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WAT march 2013 theatre by the lake keswick interviews, insights and images reflecting the northwest’s greatest literature festival

created by students of the university of cumbria


watermark production


editors’ letter


his edition of Watermark has been put together by University of Cumbria students from the Journalism, English, Creative Writing and Graphic Design departments. With special thanks going to the English students from the Lancaster campus. Despite the distance, Chandni and Chanel’s endless hard work has paid off. They have toiled tirelessly to get interviews with such a range of the speakers at this year’s festival. We doubt we would have been able to have such a rich and varied publication without them. We have enjoyed working closely with the graphic design students and would like to thank Dave and Josh for the hard work and effort which they have put into this magazine to make sure this edition is eyecatching, clearly laid out and interesting for everyone to read. We are delighted to include a showcase of poetry from students at the University of Cumbria, and hope you will enjoy reading the works of budding new writers. It has been a great challenge and a great learning experience putting this magazine together, we hope you will enjoy reading the wide range of interviews and profiles based on the speakers who are attending this year’s festival.

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Theatre by the Lake / The joys of live theatre, Introducing the Theatre by the Lake

4 5

Comic Wordsmiths / Virginia Ironside, Jon Ronson


Photography / Val Corbett


Nature / Miriam Darlington

8 .9

Thinkers, philosophers and campaigners / Melissa Benn, Rachel Holmes, A.C. Grayling, Free tickets for young people

Fiction inspired by the past / Tracy Chevalier, Pat Barker, Ronald Frame

10.11 Poetry / John Sampson, Michael Baron Student Poetry 12

Highlights / Chosen by the Watermark team

k e s w i c k , h e a t r e

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Joint Editors /

Poetry /

Martha Kane Rosina Kermani Helen Parton Samantha Ridley

One for Sorrow / Libby Edmunds Woman of Sin / Kirsten Glen Me you and the Moon / Deborah Mawson My Hero’s Cape / Matt Poynton

Literary Editors /

Background Photography /

Chandni Asher Chanel Diep

Martha Kane Oliver Malone

Contributing Writers / Design / Chandni Asher Chanel Diep Freya Gallagher-Jones Martha Kane Rosina Kermani Helen Parton Matt Ranson Samantha Ridley Laurence Williams

Dave Wharton Joshua Elliff

From the courses /

BA (Hons) Journalism, BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing, BA (Hons) English, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

keswick – home of theatre by the lake


ts warmth, beauty and buzz are some of the many reasons why people from all parts of the globe visit. Its character forged by those who live here and those who visit as a tourist. Keswick, with a current population of over 5,000 residents is a market town within the Borough of Allerdale in Cumbria. In the 13th century, it was known as Kesewic, meaning ‘farm where cheese is made’. The name is from the Old English ‘cese’ meaning cheese, with a Scandinavian initial ‘k’ and ‘wic’, so the name Keswick was born. Keswick is such a lovely spot around the beautiful Derwentwater, and is home to the Theatre by the Lake. It carries on the tradition of summer season productions which was started by Century Theatre in the ‘Blue Box’, a mobile theatre. The majority of Keswick’s businesses are tourism related and the town offers beautiful accommodation and a range of local tearooms and gift shops for the thousands of tourists who visit yearly. Keswick is perfect for an array of hobbies and appeals to children as much as it does adults. It offers so much with its industrial heritage and spectacular setting; those who enjoy a walk and to take the time to absorb its gorgeous scenery. It also appeals to the more adventurous who like to get involved in activities and hikes.

Writer / Rosina Kermani

Catbells Lakeland Walk and Keswick Adventure Centre are just two of the attractions for the adventurous or sporty ones amongst us. Whilst Honister Slate Mine and Trotters World of Animals offer a different type of exploration for many. The Cumberland Pencil Museum continues to amaze us with the World’s Longest Coloured Pencil at over 7 metres long! Workshops and art demonstrations are held throughout the year and a full range of Derwent fine art pencils are available to purchase in the museum shop. The geological formation the Bowder Stone and Watendlath Tarn at Keswick are wonderful natural sites to see. The National Trust Great Wood car park gives drivers the opportunity to park the car and stroll down to the lake shore through the woods. And of course, Keswick also boasts a literary atmosphere to its town, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge moved here with his family in 1800 and visited Wordsworth in Grasmere. Robert Southey was another poet who came to to the picturesque town and stayed with Coleridge, and due to each of them residing in the district, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey are known as the ‘Lake Poets’.

theatre by the lake


david ward / the joys of live theatre

Images / Theatre by the Lake

Live theatre is a wonderful experience, however as we find out in David Ward’s new book, Noisy Owls and Dead Nuns, sometimes things don’t always go to plan – which can lead to some very funny incidents Writer / Samantha Ridley


avid Ward, a former journalist for The Guardian, now the literary consultant at the Theatre by the Lake, has compiled an intriguing little book in which you can find the answer to the questions like; ‘What happened to the wandering cactus?’ ‘What were those two in the front row up to?’ ‘Who had a bad attack of wind?’ and ‘who kept forgetting to put his pants on?’ Noisy Owls and Dead Nuns – What the stage manager saw at a theatre in the Lake District, came about after David stumbled upon some of theatre’s stage reports. These reports record when shows begin and end and also detail any glitches which may occur with lights, sound or the sets and any other incidents on stage, back stage or in the auditorium. David said: “So I chanced upon the first report which is featured in the book about Mr Ingles suffering from an attack of incurable flatulence, so smelly it could be smelt in the stalls and so loud it could be heard in the wings and vice versa and I just started giggling to myself. I found there were stage reports for the entire 2011 summer season something like 250 to 300 reports from the six plays produced at the theatre during this time, I went through the lot and you know I kept giggling. “What I found is that some of our stage managers have a real iconic style in the way they told these things and I was intrigued by their formality as everybody is referred to as Mr or Miss and it’s done

in this kind of distant remote sober way and having read a lot of them and having picked out quite a lot, I thought well I think there’s a little book here.” The intriguing name of the book refers to a stage report which was found within the original text, under the heading inexplicable, in which a noisy owl was heard as vultures swooped down upon a dead nun, in Scene three of the play, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. The book has been well received with over 1,000 copies having been sold so far with good sales in both the National Theatre Book Shop in London and the Royal Shakespeare Company gift shop in Stratford. All the proceeds from the book go towards the Theatre by the Lake. David hopes the book will give the reader a little glimpse into the world of live theatre which he himself has much admiration for. “I think the wonderful thing in a world where computer generated imagery can allow films like Life of Pi to put tigers in lifeboats crossing the Pacific, is in real people on stage doing it in real time before your very eyes. It’s going to vary at every performance and the speed of the performance might change or it will vary according to the audience and perhaps also with the mood of the actors.” David will be on stage discussing Noisy Owls and Dead Nuns on the 4th of March with the help of company stage manager Joe Jones and also Peter

McQueen, the actor, who kept forgetting to put his pants on in the play Noises Off. David is very complimentary of both the actors and stage managers, who made the book possible. “I think the joy of it was both the way these reports were written by the stage managers and the total willingness of the actors involved to say, yeah go and do it they really didn’t mind. They took it all in good spirit and were extremely helpful.” David who usually works from his home in Cheshire is looking forward to presenting the book and spending the ten days of the festival in Keswick. “I am delighted to have been asked to do it as it’s a great chance to sound off about the book. It’s a good time to be at the Theatre because the place is always heaving with people and it’s really nice to see.” You can buy your own copy of his book from the Theatre by the Lake Box Office. Noisy Owls and Dead Nuns Monday 4th March, 5pm Studio £8.00

introducing the theatre by the lake Writer / Rosina Kermani


estled in its classical Lakeland setting, perched on the edge of Derwentwater, Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake is a spectacular location for the northwest’s most captivating literary festival, Words By The Water. Where else could you watch daffodils bloom and drink in the colours and fragrance of flowers and blue green water as you wander a lakeside, before going in to fill your senses at a glorious festival of words and ideas? This remote theatre has captured the imagination of many. While Words By The Water attracts around 14,000 people to at least one of its events every year, Theatre By The Lake has been bringing the magic of the stage to Cumbrian audiences and Lake District visitors year round ever since it was opened by Dame Judi Dench and her husband, the late Michael Williams, in 1999.

“You don’t expect a theatre to be tucked away in the middle of Lakeland but it looks as if it has always been there, as old as the dry stone walls or the pastures surrounding it,” says Guardian arts writer Alfred Hickling. Inside of course, it’s a modern and hospitable venue, comfortably proportioned for an area where the population is sparse but followers of the arts are ardent and loyal. The theatre’s vibrant and varied drama seasons are well received by audiences throughout the year. In the busy foyer stands Keswick sculptor Meryll Evans’ life-size bronze bust of Dame Judi and Michael, a rose on the actress’s shoulder to remember the rose he sent her every Friday throughout their life together. Both were long-time supporters of the Keswick Theatre project, now they watch over its success.


comic wordsmiths

Virginia Ironside / Catherine Shakespeare Lane

virginia ironside Who said growing old had to be boring? Writer / Chanel Diep


uthor and columnist, Virginia Ironside will be entertaining audiences at this year’s festival as she talks about her latest comic novel, No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses! and delivers her acclaimed stand-up performance Growing Old Disgracefully. Chanel Diep asked Ironside what she hoped readers would get from her novel: “I hope that they will be entertained and that they won’t be able to put it down and they’ll find it sympathetic and amusing. It’s meant to be a sort of book that you read perhaps when you’re feeling a bit low and when you put it down you feel better.” Her book is meant for older people written from an older person’s point of view. However, asking Ironside about her thoughts on younger audiences at festivals and also their experience with her book prompted frank and warm comments. “I think it’s a marvellous idea for students to be involved, as long as the events are tailored to the younger market but on the whole, literature events are rather like lectures, somebody getting up and telling the audience about their book. “Events aimed at younger people usually involve debates or questions from the audience and tend to be slightly more stimulating and if this festival is trying to organise events along those lines, I think it would be most interesting.”

During our interview I noted that what Ironside was doing was refreshing since most films and novels in our current society are heavily pointed towards youth culture. I was glad when Ironside did what she does best; informed me about the rising and wonderful existence of an older presence to which I was oblivious. When asked if she would like to see more work by and for an older generation instead of more young people oriented work, Ironside proved me wrong and said politely and frankly, “It’s interesting that you should say that because in the last six months or so there has been many more films made for older people. There’s been Quartet, Amour, there was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I think that older people are rather coming into their own now. I think it’s partly because older people aren’t quite as old as they used to be. “Mainly it’s because the baby boomer generation who were young in the sixties, that energy that we had in the sixties still informs most of us. We may not be brilliant on computers and iPhones but there is still a kind of energetic drive in a lot us to invent and break barriers.” Virginia Ironside is a force to be reckoned with. She is a refreshing voice is a sea of midlife crises and replaces the dread of growing old with a zesty zeal in its place.

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And her life motto is one which would surely apply at every age, at every moment in life. “This too shall pass.” Ironside notes that these words are to comfort you when you’re low, and also to remind you that even when things appear to be well and good, that too will pass. “Life will pass as well. We’re all going to be dust pretty soon. So not to worry. Nothing matters.” Growing Old Disgracefully Saturday 9th March, 8pm Main House £12 No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses Sunday 10th March, 4.15pm Main House £9


D o n’ t N e e d

G l a s s e s !

jon ronson

Writer / Chanel Diep

A comedy of triumphs


on Ronson, whose talents have lent themselves towards a range of successful endeavours from documentary filmmaking to non-fiction writing, released his most recent collection of insightful and sometimes comical narratives called Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries. Ronson is known for his way of infiltrating the realms of secret societies, and his books Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats were immense hits with the public, the latter was made into a major film in 2009 starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.

Ronson will open the tour of Lost at Sea at this year’s festival. This latest book features stories from Ronson’s life and work from over a period of twelve years. His passion for the life stories of the undiscovered and arguably strange people all over the world is a feeling that is tangibly evident through his writing. His often comic attitude towards these novel and diverse accounts is what makes him so appealing. Madness and Mysteries Friday 8th March, 5pm Main House £9

R e a d i n g

fiction inspired by the past Writer / Chanel Diep


tracy chevalier

Tracy Chevalier / Eammon McCabe

A new work of historical fiction from the writer of Girl with a Pearl Earring


racy Chevalier, predominantly known for her international triumph Girl with a Pearl Earring, rediscovers a fragment of the past once again in her latest novel The Last Runaway. In this book, set in America instead of her usual European backdrop, Chevalier takes us on the journey of English Quaker, Honor Bright and her experiences in 19th century Ohio. As part of Chevalier’s research into what the life of her protagonist, Honor, would have been like, she also took up quilting just as her character would have. Our heroine also parallels the author, who was born in America but spent her adult life in England. The displacement experienced and the adjustment

to the new environment for Honor is informed by the personal understanding of the author herself. Having Honor as an outsider looking in on the issue of slavery, places the reader in a first hand position along with the protagonist. There have been promising reviews already from the US and Italian release of the novel, characteristic of responses to Chevalier’s work. The Last Runaway Thursday 7th March, 4.15pm Main House £9

Girl with a Pearl Earring Thursday 7th March, 6.30pm Main House £12

pat barker

A story of wartime horror and despair


ward winning British novelist Pat Barker, who is best known for her acclaimed Regeneration trilogy, will be discussing her latest book Toby’s Room, at this year’s literary festival. Pat Barker was born in Yorkshire in 1943, and has had a very successful writing career which began with her first novel Union Street which won her the 1983 Fawcett Prize for Fiction. She has won many awards including the Booker Prize in 1995 for her novel Ghost Road, as well as being awarded a CBE in 2000. Pat Barker’s novels tend to focus on the following themes; war, loss, trauma and the sideeffects of combat. This is particularly shown in the Regeneration series, which focuses on soldiers suffering from shell-shock and combat stress, taking inspiration from real life cases of soldiers

experiencing such conditions on and off the battlefield. Barker’s interest stems from personal experiences; her step-grandfather suffered a bayonet wound in the war, and would not speak of it. Like much historical fiction, the trilogy features authentic names and voices as well as invented ones. Pat Barker’s latest novel Toby’s Room, set during World War One, deals with the loss of a loved one during the conflict , overcoming grief, and accepting the change that war brings to everyone. This book sees the return of several recurring characters from Regeneration, as well as the new character of Toby Brook, a Medical Officer who is reported to be ‘Missing, Believed Killed’. The novel focuses on his sister Elinor, who remains home as her brother goes off to war, and is left with the struggle that can only be felt when someone close is taken by war.

ronald frame

Pat Barker / Pat Barker

Writer / Laurence Williams

— Fiction and the First World War Sunday 3rd March, 3.30pm Main House £9

Writer / Matt Ranson

A tribute to Miss Havisham

C Ronald Frame / Alex Holroyd

ritically acclaimed author and dramatist Ronald Frame will be presenting his new novel Havisham to audiences attending Words by the Water. This new work pays homage to Miss Havisham, one of the most iconic characters in the entirety of English literature, and the despairing antagonist of Great Expectations. Havisham, a new take on the Dickens classic, tackles the previously unexplored history of the character in great depth. The author details her life and the events that take place before the start of the Dickens novel and attempts to explain the reasons behind the melancholy fate that Miss Havisham ultimately suffers. Taking such an infamous figure in literature, whose back-story in the original novel is only briefly touched upon, is a formidable task for any writer to take on. Other reviews for Havisham have been as equally enthusiastic about his handling of the character. Michael Prodger of the

Financial Times wrote, ‘Above all Frame manages not only to keep the reader interested when the outcome is already known, but to describe both the pathology and the horror of Miss Havisham.’ The expectancy placed upon Frame by readers acquainted with the original Dickens novel is measurable, but appears to have satisfied both fans and critics alike. During his upcoming appearance at the literary festival, author Frame will discuss Havisham, and explain in detail to the audience what inspired him to undertake such a challenging concept as the notorious character of Miss Havisham as the central subject of this novel. A Tribute to Dicken’s Iconic Character Friday 8th March, 12.15pm Studio £8



Val Corbett / Val Corbett

val corbett Capturing the beauty of rainy days Writer Chandni Asher

e r f e c t w i t h e o p l e


al Corbett is one of the most distinguished photographers of the Lake District. For the past 25 years, she has built a collection of photography that captures the rare and unseen beauty of the outer fringes of the Lakes. Val’s work is recognised on a national scale with her images being published in magazines such as Country Life and Period Living on a regular basis. Her recent publication includes the production of the book Gardens of the Lake District: a guide to the most beautiful man-made gardens of the Lakes. Written by Tim Longville, the book received the Lakeland Book of the Year award in 2008. Now, the celebrated photographer has taken on a new project to view a different side of the Lake District which she feels has not been portrayed before: “I was curious that though rain and the Lake District are always associated, there were very few photos - or indeed paintings that actually showed rain.” The area is notoriously known for its rain and recently, its flooding. Val has seized this concept and made it something to celebrate; which is a part of this beautiful county. “Many photos give an idealised portrait of the area, taken in perfect light and with no people. I thought it would be fun and refreshing to show the other side.” The exhibition that is taking place at the Words by the Water Festival will present some of her work taken during the floods that devastated Cockermouth and Keswick itself.

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I asked her whether there were any risks involved in obtaining these images: “I wasn’t in the town centres such as Keswick and Cockermouth during the height of the flooding - I’m happy to leave that to the press photographers who know what they’re doing! I went through some rather deep water on some roads, but that was about it.” Upon viewing the gallery you can appreciate the effort Val has gone through to retrieve the beautiful images the audience can enjoy. One such image shows the end of a rainbow just as the rain stopped. Val explained how it was one of her favourite occurrences: “Standing for hours getting extremely cold and wet at ‘Surprise View’ overlooking Keswick waiting for a surprise to happen, when the most brilliant rainbow occurred.” The beauty in the photography is one that can be compared to art. On viewing her pictures, she lays herself bare for the world to see in her love for nature and allowing the audience to fall in love with nature itself. Rainy Days in the Lake District Wednesday 6th March, 8pm Main House £9



miriam darlington Miriam Darlington / Miriam Darlington

Travelling the British Isles in search of the elusive wild otter Writer / Martha Kane


iriam Darlington is a talented and well established writer, who has found recognition through her collection of poetry and published literature. Living in Devon with her husband, two children and a menagerie of animals. Miriam leads an outdoor lifestyle and appreciates the pleasure in standing still and taking in the whole of the natural world which surrounds her. The ripple of a stream, the sound of birdsong, are things many of us wouldn’t notice unless they were pointed out. This is what Miriam does in her writing, she explains the scene in such intricate and impressive detail it feels as if the reader is there, standing with her. Miriam loves otters and has done ever since she read Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter as a child, hearing about their persecution it became her mission to find one in the wild. The author explains the moment of seeing an otter in the wild as; “magical, they have a wildness about them, but also strength and ferocity, great resourcefulness and determination.” Miriam views her book as an attempt to; “Find the real otter beneath the mythology and a journey into the British landscape.” Endeavouring to give an “otter nose level” view of our countryside. The Eurasian otter is the only otter to be found in the whole of the British isles, it lives in fresh water rivers and streams but can also sometimes be found in estuaries, however as Miriam says they do need access to fresh water as the salt in the sea clogs up their watertight fur. Since the 1990’s otters in the UK have been somewhat of a conservation success story. They were “persecuted to the point of almost extinction before making a miraculous comeback.” They are still however notoriously hard to spot and as Miriam says: “it’s not surprising that they are very wary of humans.”

Despite this Miriam has ultimately found ways for tracking and spotting the elusive little creatures. Otters produce black tar like waste which she describes as looking like “cigarette ash with fish scales”. This ‘spraint’, as it’s referred to, is proof that otters have been active in a particular region. It is frequently found in “prominent areas, as it is how they mark their territory. So next to large shrubs and trees, also places such as underneath bridges or on large rocks, you will also find that areas with otters are a lot greener as they are creatures of habit.” Next, once you know they inhabit an area she says: “you would need to go early in the morning and alone, it is really important to wear clothes that don’t rustle, as they have very sharp hearing.” This otter search has seen her travel the length and breadth of the country. Miriam is a regular visitor to the Lake District especially to Cockermouth and the area surrounding the river Duddon to the estuaries near Ulverston. Miriam’s most recent visit saw her visiting the river Cocker as she was interested to see “how otters cope when the countryside surrounding their habitat floods”. Unfortunately she was alarmed to find that they really suffer. Their cubs were washed away from for their riverside holts. She was however impressed with how the people of Cumbria and especially Cockermouth bounced back from the devastating floods. Otters are quite surprising in a number of ways. Looking at them they seem quite placid and friendly but, as Miriam suggests, they are actually very strong and have extremely dense facial muscles. But not only this they are remarkably resourceful, “the sea otter will use rocks to open clams.” It is rare for animals to be able to adapt in this sort of way, putting them amongst the most intelligent species on the planet. “The Eurasian otter actually spends the majority of its life alone; sometimes people will see cubs with

their mother and think it’s a group but they are actually solitary. Mothers do keep cubs with them for up to 18 months as they need to perfect their fishing skills before letting them go out into the world on their own.” Miriam is excited about her up and coming projects, hoping to continue with her love of writing, perhaps creating some educational literature alongside following her affection for the wild. Whilst camping in Northumbria, during her search for otters, she was stunned when a short eared owl landed right next to her. This has sparked an interest in owls and she hopes it will take her to Finland in the not so distant future.

In Search of the Wild Otter Tuesday 5th March, 11.15am Studio £8

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thinkers, philosophers & campaigners

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Writer / Chanel Diep


What modern women really want

n the midst of enthusiastic rapture for and biting backlash against the publication of the Fifty Shades of Grey series by E. L. James, we have undoubtedly reached a great landmark in literary history. The acceptance of what many deem soft pornography into the book charts challenges our social standards as well as inspires the public in turn to challenge these novels. Is Fifty Shades of Grey the breaking of a taboo to be celebrated or rather a step backwards into the objectification of women under the guise of groundbreaking literature? Watermark spoke to Rachel Holmes, one of the editors of the anthology Fifty Shades of Feminism, the volume in which fifty women, both young and old are asked what it means to be a woman in today’s society. What can a reader expect to take away with them after reading Fifty Shades of Feminism? A brain full of inspiration and firepower about what it means to be a woman today. Feeling super-strong and confident in the knowledge of sharing the world with the supportive company of great women. All this, and looking beautiful too: the jokes and hilarious stories are a workout for the facial muscles. Lisa, Susie and me suggest that Fifty Shades of Feminism is a new kind of radical supermodel that can be taken up and replicated by readers – it’s a call to arms: it’s inspiration to go out and find your own fifty.

Rachel Holmes / Rachel Holmes

rachel holmes

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Every community and campus can have its own feminist shades, connecting together into a world of conversations about where we are with feminism today. What is your favourite quotation, if you have one? Life’s too short to have only one favourite quotation: I have two new favourite quotations every day. Today, I’m living by two from Fifty Shades of Feminism: Rosa Luxemburg: ‘Freedom is always the freedom to think differently.’ Dorothy Parker: ‘The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.’ What are you looking forward to most at the festival? Sharing the exciting journey that has led to Fifty Shades of Feminism, hearing what readers think of our book, debating the questions it raises, and having a pint of Cocker Hoop. Fifty Shades of Feminism Wednesday 6th March, 6.30pm Main House £9

melissa benn Battling for Britain’s education

Writer / Chandni Asher


riter, journalist and campaigner Melissa Benn will be presenting her most recent book, The Battle for Britain’s Education, at this year’s festival. Watermark’s Chandni Asher spoke to Melissa about her campaign to promote the books argument for comprehensive schools in Britain. Melissa took the time to explain to me what inspired her to write about such a controversial subject for her latest non-fiction book. “I suppose lots of things,” Melissa reflected. “I went to a comprehensive and very much loved and enjoyed my school. I then sent my daughters to a local comprehensive. At the same time, I’m aware that education is a contested, highly political question in this country. Through my own, personal knowledge, I felt there was an argument to make in favour of this country having a genuinely comprehensive system. It really came out of my own experience and political beliefs. The more that I have written and talked about it, the stronger I feel about it.” Melissa’s experience in the world has led her to the position she is in today, and that began from a comprehensive school. But what does writing this book prove and what does it mean to Melissa?

“I feel very strongly that we will never have a fair system, as long as we have the parallel world of private schools that educate the well-off and as long as we have grammar schools, which evidence shows also now educate the well-off, though they began as a way of helping the lesser well-off to get a good education. I think the twenty-first century model of education is a comprehensive one.” The aim of the book for Melissa is to allow herself to channel a cause that she feels is worth fighting for, “Now that’s a noble aim, but it’s quite a complicated thing to bring about in a very unequal society. As you often have families from highly educated backgrounds, who are very wealthy, who frankly don’t want their children learning alongside children who have very little cultural capital. There are so many issues around it, but I feel it’s possible and I would like to contribute towards that argument.” If the pure dedication to the cause behind Melissa’s book wasn’t reason enough to do so, this is why you should consider picking up her book. “I would say that I tried to write it as a really compelling story. A lot of people might think of any policy area like education and think that it would be rather dry or technical. I tried to write it as a series of unfolding stories. A story about the society we have;

a story about the educational system; a story about the people running our schools today; a story about parental conflict and anxiety; a story about how we might do it better. What I would hope is that they would pick it up and be compelled by those series of stories.” The Battle For Britain’s Education Saturday 9th March, 12.15pm Studio £8

Melissa Benn / Melissa Benn


thinkers, philosophers & campaigners

a.c. grayling Humanism: an alternative to religion

Writer / Chanel Diep


p l e n t y

he philosopher, writer and academic A.C Grayling, will be giving audiences something to think about when he presents his new book, The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism, at this year’s festival. Watermark’s Chanel Diep spoke to Grayling about his latest book and his views on the Words by the Water festival. When asked for a favourite quotation, A.C Grayling gave one of his many favourites, Paraphrasing the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, Grayling said with a tone which made his sincerity on the subject most apparent, “We should give people what we give a picture; the advantage of good light.” By this, Grayling went on to explain, he meant that we as a worldwide community should “when we first meet people try to see them at their best.” It is this viewpoint which is asserted in his newest publication The God Argument, a book which targets as Grayling puts it, “Everybody on both sides of the rather bad tempered quarrel there has been in the last decade or so about religion, about religious belief and about the place of religion in the public sphere.” The founder and Master of the New College of Humanities in London stated that he hoped his book would offer a third path from the quarrel on religion, which he put as, “The case for saying that if one doesn’t have a religious outlook, then the alternative to it is that of a very rich, a very deep view of the world and of our responsibilities to live in the world and to be considerate towards one another, and that’s the Humanist tradition.” Indeed talking to Grayling has that exact effect. His calm and measured way of speaking makes you feel as though here is a man who has carefully weighed the pros and cons in life and attempts to live his own life in the most wholesome way possible. That is not to say that he is a self-proclaimed exemplar of goodness; Grayling jokes himself that his vegetarian lifestyle and abstinence from alcohol, though it must make him appear to be very boring indeed, actually just leaves, “plenty of time and energy for other more interesting sins.”

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It would seem as though the Humanist tradition really is a whole lot of common sense; a dedication to live a fruitful life connecting with the rest of the world in a good-natured way. It resonates of E M Forster’s most famous quotation ‘only connect’, words that briefly put forward the simplest solution to our problems but yet also opens up a great myriad of possibilities. To pursue a positive connection with, and to strive to see the best in the people around us sounds like such an idyllic yet natural way to live. Hearing these views would make it wonderful for Grayling to have as much positive influence on our world as Forster has. Grayling is looking forward to presenting his ideas to audiences at this year’s Words by the Water Festival, believing in the importance of this type of literary event. “In our current age where everything is reduced to 145 spaces on Twitter or something, it’s really great that people should be encouraged to have some serious engagement, or even if it’s leisurely engagement, with literature.” The intention of the organisers of Words by the Water to encourage a younger audience to participate in such a culturally rich event was responded to by Grayling who said: “I think it’s wonderful really for people to meet the authors, the name on the book which of course tends to be just anonymous until you know the person.” To end with praise for the festival itself and the wonderful location of Keswick, Grayling said of his thoughts of speaking there that, “The beauty of the lakes and mountains to say nothing of their literary associations with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Hazlitt, de Quincey, Ruskin, Melvyn Bragg and many more makes talking about books there an extra pleasure.”

e n e r g y m o r e

i n t e r e s t i n g s i n s

A.C .Grayling / Mykel Nicolaou

Humanism Saturday 9th March, 2.30pm Main House £9

free tickets Connecting young people to literature

Writer / Helen Parton


he organisers of Words by the Water are offering free tickets for young people to attend the festival through their bursary scheme ‘Enquire and Inspire’. Young people aged 17 to 25 can apply for this brilliant opportunity and if successful, they will be able to choose to attend up to 10 events of the whole festival. Kay Dunbar, the Festival Director spoke about why this bursary is important: “We want to encourage young people to become festival enthusiasts. There is a huge number of regulars who wait with excitement each year to see who is coming to Words by the Water; we want to extend this number to include a new audience of young people.” Second year history student, Joe Holt voiced his opinions about the bursary being offered: “I think the free tickets are a good thing to do as it gets young people interested in writing as it is a declining past time.”

“Another reason why it is a good thing may be that most 17 to 25 year old people are still in education and this opportunity to go to such a prestigious literary festival will give the ambitious next generation of writers something to aspire to.” The offer of the bursary began last year and the organisers, Ways With Words hope that it will be a success and continue in the future. The project’s organiser Alice Ling spoke about the benefits for the people who take part: “Those who came last year had a great time and attended events on a range of subjects. There are so many events in the festival programme that whatever your interest, it’s likely there will be something for you. We hope to see even more young people take up the offer this year.” To apply to the bursary scheme, please contact Alice Ling at 01803 867373 or by email:



michael baron

Michael Baron / Phil Rigby and Country Life magazine

Writer / Chandni Asher

A poetic tribute to Cockermouth


“It grew, really, I started trying to get in touch with authors at first, but some of them did not write to order, as such. So, I started looking into the history of Cockermouth, and looked more, and before long I think I got up to about a hundred names, going back over two or three hundred years!” When I look at the anthology, I find myself fascinated with the pure level of history within one book, a history that relates specifically to one town. I found myself asking Michael what he feels the anthology represents. Is it the town or the floods? “It’s a hybrid,” he stated, again in his straightforward, humble way. “If you look closely at the poems that are in the book, you’ll find the word ‘rain’ is the most common word in all the poems.” The poets who have been included into this anthology are poets who have visited Cockermouth rather than ones who have lived within the town. So, to view Cockermouth through this anthology is to view the town as a traveller, a person who has newly introduced him or herself to the area. Authors featured in the anthology include the likes of Andrew Motion, Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy, writing and adapting their work in order to aid Michael in his quest of this anthology. The anthology also includes much older poetry, with the likes of

William Wordsworth, Isaac Wilkinson and Brian Kirk, all of whom have experienced Cockermouth, with Wordsworth himself being born in the town. “It’s a pretty eclectic collection, yes… that’s the right word!” Michael summed up The Cockermouth Poets Friday 8th March, 5.30pm Studio £8

Michael Baron / Karen Sawrey

ocal poet Michael Baron, will be presenting his latest anthology, The Cockermouth Poets: 17002012, to this year’s festival -goers. Watermark’s Chandni Asher spoke to Michael to find out more about the inspiration behind this new anthology. The poetry was brought together not just to celebrate the history of poetry about Cockermouth, but also to commemorate the anniversary of the floods that shocked the nation in 2009. The local poet took it upon himself to bring forward an awareness of how the town survived and moved on from the tragic event. When I interviewed Michael, he expressed his passion for his anthology through the way he spoke with sheer enthusiasm in his voice. “It comes out of the idea to commemorate the floods after the first year,” Michael explained to me. “I got in touch with people and we got together about twenty-five poems, or so, and got some money together and distributed them within the town, putting them in shops and shop windows.” I wondered how the idea grew into this anthology that we are being presented with today. He explained to me that it was the feedback given to him by people in the town, which led to the decision to publish the poems in an anthology.


john sampson Our enigmatic Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the virtuoso folk musician John Sampson join forces again for an event of vibrant poetry and music. Writer / Freya Gallagher-Jones

Duffy/Sampson / John Sampson


aving worked together for 10 years, the modernity of Carol Ann Duffy’s poetic genre, intertwined with the early music style of Edinburgh based musician John Sampson, is set to be a well sculptured and sensually stimulating event. Carol Ann Duffy is famed for her distinctively simplistic approach to grappling intricate and complicated issues. Duffy has written an array of poetic and dramatic works, as well as a great number of children’s works, including a collaborative adaptation of the ‘Grimm tales’ with Tim Supple. Furthermore, Duffy’s works are included in the English Literature GCSE syllabus. John Sampson is a well-known, all round performer in the UK music and cabaret scene. He features an array of unusual instruments in his performances. He is also renowned for his poetic collaborations with poets such as Carol Ann Duffy and Stewart Conn. I asked him a few questions about his own work and the material he has done with Carol Ann Duffy. First of all, why do you enjoy the combination of poetry and music? “It kind of dates back to Tudor music and echoes that really. In the Tudor era performers always combined the two. If you look at opera it is there too. But it does bare the question; does the music detract from the word? My music is all instrumental and Carol Ann and I have been performing together for 10 years so, I hope it doesn’t take away from the poetry.”

You’re quite a versatile performer. If you had to choose your favourite style of performance; be it cabaret, acting, purely musical, spoken word or any of your many other performance arts which would you choose? “Oh no, I can’t really say! That is like asking someone to choose between their children! I really do enjoy performing will Carol Ann. I also really enjoy performing early music.” What can we expect from your performance with Carol Ann Duffy at Keswick? “Hopefully something professional and really interesting. It should be fun. I play a lot of different instruments such as: the Crumhorn, Gemshorn, Shalmie Pipe, Posthorn, Recorders, Cornettino & Chinese Halusi; which I perform between poetic sections and underscore some poems. It should be entertaining and we do focus on sad things as well as the fun things. It’s good to bring in the power of music to accompany it.” Carol Ann and John have worked together for ten years and reviews of their performances together are always well received. The performance is set to be a particularly spellbinding and energetic combination of two very great artists. Poetry and Music Friday 8th March, 8–10pm Main House £12



My Hero’s Cape I wear it round my neck, my hero’s cape. It drags along the floor if I wear it round my waist.

apart from one. The day we celebrated his life and mourned that he was gone.

It still has his smell, car oil, warmth, security. It reminds me of all the love he used to give to me.

I wore a shirt, a tie, pants and smart shoes. People cried and talked, about the things we loved he used to do.

The cape hugs me round the neck. Tight tied in a knot. Absent are his arms, all the love i’ve lost. I wore it every day,

I held my mothers hand, and comforted her as we cried. She thinks I’m too young to understand, but I understand fine.

I know that to my father, I have to say goodbye... I understand fine, but will never understand why.

Writer / Matt Poynton

OE T R Y One for Sorrow

Me, you and the moon

Woman of Sin

Caged in its breast, Its little heart beats, For another, A far away lover, Black and white against a grey sky, A single soaring magpie, A symbol of sorrow, Observers left hollow, As they wonder when misfortune will hit, Is it the magpie that is the culprit? Does trouble follow or does he follow it? Upon its’ wings rests a longing, A need for belonging, To be one of a pair, Amidst the cold air, This magpie cannot fly, Far enough to find, Another so far away, Unable to give way, To predictions of joy, Instead it is bound to destroy, Suppositious peace of mind, A task to which it has been confined, To fill each of its days and hours, Did he ask for these powers or is it simply ours, Under which the magpie cowers?

Luminosity, chaste brilliant silvery moon I listen to your call and I feel you pulling me Carrying me en route for you in the vein of a soul leaving a deceased.

I am a woman of sin. With each sunrise I struggle, like a sloth with lethargic claws. I see through mine eyes

My saunter on others lips. I am a woman of sin. With each night, a temptress escapes, sleek velvet on my hide.

You encompass me and now I’m yours You cover me, i’m connected. Sensitive to breathing your current around me Satisfying me with a force so intense I’m breathless, i’m winded I’m torn apart, transparent for you. My body is a whisper of you.

the slow pace of life. I am a woman of sin. Over indulging like as a pig in the mud. I trough

A panther; so risqué in nature, dangerous in temperament. I am a woman of sin. My monochrome feather’s

my treats, my pink lips stained with temptations. I am a woman of sin. My skin’s the deep emerald

a warning to all that shines, their glistening; an addiction. My beak a thief, my wings an escape. I am a woman of sin.

of a green tree python, I twist and hiss. My mind is so simple, my nature so vicious. I am a woman of sin.

Writer / Kirsten Glen

Writer / Libby Edmunds

Gravitating toward another resembling me, a beast, a creature like no other, just me. There is something about you, me and the moon. I feel irrepressible, I feel alive At one with the soil upon this earth Like a monster I’m susceptible severely to your aroma The odour of you makes me ravenous I want to consume you beneath the power of the moon The spirit of the skies The god who controls the emotion in my body. I am poetry in your motion, I am the expression of my creator, I am the verse that connects me to life itself. Me, you and the moon.

Writer / Deborah Mawson

A grizzly bears temper so tame in comparison to my own. My red haze hits like the power of its paw. I am a woman of sin. The tallest antlers, the sleekest neck, my pride, like a stag’s, always on show.

Sandi Toksvig / Steve Ulathorne

monday 4th march

friday 8th march

Gavin Francis / empire antarctica

Luke Harding/ russian mafia state

Explorer, travel writer and working doctor, Gavin Francis talks of his experiences and the solitude surrounding his fourteen month stay in the Antarctic.

Luke Harding was a foreign correspondent for the Guardian based in Russia. He discusses his book about his personal experiences in the country as he felt the influence of Russia’s security service.

11am Main House £9

12.30pm Main House £9

wednesday 6th march Val Corbett / rainy days in the lake district

friday 1st march Sandi Toksvig / comedy and fiction The well known and respected television presenter, successful author and comedian talks about her new novel where a young woman, donning her cousin’s army uniform, goes off to fight in the Boer war. Sandi has always had an educated and amusing take on life which will surely make for an entertaining afternoon. 4pm Main House £9

Arthur Smith / exposed! BBC 2 star of ‘Grumpy Old Men’ Presents an evening full of amusing anecdotes, short stories, jokes, poetry and more. 8pm Main House £12

The successful photographer showcases her work taken in the most realistic and possibly dreadful conditions the Lake District has had to offer, it will be a light hearted affair presenting some unique and inspiring photography. 8pm Main House £12

thursday 7th march A Morning at Greta Hall A celebration of poetry brought together in a historic and fine Georgian House which has been strongly connected to some of the most famous Lake District poets. Senior lecturer in English at the University of Cumbria Dr Penelope Bradshaw will be the tutor and homemade refreshments will be included, the morning will end with a seminar and discussion over Wordsworth’s poems. 10.30pm–1pm £22

Michael Baron/ the cockermouth poets Cockermouth is renowned for its literary figures; not least being the birthplace of William Wordsworth himself. Baron explores the many poets who have connections with the idyllic town. 5.30pm Studio £8

thursday 9th march Polly Toynbee & David Walker / cameron at half-time A reflection of David Cameron’s govern over the British people by one of the most acclaimed female journalists in the UK today. Toynbee will be speaking on the subject alongside her husband David Walker who is a writer and editor for the Guardian newspaper. 6pm Main House £9

Arthur Smith / Catherine Shakespeare Lane

our pick

Watermark 2013  

Interviews, insights and images reflecting the North West's greatest literature festival - Words by the Water. Produced by students from the...