Sunday, 2 March 2014

Light Night at Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Light Night took place on Friday 28th February. The castle grounds heaved with hundreds of visitors who'd come to celebrate this year's event.

Many thanks to Debbie Moss who put together a programme for Nottingham Writers' Studio with the theme ‘War and Peace.’ The writers' studio was allocated a space in the atmospheric tunnel that leads from the courtyard into Nottingham Castle. War-time photographs were projected onto a screen at one end of tunnel, allowing visitors to watch the images whilst listening to poetry being read by Nottingham Writers' Studio members. The public were also invited to read poems and contribute to collaborative writing. Many children and their parents wrote words or sentences on the paper provided and these ideas will be used to write poetry which will be published in a few weeks time on Nottingham Writers' Studio website.

The tunnel which was lit with night lights for our readings.
Reading my poetry to a back-drop of war-time images.

Echoes After Dark was an atmospheric audio and visual experience in which projections of images from the city's archives were displayed on the castle walls. People paused to re-awaken past memories or to reflect on the haunting images. A moving reel of names of the soldiers who died for their country scrolled constantly throughout the night, highlighting the terrible loss of life.

Projections on the castle walls.

Eco-artist Sarah Turner worked with some of Nottingham's school children to create life-sized WW1 tank made entirely of re-cycled materials. When night fell, the tank was lit from within, creating a spectacular display.

There was also sing-a-long music to warm everyone up on the chilly winter's evening. A choir sang in the old bandstand and in the caves beneath the castle.

Nottingham Castle's caves.

Light Night also featured free activities and entertainment across Nottingham city centre, both inside and out. Galleries, churches and the city's cultural venues ran special night time programmes. Seely Primary School lit up the city’s statue of Robin Hood with special Light Night lanterns. There was an interactive pedal powered party with a shadow show, illuminated play bus and rickshaw rides. A procession with lanterns walked through St Ann’s and Sneinton with light sculptures illuminating the streets. In the Old Market Square, many locals and visitors played games whilst projections and light installations shone around them. It was a night for families - and remembering.

Two of my poems which I read on Light Night.

Dusk in Afghanistan

He looks for beauty in this brutal game
Amongst the bitter dust of Helmand;
And finds it in the sun’s splendour.
Its amber rays caressing the mountain range
As his army boots leave prints in the earth -
As barren as unanswered wishes.
He finds no flower to press against his face and smell
Memories of his wife’s perfume.
Waning daylight clings to rocks,
Holding back the invading night
Where silent terror lurks unseen.
And evil crouches, exhaling poison as it waits
Squabbling insects dance and torment,
Biting and sucking his pink-parched skin.
He thinks of England’s gentle rain
Dimpling puddles under pewter skies,
And sighs.
Dusk creeps onwards darkening his thoughts
As the Reaper hides nearby,
Planning a repulsive requiem
Whilst searching for the next soul
To steal from loved-ones across the sea,
The soldier wipes his furrowed brow
Wrinkled like the wind-blown dunes.
Eyes raised, he looks into the navy sky;
A shared constellation with home.
Moving onwards
Past peripheral shadows of outcrops,
Like broken teeth in a rotten mouth.
Tears roll down the hardest face each silent night
In this foreign land, where each man dreams
Of going home.

Sepia Memories

Touching your profile in sepia,
Tracing my finger
Around your smile.
Bundles of letters tied with ribbon,
Frayed and faded
It hugs your words.
A tear-stained message
Peppered with smudged pools
Of diluted ink,
Telling of your death in war.
Sixty years of tears,
Of believing you loved me.
That you held me in your heart
As you breathed your last.
Pages of memories
To read
And fold.
To mark for future return,
When dwelling and lingering
Stings like salt
Seeping into a suppurating wound.
And then, a voice whispers cruelly
Shredding those pages,
Tearing at the truth,
Erasing each word.
A chance remark reveals
You live!
You lied.
A hero in war; a coward in love.
I heard the angel who nursed you
Whilst I grieved,
Shared your three-score years,
Whilst I held in my arms
Your sepia bundle of words,
And the child you never knew.

Angela Barton