Since 2014 Special Collections within the University of Lincoln Great Central Warehouse Library have been actively collecting material from Lincolnshire poets on the recommendations of Michael Blackburn, a poet himself and Senior Lecturer in the School of English and Journalism at the university. This has been (I hope) a very fruitful and pleasurable experience to all concerned, certainly from the point of view of the university. The aim is to capture current poetry, which can be used by the students, staff and members of the public, by poets who were born in or currently live in Lincolnshire, as endorsed by Michael. The collection will be searchable via https://specialcollections.library.lincoln.ac.uk/ when this becomes live later this year.
Poetry has been collected by David Lightfoot, Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Paul Sutherland, Peter Hyde, Rennie Parker, Robert Etty, Rory Waterman and Sam Gardiner. The kindness of Sam’s widow Eileen will ensure future readers and scholars have full access to his work. Each individual poet has his own large, acid free box or boxes and as new poetry is published it will be added to the collection. Copies of some of the poetry are available in some public libraries throughout Lincolnshire but this aims to be comprehensive within the constraints of the selection policy. The collection contains titles such as:
Bell, S. (2013) Behind the glass. Swineshead: Redplantpress.
Daszkiewicz, K. (2015) In the dangerous cloakroom. Beeston: Shoestring Press.
Etty, R. (2013) A hook in the milk shed. Beeston: Shoestring Press.
Gardiner, S. (2000) Protestant windows. Belfast: Lagan Press.
Ryde, P. (1989) Last lesson. In: Anne Lewis-Smith and Nicola Morland (eds.) Envoi summer anthology 1989. Newport: Envoi Poets.
Lightfoot, D. (2004) The Pentecost partnerships: a new selection. Harpford: Pikestaff Press.
Parker, R. (2014) Candleshoe. Beeston: Shoestring Press.
Sutherland, P. A. W. (2014) A Sufi novice in Shaykh Effendi’s realm. Dream Catcher Books.
Waterman, R. (ed.) (2015) Something happens, sometimes here: contemporary Lincolnshire poetry. Nottingham; Five Leaves.
Apart from collecting hard copies of the poetry, usually generously supplied by the poets, in 2016 we completed a project to record the poets reading their own poetry involving a third year Audio Production student, Mark Mullen. Poetry readings were recorded at two places at the university, in Exchequer Gate (editing out the sound of the cathedral bells) and sometimes in the poet’s home. As you can imagine this was a wonderful opportunity to experience the poetry as intended by the poet and very enlightening. Alongside reading the poems the poets also supplied background information about themselves, poets who had influenced their work and fascinating detail about the poems selected. This project was offered to the students as a piece of course work but Mark edited the recordings in his own time, as there was far more than he needed for his studies. A recording was also done of a selection of Maureen Sutton’s work. Copies of the recordings were obviously given to the poets. Without Mark’s help these recordings would not have been possible.
The university library has also been used as a venue for the poets’ new publications, which has been held in the evenings and open to the public and university community. During the last 3 years launches for Paul Sutherland’s New and Selected Poems, Shirley Bell’s Dark is a Way and Light is a Place and Rob Etty’s Down the Line have been enjoyed by all who attended. The first was to celebrate the launch of ‘Something Happens, Sometimes Here’ edited by Rory Waterman and featuring poetry by Alison Brackenbury, Robert Etty, Joel Stickley, Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Rory Waterman, William Bedford, David Cooke, Clare Best, Michael Blackburn, Sam Gardiner, Joel Strickland, Sam Gardiner and Rennie Parker. Poems were read by Kathryn, Robert, Joel, Michael, Rennie and Rory and greatly appreciated by the audience.
The next one will take place on Wednesday 25th October at 6pm for a 6.30pm start featuring Kathryn Daszkiewicz’s A Book of Follies. and Rory Waterman’s Sarajevo Roses. All are welcome, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
To try and encourage the enjoyment of poetry on campus there is also a ‘Poetry for Pleasure’ group, which meets monthly to read poetry. Not academic, purely as a means of sharing favourite and new poetry. As this has to take place in our lunch hour, for logistical reasons, it is only for university staff and students but it is hoped that this might be available for the public in a future library expansion.
The poetry collection is currently housed in the Zibby Garnett Library on the first floor of the library, alongside other rare or fragile items that are kept separate from the main university collection. All items within Special Collections are for reference only and it is best to book a slot, as a member of staff has to be present. Due to the nature of the items the room is locked for security. Unlike the contents of most of the university library Special Collections (such as local history material) are not superseded by later editions and must be kept safe for future readers. Hence the title of this piece Lincolnshire ‘Poetry for posterity’.
If you would like to look at any of the poetry in the collection please contact Claire Arrand, email address above.
Claire Arrand is Special Collections Librarian, University of Lincoln and Lincoln Cathedral.