Maria and I had a very successful meeting at The Brindley last week and the project is all coming together nicely. We have seen the exhibition space and Maria is full of ideas for further artworks. I have typed up nearly all of the letters and these have been put into a book with 5 brand new poems and 5 older poems which were in my book The Fiddle, written before the discovery of the letters gave me new insights into the family situation. I have interspersed the poems with the letters and ordered the book person by person in what appears to be the most logical order, so that the narrative unfolds as the reader moves through the pages.
I have worked closely with Erbacce Press who are bringing out the book. We have endeavoured to keep the cost low so that hopefully people who do not normally buy poetry books will be prepared to invest their income for the sake of the letters themselves but will then enjoy the poetry.
The Brindley will organise an opening, at which I will read both poetry and extracts from the letters. It will be a gala occasion and I hope to see many of my blog followers there. Many friends have told me they will be coming. There will be a video installation of my reading as part of the exhibition, and I am hoping to commission some commemorative bookmarks from Sumptuosity, who have already made bookmarks of quotations from my work in embroidery on silk, with appliqued motifs using vintage fabrics. The Brindley shop will stock all my books for the duration of the exhibition, which starts in July. Maria will be providing postcards of the artwork for sale. And we are offering workshops as well. These will be advertised in The Brindley brochure nearer the time.
I still can’t believe my luck that all this has happened. It’s brought me closer to my dad, even though we were very close when he was alive. My siblings too are very interested, if not fascinated, with it all and it has given us all a great deal to talk about and share in these past few months. Maria and I are firm friends as well, now. So many positive things have come from a strange coincidence, and it’s all down to the fact that my dad’s family were so tight knit that they write frequently to their sister in Manchester in the winter of 1923-1924, giving us a detailed picture of working class life at the time, which is of interest to those of us who came from a working class background and are now reclaiming our histories, as the histories of the real people behind social change.