[Press Release] Cumbria’s Rich Literary Heritage Inspires Over 60s Writing Project

 Press Release

For immediate release                                          8 July, 2016


Cumbria’s Rich Literary Heritage Inspires Over 60s Writing Project

Elements festival invites older members of Copeland’s minority community to join poet in creating new publication

A creative writing project with lively trips and workshops, inspired by Cumbria’s rich literary traditions, is being launched for over 60s from minority groups in Copeland.

West Lakes Writers’ Residency is part of the region’s new Elements festival, which celebrates age and diversity. It involves a variety of partners such as Age UK West Cumbria, Florence Arts Centre and the Wordsworth Trust, and is supported by Arts Council England and Copeland Community Fund.

Renowned poet Pascale Petit will lead the seven-week programme, which is designed to nurture participants’ writing skills. The writing created in the process will be featured in reading events during and festivals and also included in a final publication which will launch at the end of the festival.

Pascale, who recently returned from a research trip to the Amazon, said: “I’ll help people develop their writing – poetry and short stories – and think they will surprise themselves.

“We’ll bring in ideas from other cultures, especially those that are more open to nature. The people of the Amazon learn from the trees, plants and animals all around them.

“Closer to home, the tradition of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets began with him rowing the lakes and walking the hills and listened to the way the waters and landscape were speaking to him.

“By this stage in life people have experienced a great deal, so I want them to delve into their own lives and write about the things of deep importance to them.”

The day trips will include a visit to Dove Cottage and places that inspired William and Dorothy Wordsworth, as well as many other authors who are connected to the Cumbria and its landscape – such as Norman Nicholson and Sir Hugh Walpole. The aim is for Pascale, who is 62, to be an “enabler” for people with disabilities or from minority ethnic, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) backgrounds.

Cumbria, and Copeland in particular, have a rapidly growing older population and face growing demands for health and social care. The West Lakes Writers’ Residency project is a positive way to enhance the lives of some of the groups who are least well provided for with creative and enjoyable activities.

The wider Elements festival, which will include a photography project Here, Today and a films programme, celebrates diversity and the creativity of older people.

Peta Leigh, Health and Wellbeing Manager, Age UK West Cumbria, said: “We absolutely agree that there is a need for more events and activities to brighten up older people’s days in this part of the world. We’ve been trying to be as inclusive as possible in our work, and festivals like this would contribute greatly to raise the awareness of diversity in the older population.”

Tonia Lu, Elements festival producer, added: “Although our projects engage and celebrate older people and their creativity, the festival hopes to benefit the communities in Cumbria as a whole by giving people the opportunities to communicate and understand each other. For young people, they may find amazing role models like Pascale through our events, and for many others, hopefully they will see how open and accepting Cumbria can be.”

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About the writing programme

  • The opportunity is specifically designed for over-60s. Places are limited, those from minority backgrounds – (black and minority ethnic, LGBT and/or Disabled) will be given priority. Participants need to sign up by 4pm on the 8th of August.
  • The workshops and trips will take place between 24th August and 4th of October.
  • Find out more from http://www.elementsfest.com/call-for-participants/
  • Contact Tonia Lu, Producer, hello@elementsfest.com / +44 7956 336872

Activities will include

  • Six writing workshops taking place in Florence Arts Centre
  • Norman Nicholson & Percy Kelly: A trip around West Cumbria and areas that inspired the poet and artist.
  • Wordsworth: A visit to some of the landscapes that inspired both William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
  • Sir Hugh Walpole: Visit to areas in north lakes where the author’s prolific Herries Chronicles sit in.
  • Alfred Wainwright: A trip to some of the locations illustrated in his guidebooks.

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