Subhadassi at Old Sunderland port area

Subhadassi's Literary Project Work includes a Poetry Film Residency 1999 (New Writing North) and Wall, Window, Ceiling, Floor, a collaborative project with poets and visual artists. Publication includes Sublunary Voodoo, Mudfog Press (1998); Up, Prop and The Other Poetry (1999); Poems published in Urthona, Smith's Knoll, and The Echo Room Yearbook (1998). His work has been broadcasted on Sounds from the Border BBC Newcastle (1999). Subhadassi received a Northern Arts Writers' Award, London Buddhist Arts Centre Award and New Writing North Mentoring Scheme Award (all in 1998).


 

OLD SUNDERLAND POETRY RESIDENCY

In May 2000 I was 'resident' in the port area of Sunderland - doing research, writing, and leading workshops exploring the history of the area - some 1300 years of it since Benedict Biscop bought the land for "2 silk cloaks" to build a monastery that would house, among others, the Venerable Bede. Not to mention the port being the entry point for the Asiatic cholera epidemic of 1831.

The residency's 'product' was to be in the form of an education pack for schools incorporating a 'trail' for pupils to wander round the area.

Having looked at a number of education packs which seemed very dull, I decided to write it in the voices of two Sunderland characters - 'The Blue Girl', Isobella Hazard, who was the first person to die of cholera in Britain in 1831, and Jack Crawford, the hero of the naval Battle of Camperdown. These two ghosts take the children on an at times fairly gruesome circuit of the old port - from bridges to ferry landings, graveyards to orphanages.

I very much enjoyed working with members of the community in situ, and was surprised at how the locals knew of the history of the area - people in Sunderland are very proud of the area they live in. A sense of place is very important in my own work, and it was lovely to engage with a location that I was unfamiliar with from a primarily artistic perspective.

Subhadassi

 

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