And still, whenever men and women gather
for talk and laughter on a summer night,
shall not that lamp rekindle; and the room
glow once again alive with light and laughter;
Wilfrid Gibson, The Golden Room
In the summer of 1914 a group of friends gathered in the village of Dymock, Gloucestershire to write and share poetry, drink cider, go on long inspiring walks, and support one other in their creative journeys. This brief flowering of fellowship was captured in Wilfrid Gibson’s poem, ‘The Golden Room’, long after the tragedy of the so-called Great War had scattered them, exactly a deadly toll.
2014 is the centenary of the start of the First World War – when there will be a plethora of events exploring this devastating conflict. It is also the centenary of when the Dymock Poets gathered together in the eponymous Gloucestershire village – moving there with their families, to write and share poems, publish, go on ‘walks-talking’ rambles of the area, and enjoy the bonhomie of a brief, but important creative fellowship. From out of this coterie of six poets, comprising Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfrid Gibson, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, and Rupert Brooke, came some of the most loved poems of the English language (e.g. Adlestrop; The Soldier; The Road Not Taken, etc). Thomas and Brooke were to die tragically young in the First World War, while Robert Frost was eventually to become the grand old man of American poetry, living into his 80s and winning the Pulitzer Prize four times. He always talked about the special friendship he had with Thomas (‘The most important creative friendship I ever had’). The Golden Room celebrates the legacy of the Dymock Poets and creative fellowship of all kinds.
Later this summer I will be co-hosting a celebration of the Dymock Poets (26 July Subscription Rooms) with my friend Jay Ramsay. There will be talks, performances, film, art and discussion about their legacy – and, critically, an acknowledgment of writers living and working in Gloucestershires in the present day, who continue the Tradition.
Whenever a creative gathering takes place – when artistic kindred spirits break bread and share ideas, enthusiasm and inspiration – I believe a ‘Golden Room’ is created. Developing this notion, I have created a radio show of the same name – inviting writers into the studio to share their words and dreams. It was planned as a series of six monthly programmes – each one with a theme. The first one (‘Inspiration’) was due to be broadcast on Tuesday 25th February at 4pm – it was pre-recorded and edited – then last week I was notified the station (Stroud FM) was shutting down unexpectedly. It had gone bankrupt! As they had only green-lighted my show a couple of weeks before this seems like catastrophically bad planning. However annoying and frustrating this set-back (the challenges of running a community radio station on a shoe-string…) I decided to keep going with my Golden Room project as a podcast (for now) – so here it is!
See you in The Golden Room…
THE GOLDEN ROOM O1: INSPIRATION
DJ: Kevan Manwaring
- La Celtie et L’infini, Alan Stivell/Intro – KM
- Chanty’s Welcome (song)
- Yirdbards – Tramp Song/Why is Stroud inspiring?
- Nobody’s Business/A Tale of New York – Tim Bannon Poetry
- Poor Boy – Nick Drake
- Robin Collins – Woven in Stroud/Time Raft
- Black Bird – Rachel Unthank and the Winterset
- In My Craft or Sullen Art – Dylan Thomas (read by Peter Adams)
- Featured Writer – Denis Gould, Letterhead Press Studio, Cycling Haiku
- Up on the Ridgeway – Ridgeriders
- Poetry – Pablo Neruda (read by Gabriel Millar)
- Caroline Herring – Black Mountain Lullaby
- Pitchcombe House – Gabriel Millar
- Bees Wing – Mad Dog McCrea
- WB Yeats – The Song of Wandering Aengus (read by Tim Bannon)
- White Birds – The Waterboys
- HSL, La Zag/Diary – KM
- Uffington – Chantelle Smith
- Thought Fox – Robin Collins
- Featured Writer interview – Denis Gould
- May You Never – John Martyn/Farewell – KM
Let me know what you think,
and look out for future Golden Room podcasts…
You never know, a radio station might pick it up!