I am swept up in the city I live in and its history, aspirations and feelings in every part of my life, in my family, friends and the projects that I work on. I am producing on two seemingly separate projects by art form and commission yet both of them overlap in the ways they are representing this place that I think is my muse.
The first project and my main day job is with Eastern Angles Theatre co, who have been producing regional tours in the east region for over 30 yrs and have been working in Peterborough for the last five years and the latest production is a culmination of a huge archiving and oral history project called 40 years On, which charted the city’s changes since 1968. The play is called River Lane and it is sewn together with over 70 local community performers, costumers and volunteers. Tony Ramsey the writer has pieced together a time capsule of bendy decades that stretch beautifully. Also to top it off with a cherry its staged in a pop up theatre space in one of the newest places in Peterborough, Hampton and Serpentine Green. https://www.easternangles.co.uk/
The second project is being lead by Blok Collective with their partners Paper Rhino and they have been commissioned to use public and visual art to re- imagine the 1000 square meters of wall space of the Cowgate Underpass which is a major gateway to the city. As part of the development for the artwork, the project teams interviewed artists, historians and key people within Peterborough and starting to weave a tapestry of stories, legends and colour that again bends time and perceptions. At the moment there is an exhibition of art from the project in the city gallery of Peterborough Museum and as part of this I wanted to write a poem inspired by the research and when I started to write I was surprised by the overlaps between the two different commissions. This new poem will also hopefully feature in the exhibition form the 16th of May till the 25th of May. http://www.blokcollective.co.uk/wordpress/
The poem is based on a famous poem by Adrian Henri and not only do I love the original but I realised that without this strange place that sometimes kicks me in the teeth, I would be nothing and no where near the Keely I kind of like.
Please take a look and let me know what you think, by the way there is some personal references which friends and family may recgonise.
The Ballad for Peterborough
Without you there would be no John Clare declaring what I am, whilst riding a flaming wagon of political fire into Whsmith’s.
Without you the Roman ninth legion would have never got wet in the fountains and then lost in the upstairs of the Guildhall.
Without you drunk, lusty dancers forget how to shuffle in the mystery of Flag Fen to Len Boone’s, Love won’t be denied.
Without you lasers could never cut shapes of the front of the Cathedral into George Alcock’s naked eyes that later became star maps.
Without you no one would dare Walter Cornelius to push a pea with his nose between burial mounds of lions and whales.
Without you gravediggers called Scarlett, live forever young and only bury goldfish instead of two Queens.
Without you the oldest boats ever found, stay underwater like the Sage family from Gladstone street in their final kiss upon that one unsinkable ship.
Without you there are no onions made of glass that were grown in the grass roots of muddy paint brushes and late night myth
Without you the barn owls on Whittlesey wash tut at Sir Harry Smith’s shame in amongs’t the ash of the burning USA.
Without you pimples could have never turned into the world’s first mini-roundabout, instead they stay on the faces of punks in the bus station.
Without you building houses of love that burn in its clay, quarries would sit unused, silently humming that love is inevitable.
Without you and your fastest growing hopes and noble green backyards there will be no Peter’s or boroughs to sing too.
By Keely Mills
Beltane/ April 30th 2014