We’re celebrating this year’s National Poetry Day with Forest of Dean poets and poems in voice. Rather than reading the Forest we’ve got recordings of poets speaking, expressing the very essence of The Forest. #SpeakingtheForest will see videos and audio released throughout the day (Thursday 28th) on Twitter @readingthefod and on Facebook /readingtheforest
National Poetry Day began in 1994 with the aim of celebrating excellence in poetry and increasing the audience for it. BBC local radio, poets, community groups and schools up and down the country get involved every year.
The Forest has a great tradition of poetry with its earliest mention in poetic print appearing to be Michael Drayton’s epic Poly-Olbion that sets out to describe the landscape and history of England and Wales - including the Forest:
Here (The queen of forests all, that west of Severne lie);
Her broad and bushy top Deane holdeth up so high,
The lesser are not seen, she is so tall and large.
And standing in such state upon the winding marge.
To more recent times and significant local poets include F W Harvey whose work became known around the UK in part due to his MANY BBC radio broadcasts. His young protégé Leonard Clark would go on to publish many books of his own poems, as well becoming a specialist in poetry for young people. He surely would have appreciated the aims of National Poetry Day! Both writers feature in our digital celebration, as well as the work of more contemporary Forest poets: two firm local favourites Maggie Clutterbuck and Keith Morgan, as well as rising star Stewart Carswell. So if you’ve not done so already, sign up to Twitter or Facebook to enjoy a day of #SpeakingtheForest.
This Saturday (9th September) All Saints Church Viney Hill celebrates the village’s connection to a remarkable, larger than life character: Xavier ‘Gypsy’ Petulengro. Author, showman, broadcaster and mail order businessman, Petulengro was a widely known and loved personality in the inter-war and post-war years – so much so that up to 1,500 people from the Forest and across the UK attended his funeral at All Saints in 1957. As well as his many other interests and enterprises he was a prolific author, writing memoirs, fiction, and several books on Gypsy traditions, food and remedies. As part of the fantastic Heritage Open Days programme across the Forest of Dean, Reading the Forest is putting on an exhibition exploring his life, works, influence, and his Forest connections. We’re particularly interested in meeting anyone who remembers his visits to the Forest, his close friends Mr & Mrs Vine who lived opposite the church, and his funeral.
The event is free, and runs from 12noon until 6pm.
The exhibition is being put on with the support of University of Gloucestershire, The Foresters’ Forest, All Saints Church, and Heritage Open Days.