Ely Cathedral to provide the inspiration for new poetry as part of unique project

Ely Cathedral and its founder St Etheldreda will provide the inspiration for new poetry from writers of all ages as part of major new project to stimulate creativity.

Prize-winning poet Jen Hadfield will bring Places of Poetry to Ely, using the incredible story of the foundation of the cathedral to help people pen their own verse.

As part of Places of Poetry a stunning digital map of England and Wales has been created to encourage people to think about the environment and history around them. People can pin their own poem on the map, which consists of two layers: an artistic map, based on decorative seventeenth-century county maps, and a second layer of Ordnance Survey data, allowing users to zoom in to a high level of detail.

Jen will work with almost 200 pupils from two local schools, Lantern Primary and Ely St Mary’s. They will learn about the life of the cathedral’s founder, St Etheldreda, an Anglo-Saxon princess who later became a queen. Etheldreda later turned her back on royal life to become a nun and later the founding abbess of Ely Monastery. Pupils from Ely St Mary’s will also go to Ely Museum to find out about Fenland life through stories. Children will “pin” their poems on the digital map.

Jen’s first collection, Almanacs, won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003. Her second collection, Nigh-No Place (Bloodaxe 2008) won the T. S. Eliot Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and her most recent volume was Byssus (Picador 2014).

Jen will also be at Ely Cathedral on Saturday, 22 June with the Places of Poetry team, who will be on hand to talk about the project and answer any questions.

Places of Poetry is led by the poet and broadcaster Paul Farley, of Lancaster University and the academic Professor Andrew McRae at the University of Exeter.

Professor McRae said: “We hope the map will inspire people to write, whatever their age or experience, and fill the map with thousands of new poems about places that mean something to them.

“The aim is to encourage people to think about heritage from different angles, such as environmental, industrial, religious, cultural or sporting. We want to celebrate the diversity, history and character of the places around us.”

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, and is made possible by partnerships with the Ordnance Survey, The Poetry Society and National Poetry Day.

For more information and writing tips, visit www.placesofpoetry.org.uk

Press release from Ely Cathedral

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