Peter Street and Steven Waling
Poetry in Chip Shops


Steven Waling's publications include Mee-Mawing: Selected poems (Tarantula Jan 96), Invisible Mending (URE Group Press 1994); What the Snow Believes (Scratch 1992); and Riding Shotgun (Smith/Doorstop 1989). He reviews for City Life, Prop and The North. His poems have appeared in Stand, Verse, and The Rialto. He is the editor of Brando's Hat Magazine (with Sean Bôdy and Francesca Pridham), and he helped organise the first Manchester Poetry Festival for Commonword Publications.



Wigan Borough Council was awarded a grant from Poetry Places to create Poetry in Chip Shops - a key focal community meeting place. Peter Street and Steven Waling took up the challenge.


Here is an extract from Peter Street's account of the project:




As pre-arranged with Wigan Youth Services a group of young children aged six to eleven and their mums were brought along to Brian's Fry In, which is a chippy in Ince, which is on the outskirts of Wigan. Mark Whittaker from Radio 4 had come along to record the event to present for their Poets in Residence week which was going out on the programme Yours. While Mark recorded an interview with You and Steve and I, some of the children had started to chalk their poems on the pavement outside the chippy. Wagon drivers who had stopped to enter the chippy were taking time out of their busy day to read the children's pavement poems.


There was a feeling of freedom, everything seemed so natural. Especially when the children started to read their poems into the microphone. There was no shyness, no embarrassment. There was a feeling of togetherness, because everyone was doing the same thing: writing poetry, and for these future poets, it seemed a perfect day, they were at last doing things they really enjoyed, with no rules, in or outside the chippy where no-one was bigger or better than the next person. Also, to us, what was very important was that the children were on a par with the adults, where everyone shares the same experience when eating their fish and chips. The kids were smiling, enjoying the experience. This is what poetry is all about. Also what was nice for me as a disabled person was that the children saw me, and not just my wheelchair.




Young Poets Network