Ann Sansom, Heartbeat Project
Aldeburgh Trust

This project brings a poet in to work with the song group Heartbeat, to explore their own potential to write lyrics which might be used for future music commissions. Heartbeat is a song group for women based in rural Suffolk; their aim is to provide opportunities for women of all ages and abilities to sing in professionally led workshops, exploring musical styles and influences from all cultures.

Ann Sansom

Ann Sansom's collections include Romance and In Praise of Men & Other People (both Bloodaxe Books).
She has worked in many schools and is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation, the WEA, and The Poetry Society.

'One more glass of wine, and then he's gone ...' at which point the ideas get bawdy and there's that say-anything free-wheeling that often happens when a group of women friends get together. It's the Blues version of their new lyric that's setting them off, but they can sing anything, any style, and once they settle on the real mood of the song - relief not misery - there's no stopping them. These are their own words. They've pooled some of the writing from our workshop; felt-tipped extracts and short poems on a roll of paper, spread it out like a banner, and (with the ease of - what? old friends? musicians? ) set about editing and improvising and harmonising. An hour and they're singing what sounds like a classic. At the break, someone goes out for a smoke, whistling it. I hear a 'first draft' twice right through and it stays in my head for weeks.*
And they have a good half dozen more to work with. Pieces on childhood and jealousy and how to succeed at parties. On denial and on the luxurious solitude that follows the departure of a guest - which is where this particular song started.

They're still surprised to have written as they did, still a bit awed by what surfaced and how much. But in a sense it was inevitable. They read, they love words and rhythm, and they trust each other.

Two weeks later they're still working on the piece, adjusting and polishing, with the help of Sian Croose, their occasional workshop leader. She has played an important role in the development of the group and knows their strengths as singers. This talent for songwriting is something new and I hope it develops. They have the energy of beginning writers and the discipline of a committed group. It was a joy to work with them.

*cd available - soon - from Virginia Storey 01502 478660 
Young Poets Network