Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poet shot on the Opium bed in Coleridge's study, Greta Hall.

Photo: Max Wallis by Annabel Williams

Ever since Wordsworth launched English Romanticism with the publication of Lyrical Ballads, the wilds of the Lake District have been synonymous with poets baring their souls. But this weekend an assortment of male poets were persuaded to bare a little more for a charity calendar shot amongst the "vales and hills".

Dreamed up by Wild Women Press co-founder and poet Victoria Bennett after her two-year-old son was diagnosed with type one diabetes, the calendar saw a male poet paired with a female photographer for each month of the year (plus one extra month "for all the things you never have time to do"). The duo were then asked to interpret a poem donated for the calendar by a female poet, from Wendy Cope to Penelope Shuttle, Moniza Alvi and Pascale Petite.

"We were looking at things we could do to raise money and awareness of type one diabetes. I run Wild Women Press and my focus has always been trying to promote and give a platform to women's writing. Late one night I came up with the idea of a poetry calendar – I wanted to explore the idea of the male muse, as opposed to the female muse," said Bennett. "I decided I didn't want it to be just poets getting their off, which, let's face it, is a niche market. So I started to approach women poets, from the very well known to the just coming up, and they've all contributed poems [for interpretation]."

The male poets range from early 20s to late 60s, and include Eric Gregory and Newdigate award winner Antony Dunn, Alan Buckley, Graham Eccles, Alexander Hutchison and Max Wallis, while the photographers are both established and less so, from Annabel Williams to Tamara Peel.

The calendar shoot took place in the Lake District this weekend, with Greta Hall, home to Southey and Coleridge, one of the locations.

"We shot on the ledge where Coleridge used to write, on the opium bed in his study, by Southey's desk," said Bennett. "We figured Coleridge would have approved. Once upon a time Wordsworth, Byron and others used to gather there. Now we have a different group."

Ed: Now, turn your minds to Aussie poets: Les Murray, Robert Adamson, John Tranter, Andrew Taylor and Andrew Lansdown, John Kinsella, Anthony Lawrence, Bruce Dawe? Maybe you'd like younger ones ... I'm out of touch, but perhaps Nathan Curnow, Kevin Gillam, Graham Nunn? Photographers? Send me a list - or applications! burkeandre(at)gmail.com

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