A new version of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lyrical ballad, reimagined by those who experienced homelessness, will be shown alongside the original.
A leather-bound copy of Crow Refuge: A New Lyrical Ballad for the 21st Century will be delivered this afternoon to the Wordsworth Grasmere Archives, the Wordsworth Trust’s home of the Lake District poet Grasmere a tourist attraction. , provided by some of the people who contributed to this book.
Their work is also part of the Crow Refuge exhibition currently on view at Wordsworth Grasmere, a contemporary retelling of lyrical ballads through poetry, art and song. All contributions are made by those experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable groups.
The project was led by Julia Grime and poet Phil Davenport, who collaborated with around 100 people in a series of workshops and street discussions in the north of England.
In addition to the workshop, the approximately 30 people involved in the project took four research trips to Wordsworth Grasmere, where they saw and worked on the original manuscript of the lyrical ballad.
The Lyrical Ballads were published anonymously in 1798 by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge; four of the poems are by Coleridge and the rest by Wordsworth. They feature stories from ordinary people and address issues of homelessness and poverty in poems such as “Wanderer,” “Goody Black,” and “Harry Gill,” as well as “The Traveling Old Man.” Wordsworth published a second volume of Lyrical Ballads in 1800.
Jeff Cowton, Chief Curator and Head of Learning at Wordsworth Grasmere, said: “Poetry in Lyrical Ballads is about making people who live and surround themselves human. [Wordsworth].
“Through the lyrical ballad, Wordsworth said that everyone matters, and that’s what this exhibition is about.”
Placing the new version of the poem alongside Wordsworth’s original is a “privilege of work written by the homeless,” Graham said, describing the new lyrical ballad as a “remix” of the original.
Showing the pieces side-by-side, says Grime, “is a bit like saying, if we don’t really stop and listen to everyone in society, instead of just going after anyone, things are going to get really bad. Shout out loudest, or whoever is. Get the most money.”
Dom, one of the project’s participants, said that if Wordsworth were alive now, he would be talking about “the cost of living”, as in the Goody Black and Harry Gill poem about a A fence belonging to a rich peasant harvested illegally by a poor old woman.
Dom said Wordsworth would write about homelessness “for granted” and would be “frustrated that the public has so much willingness to help the poor, but it never matters in politics. “.
Another participant, Ric, said that participating in the project felt like they were “taking the work of a famous poet and redefining it for the 21st century to help people grasp” the concept of homelessness.
“Before I started writing, I was afraid to get into my own thoughts and feelings,” says Rick. “I feel more comfortable with myself now, and I know I’ve reached out to people I’ve never met. I’ve reached out to them.”
Davenport said that “poetry bridges the gap between people”, and he hopes the exhibition and poetry will help people get rid of “all those judgments and negative stereotypes about homelessness that we all make”.