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By Alan Barrett, Jul 14 2014 01:03PM

Ah yes, blue skies, only intermittent rain, heat, gardens, allotment, butterflies and so on. All good and all welcome. Big smiles behind a snotty hanky.


I've been incredibly lucky and had a full diary lately.


This has included working in local schools, the library service, the museums and even helping an wonderfully enthusiastic group of year 7 and 8 children from Clayton Hall school in Newcastle-under-Lyme to acheive their Bronze Awards for literacy in the Libraries Challenge!


I've been to Manchester, Liverpool, Buxton, Wigan, Derby, Uttoxeter and Wolverhampton, as well as working here in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. I am somewhat tired, but delighted to have had such terrific opportunities to work with such a wide variety of brilliant chilren and staff.


Some days, getting up at stupid o'clock, facing a 60 mile (or more) journey in rush hour traffic, I think to myself "Why do I do this?", and then I get there, and all the negativity disappears because the response is so fantasticaly positive.


Working with several other artists, sculptors, potters, mosaicists, painters, dancers, musicians and more, simply inspires me and it's such a blessing to be able to say that.


So today, despite suffering with a cold, there is no negativity, just a full and positive well of creative inspiration to dip into and feel refreshed and fulfilled. I can only hope your day is as bountiful.

By Alan Barrett, Jan 15 2014 05:15PM

Well, it moves around far too swiftly, but here we are in a brand new year. So far work has remained a trickle, but new adventures await us as we stride forward.


This is of course, the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. My great literacy love is poetry, and in particular the poets of WW1. In all truth, poetry never really interested me at school. Later, into my 20s, I discovered the beat poets and that piqued a little delving, and as I delved, I discovered the wonders of Sassoon, Brooke, Owen and many others, some of whom will never be household names, but wrote beautifully and poignantly about the sacrifices of the time.


My favourite poem come from this time, it's a long poem, written in dialect by a WW1 padre, known by his nickname, WOODBINE WILLY, the Rev. G.A. Studdert-Kennedy. He was given the nickname by the soldiers who saw him go amongst the horrors of the battlefield with a packet of Woodbine cigarettes, sharing them with dying men on the field. I cannot begin to understand how he felt, but his beautiful words in his collection "The unutterable beauty", often leave me lost for my own. In that collection is myfavourite poem "Well?". It's far too long to produce here, but if you ever manage to read it, it speaks far more deeply than I ever could in explanation.


Being completely mercenary I suppose, I'm hoping my love and knowledge of the poetry of WW1 will bring me more work and help to lead to a greater understanding amongst the young of what the youth of 100 years ago sacrificed so that they could have the opportunity for a better today.

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