Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Latest Newsletter

Just a quick post to say the latest Newsletter can now be downloaded from this link. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Preston Guild Poem Winner: Proud of Preston by Lorna Smithers

(Congratulations Lorna! Here is the Preston Guild Poem for everyone to enjoy)


Proud of Preston heed my entry
Hear the voice of ancient memories
Hearts purloined by Roman sentries
Like a river shining bright.

Proud of Preston born free traders
Made by commerce and hard labour
Merchants gilded artists favored
Like the Brigantes warred in tribes.  

Mechanics shift the scene of battle
Raise the red brick smog industrial
Cording hearts like twisting material
On the wheels of the cotton lords.

Step the Chartists to the engines
Pull the plugs release the tension
The rioters face the sentries
Dye the river dark with blood.

Grey arise the business faceless
Fake fulfillment for the faithless
Mass the market for the tasteless
Selling life for capital. 

High in the stone fortress
The sentries hold their rule
Beyond the mall and office
Do you hear a river call?

Proud of Preston I have carved you
In my sweeping spirit formed you
Through your veins floods dazzling water
My Setantii shining bright.

Will you hearken to my entry
Drown false dreams in ancient memories
Will the proud of Preston
Like a shining river rise?

*Belisama is the goddess of the Ribble

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Jackie Hayes Poem Winner: Dancers, Avenham by Melissa Lee-Houghton

The couple were dancing, under the pavilion, grotty and not
unscathed.  In dark blue and black three figures lurched and held on
to each other like cannibals.
The woman held onto shopping bags, only half full,
and with bleached hair and new trainers she scuffed her shoes
kicking at the ground as though to find water.
On a Monday afternoon with the sun petering out
In the jaundice rain that could sink a dinghy
there were worse places to be and these three knew it –

an excursion to Avenham park with its lawns mowed so perfectly
And the little roof over their wet heads,
The sky the colour of the flesh of an apple.

The couple were dancing. Grotty, not unscathed. Black and blue,
three figures holding on like cannibals,
the sun receding.  No music, the company of new scars.

Shopping bags and bleached hair, singed eyelashes,
she scuffed her shoes having not worn heels for a decade,
and a can of coke was cheaper than water.

The sun petering out, in rain that
if you were dying, would be magnificent-
she rocked on her heels, looking out –

perfect lawns and shelter; wringing their hair dry –
they could make their own warmth if they danced,
This sky the colour of the bitten flesh of a ripe apple.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Runners up Poem 4: City of Grace by Mike Ellwood

Plungington Road and the bucking bus
Is STOPPING at Adelphi Dentists’. In trackie and trainers,
Nike, plastic-black with white tick and wedges,

She foots the buggy’s break and parks it in the aisle.
One hand, tattooed with the Lamb and Flag,
Extended, grips the metal bar. The packed bus lurches,

But the child is safe: Mum holds hard the pram
To battle with the brake-surge. Stopped, the bus exhales
And bows. She struggles off, having thanked the driver.


Under the City Coat of Arms she waits for service.
 Hollow-cheeked, buck-toothed, lank grey hair,
 “It’s about a bus-pass,” she begins, leaning on the counter.

“But you don’t look old enough,” kids the man,
Words that will be repeated to a busy stacker
In the aisle at Aldi, and later to a patient neighbour.

At bed-time she wipes the mirror,
“But you don’t look old enough,” she whispers,
And kisses, in air, a sweet face that was younger.


Pale disc of sun through drizzle transforms: slates gleam,
Leaves shine out. It tickles her nose and chin.
With a tissue she clears her spectacles of moisture.

That evening at the Centre there’ll be show-time,
Tambourines, the pretty music teacher
And friends and parents to applaud her.

This is her city, a source of grace, a place of wonder.
Her eyes sometimes dwell on the face of the lamb:
Serene, triumphant; she feels love surround her.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Runners up Poem 3: Remembering 1942 by Dorothy Nelson

My father, like me, was a carpenter,
content with his mouth full of nails.
He made castles and soldiers, a house for our Lizz;
she cried when I filled it with snails
tucked into doll’s beds, with rags under their heads,
the floor stained with silvery trails.

He was proud when he built the beech platform
and a banner to show off at the Guild.
In hazy half-light he’d work into the night.
We’d hear him tap-tapping, the banner flip-flapping.

When the news came the Guild would be cancelled
that year, he silently broke up the stage;
loaded the van and took off, a crazed-man.
He wouldn’t let on, but the beech planks had gone.

He took me one day for a walk in the copse
to a sun-dappled spot he had found,
where a tree-house, majestic, sat high in the branches,
where a rope-ladder dropped to the ground.

He left the next weekend for somewhere abroad.
We’d wait in our look-out for spies,
for parachute drops, or the sound of a plane;
didn’t know then we’d not see him again.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Runners up Poem 2: Score after Score by Tom Hicks

The merchants of Preston are still on a roll
All thanks to King Henry the second.
He recognised vision and purpose and soul,
A future through which glory beckoned;
Believed that that future would virtues define,
Would underpin commerce with values divine,
Keep priest town and Preston linked firmly in line
Which works out today as he reckoned.

Saints Walburge and John point heavenwards each spire,
Both markers for faith in the city
Whose history, industry, culture inspire
Its citizens, hardworking, gritty,
We boast about Cromwell who battled nearby.
Of spinning and weaving; remember the cry,
‘Come on Finney!’ Alas, retire, so we sigh,
‘Harry Duckworth please soothe with sweet choir!’

Close hugged by the Ribble and beautiful parks
Where Easter eggs roll by the river,
Where concerts and pageants have all made their marks,
Trees backing with shimmy and shiver.
Here we bask in the sunshine, cool in the shade,
Give thanks to our forbears for all they have made,
Thank God for the glorious world there displayed
For joys these dear places deliver.

So each twenty years we will let down our hair,
Rejoice with King Henry our donor;
With mixed population together we share
Celebrations – none be a loner.
The Mayor leads the way with a calendar filled
With marvellous goodies which keep us all thrilled,
‘Hooray’ then for Henry; our wonderful Guild,
Bless our city, Proud Preston the fair!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Runners up Poem 1: Street life in Preston by Joan Yates

The sun rose with little enthusiasm,
over the Preston skyline,
tinting the anaemic dawn a rosier hue.
In the late spring of ‘thirty-nine the
threat of war hung in the air, thicker than
the mist that hovered over the River Ribble.

Hooters wailed their melancholy tune,
summoning dockers and factory workers
for the early shift; their clogs clattering
over uneven cobbles, a staccato sound,
gathering momentum, as millworkers
tumbled out of terraced houses, joining the exodus.

Women in metal curlers, resembling alien
invaders, gossiped in a huddle on the corner.
Some, heavily pregnant, wore floral smocks
with coats that didn’t quite meet at the edges.

Boys, wearing ragged breeches and
‘hand me down’ jerseys, played marbles
and fired catapults in a back alley.
A battle scarred tom-cat, nine lives fast
diminishing, dodged their missiles.

Chimneys belched thick smoke into the air
as tubercular scarred lungs coughed up
threads of scarlet, paying, in painful
instalments, the heavy price that the
industrial north demanded from its people.

A child, too small to see over the hood,
pushed a pram, jiggling its noisy occupant.
Born into poverty, they shoulder a precious
burden, their parents’ hopes and dreams.
A fragile link to a better future.