the Festival steering group and responsible for areas of the Festival that reach out into the community in ways that are beyond the remit of a ‘meet-greet-applaud’ literary festival.
The Festival has recently been given charitable status and the drive to include members of the community who either self-exclude or are excluded by circumstance has played a large part in that.
Pamela told me about three key aspects of the Festival that come under this umbrella:
1. Poetry readings in all local care homes
2. The Festival Schools Programme
3. The re-configured Poetry Café
I’m going to give an insight into area number one in this blogpost and follow up with posts – including details of events and timings – about the other two exciting initiatives in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
Pamela explained that for many years music has been acknowledged as a key to unlocking doors in the brain jammed by dementia and Alzheimer’s. More recently the rhythm, repetition and imagery of poetry has also been recognised as a powerful tool in tapping into childhood memories. Inspired by an article in the Telegraph on the subject, Pamela set about creating a team here in Berwick-upon-Tweed which, in the two weeks leading up to the Festival, will visit each and every care home in Berwick and the adjoining towns of Spittal and Tweedmouth.
The long-term aim is to develop (with hopefully some outside funding as well as the support of the Festival) a bank of laminated poems and nursery rhymes and ultimately to enable readers to visit care homes on a bi-monthly basis.
The volunteers will read a maximum of ten carefully chosen poems – such as Kipling’s If, Lear’s Owl and the Pussycat, Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, and Wordsworth’s Daffodils.
Pamela says that, unsurprisingly, care homes are seeing the initiative as a welcome addition to their activity and events programmes.
If you’re interested in the poetry in care homes initiative, please do contact Pamela on firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for the Festival are available online from The Maltings and the full programme will be available at various outlets including The Maltings, Grieves the Stationer, and Festival hub the Corner House Café. Heads up: the full programme looks amazing!