Saboteur Awards 2016

Last Friday, Becky, Steve and Tessa travelled down to London for the Saboteur Awards, where Haunt was shortlisted for Best Collaborative Work. We didn’t win (you can see the full list of winners here http://www.saboteurawards.org/), but we got to meet some great people, including A.B. Cooper and Sarah Miles from Paper Swans Press, and had an excellent night celebrating the health of poetry, spoken word and performance at the moment.

When we got back there was an email waiting with comments from those who had voted for Haunt. What was really striking was how everyone who commented got what Haunt is about. They understood the project, and what we’re trying to achieve.

Thank you to everyone who did vote for us, and your continued support. As Becky says in her blog post we make no apologies for sharing them here:

Haunt addresses very real issues in a new and innovative way.

A brave collaboration which aims to celebrate voices that are rarely heard whilst creating innovative work of high artistic quality.

It gives a voice to the voiceless.

Standing way above the rest with originality and great collaboration shining through the work.

Because they are great!

Brilliant project about homelessness which has produced a genuinely lovely book.

Moving, innovative project that gets to the heart of a city.

They are doing very important work in a creative, innovative way.

A wonderful fully cooperative project, raising the profile of a group of people often hidden from sight in towns like Harrogate. Gives them a voice in an original way.

The quality of the work and the depth and range of the community involvement.

Writing in the ultimate social sense.

Shockingly direct and unselfpitying accounts of people’s lives below the surface appearances of how things are meant to be.

It challenges cultural stereotypes and highlights that homelessness can be present in even the most well to do societies.

Because I grew up in Harrogate so this caught my attention and then haunted my dreams.

Innovative, forward thinking productions always, opening up debate about things that really matter. Very original way of looking at things, and opening the door to solutions.

A wonderful anthology giving a creative outlet to hidden voices and hidden talent and one that has made a real difference to the writers involved.

Innovation and fun.

Integrity.

I was particularly enthralled by Richard Harries.

Because the project allowed people who would likely otherwise be left out of arts activity to engage and get enjoyment from finding a voice.

The project has helped vulnerable people to have a voice.

For making a rather invisible subject visible through creativity and warmth. Inspiring, artistically brilliant and socially important.

Great piece on a growing issue in Yorkshire.

Managing to combine a great cause with some great stories. Giving opportunities and experience whilst raising awareness. All round a fab project.

Powerful work. Project which engaged and supported a group who really need it.

Well written and a great piece of work.

Brilliant work.

In aid of such a well deserved cause.

They’re the best collaborative work.

Excellent.

This is a beautifully haunting trip through the other side of Harrogate. The writing is powerful. It may just highlight the reality of towns and cities to the invisible people that are present there.

Just love it.

Covers an important and often neglected area of life with great sensitivity and empathy.

Very moving, on the important issue of homelessness, with participants who have been encouraged to express their real life experiences.

The book produced is great and the ongoing work of the project is raising awareness of homelessness in a town which many people wouldn’t believe has a problem.

My home town is perceived as affluent and privileged. Growing up there, I’ve often called it a schizophrenic town. In Haunt we see the other side, portrayed in a way the posh half would appreciate.

Because they are reaching out to include the excluded in society.

Intrinsic, honest, moving

They have achieved real social value as well as creative worth artistically.

amazing & evocative work

Extraordinary work tapping into the imaginations and the life experiences of some of the most marginalised people in the region.

Fantastic project, really opening people’s eyes to another side of posh Harrogate.

Because while there’s homelessness, we are all haunted, and this project is making a tangible impact.

They have done some amazing projects with the youth hostels that has been really effective

Positive work with the complex young people we support.

Amazing and moving.

Fantastic project that worked so well with our service users to produce some beautiful work

Really important project working with vulnerable people

Great project, giving people their own voice.

Having experienced homelessness and seen it’s impact first hand on many others in my hometown, this is an innovative and valuable project.

This is a genuinely collaborative project with one of the most excluded groups in society. It has led to some great art as well as opening up new opportunities for socially excluded individuals.

Because the project reminds us that homelessness and transient lives aren’t just a ‘far-away’ problem of big cities and deprived places… and, more importantly, reminds us that the homeless are real people with voices and opinions and likes and dislikes – rather than the blank receptacles for pity or charity that we’re all guilty (at times) of seeing them as.

The work they do raising awareness of the problem of homelessness, particularly in such an apparently affluent area as Harrogate where many do not realise it is happening, is amazing and important.

Because it is powerful and truly collaborative.

To encourage further collaboration between artists and venues that increase local knowledge and situational awareness. What Haunt has produced is not just a splendid piece of work, but establishes that effective, entertaining multidisciplinary approaches are eminently possibly.

Innovative, creative, inspirational.

The innovative approach to the project and the engagement with the homeless community amongst others who have collaborated on this work has been truly inspiring.

Homelessness education should be important to everyone.

Good writing and good work.

Beautiful powerful project.

The stories they are telling, in the setting they chose, and the way they are telling them.

Extraordinary work from (generally ignored) homeless people.

A sensitive collaboration between professional writers and non-professional, sometimes completely new, writers. Beautiful writing and a poignant insight into human fragility, and the fragility of our perceived ‘security’.

Very moving work about an often ignored issue.

Innovative, inclusive and local, what is not to like?

For helping those who don’t usually have a voice get their stories out there.

They are doing very important and creative work for the local community and are great poets themselves.

An important and deeply emotional project for the socially excluded.

Great collection of stories, well written.

It’s a great enterprise involving many fine Northern talents.

Compassionate and well-crafted responses to current issues of homelessness and the ways that contemporary issues can haunt us by doing as well as doing nothing, through writing and film.

For all the help and awareness they are raising. And the hard work that’s gone into the project.

Saboteur Awards 2016

Shortlisted for Saboteur Awards

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This weekend we received the fantastic news that Haunt is shortlisted for the 2016 Saboteur Awards in the category of Best Collaborative Work.

To just get shortlisted in such good company is brilliant, but to win would be amazing.

So many people have collaborated on Haunt, from our lead writers, Steve and Becky (who have both experienced homelessness and vulnerable housing themselves, and Tessa Gordziejko and Elenid Davies from Imove, to Paul Floyd Blake who took the photos for the anthology.

We have also collaborated with Bean and Bud to exhibit Paul Floyd Blake’s photos alongside writing from the project, with Harrogate Homeless Project and Foundation UK to find participants who wanted to be part of Haunt. Bean and Bud, and Corrina’s Homeless and Vulnerable Project let us host pop-up readings. Harrogate Museums have included work from Haunt in their Harrogate Stories exhibition, putting the experiences of our participants at the heart of the town, and let us hold our anthology launch in the Royal Pump Room Museum.

The main collaboration at the heart of the project has been with the participants who have experienced homelessness or vulnerable housing in Harrogate. Some have written before, others not since school. Whether sleeping rough, couch-surfing or living in bedsits at constant risk of eviction all came along to share their own stories.

Some of our participants wrote fiction, others poetry. Some pieces were hopeful, while some were cynical or tragic. Each piece captured, in the writer’s own words, what it was like to experience homelessness or vulnerable housing in a place where you are haunted by the town’s opulent identity, a haunting that, in many circumstances, takes your voice.

If you could take a few moments to click on the link and vote for Haunt Harrogate we would be very grateful.

Thank you for your help.

www.saboteurawards.org

 

 

 

Shortlisted for Saboteur Awards

Haunt Launch Photos, Exhibition at Bean and Bud and Harrogate Advertiser Article

On Tuesday 27th October we held the launch for the Haunt anthology at the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate. With a large audience in attendance Steve introduced the project, talking about the background to the idea. This was followed by readings of the work in the anthology from Steve, Becky, Jem Henderson, Richard Harries and Nick Stirk.

Launch 4 Launch 3 Launch 2 Launch 1 Launch 8 Launch 7 Launch 6 Launch 5

(Photos courtesy of Emma MacEwan)

We’re very grateful for the support from Harrogate Museums that has seen work from Haunt included in the Harrogate Stories exhibition, and enabled us to launch the anthology in a building so synonymous with Harrogate’s spatown.

During the performance we also showcased the photographs taken by Paul Floyd Blake for Haunt. These played behind the writers while they read, creating powerful juxtapositions with the poems and prose.

Paul Floyd Blake’s Haunt photos are currently on show at Bean and Bud in Harrogate.

The anthology is currently available to buy, in person, for £5 from;

Bean and Bud

Royal Pump Room Museum

Mercer Art Gallery

Waterstones Harrogate

This week the Harrogate Advertiser ran a great article about the project.

advertiser article

The next event is on the 11th November in York. Steve and Becky will be performing work from Haunt at Speaker’s Corner in York, the regular spoken word night at The Golden Ball. Entry is £1, with open mic slots available.

Haunt Launch Photos, Exhibition at Bean and Bud and Harrogate Advertiser Article

Launch of Haunt anthology and future workshops

On the 27th October we will be launching the Haunt anthology at the Royal Pump Room Museum. There will be an opportunity to hear work from the project read by participants, contributors as well as Steve Toase and Becky Cherriman. There will also be a chance to find out more about Haunt and the inspiration behind the project. Map.

We will also be running two new workshops on the 24th November and 1st December. These are open to writers and those who would like to write who are experiencing, or have experienced, homelessness or vulnerable housing in Harrogate.

Please click on the images below for more information about both the anthology launch and workshops.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Haunt flyer 1

Haunt flyer 2

Launch of Haunt anthology and future workshops

The Haunt Anthology Back From The Printers

Very proud to say we now have copies of the anthology back and they look fantastic, filled with excellent writing from particpants as well as contributions from Becky Cherriman and Steve Toase.

Below is a small sneak peek at the cover and some of the contents. Keep checking back for news about the launch and further work from the Haunt project.

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The Haunt Anthology Back From The Printers

Privets by Becky Cherriman

Here they are, an army of privets

in parade along Slingsby Walk.

They belong to Southerners

who arrive, seduced by flower shows,

tea rooms, Victorian splendour

to grow their children on Harrogate water.

++

The word privet is thought to originate from prime

– noble, distinguished, first –

although there is no evidence of this.

++

Gathering together to form such dense thickets,

they displace natives,

elbow them onto grass verges.

Strangled into the light, the smaller plants

are soon frosted with the remains

of white dog shit, forgotten.

Privets by Becky Cherriman

Chewing the Cud by Steve Toase

Tethered to the sink in the shared kitchen the cow looked confused, though it was a close run thing who was at that moment more perplexed.

I tried to squeeze my way past, keeping away from her mouth. She looked at the dirty floor, unsure where her grass had gone.

Reaching over I turned on the kettle. The cow made no noise. She tried to push over the fitted cupboards to make more space. Failing, she sat down. Her full udder slumped to one side. I watched the cow and the cow watched me, neither knowing what to do.

The kettle rumbled to a light dimming finish and I poured the water over the cheap teabag. Opening the fridge there was no milk on my shelf, instead a note.

“Sorry. We used the last of your milk during the night. We hope this replaces it. Sorry again.”

I looked at the cow and the cow looked back. Shaking my head I spooned out the teabag and went back to my room with my cup of black tea.

Chewing the Cud by Steve Toase

Tenancy Agreement, extract from Yellow Brick Roads, as yet unpublished novel by Becky Cherriman

Haunt 2

It is 1995, a Saturday afternoon, and tonight Fern and her friends will head to Leeds to a club. The chapter opens with the group sprawled out in a self-contained flat in Harrogate.

There are never fewer than three people here, even when we’re asleep. Me and Sean might be the only ones on the tenancy agreement but James, being homeless, is here all the time. He said it’d be temporary but he’s been here for, let me think…it must be over a month now. I watch him, slouching on his elbows on the floor. He sees me looking. He’s got bad red eye – must be really caned. I don’t think he’s even started trying to find somewhere yet. I could mind but James is fairly innocuous – good word that: having little or no adverse or harmful effect – a Lou word. Besides, I like it, have always had people around me.

The only downer about it is that me and Sean can’t fully go for it when we’re having sex. When he first moved in, James dropped some sarky hints about moans and groans and strange rustling in the night. Funnily enough he’s gone fairly quiet on the subject since Sean told him we had to do it sometime and that if he didn’t like it, he could find a higher class of hotel. Truth is, Sean buzzes off having someone in the room. I’ll be trying to be as quiet as possible and he will suddenly thrust really deep inside me so I gasp. Bastard. Still, I suppose having an audience is better than there being no performance at all…

Anyway, what was I thinking about? Oh yeah, all the people coming round the flat. Cheltenham Mount is definitely the place to be in Harrogate. The problem is, it’s getting to the stage where me and Sean have very little control over who comes round. People who’ve been to a party here or who’ve been round with a mate once get to thinking they’re welcome every day and start bringing ‘just one or two’ friends around to score. Lately it’s got a bit much.

Can I have a bath?” James asks. The stereo’s halfway through Dougal’s Love Of My Life, which I hadn’t even noticed coming on. Must be all the smoke in the air.

Yah man, go for it,” Sean tells him. “You know where the towel is.” The other one is going mouldy in the laundry basket.

We really do need some more towels,” I say. Two months on already and no one has actually managed to find the nearest launderette yet. If it’s absolutely urgent, I’ll go to my sister’s to do the washing but I really don’t want to see her, let alone crawl round, asking favours.

Nah, it’ll be right. We’ll just go to your Lotus’s,” Sean says brightly.

It will not be alright. I ..do… not.. want to go… to my sister’s just… to do some washing.”

She won’t mind.”

Evidently stoned or he’d have picked up on the tone in my voice.

Come off it Sean, you know how fucking superior she is.” I affect the mock upper-class voice my sister has adopted since she moved to Harrogate, “‘Well, if you had a job, you’d be able to pay for your own washing machine. You’re a clever young lady, Fern. How about some office work?” And then she would produce the local paper, dump the job page on my lap – so fucking predictable.

So. Just ignore her.”

Easy for him to say but there’s no point in trying to explain. He just doesn’t understand why I don’t want to have to answer to Lotus. It’s alright for him: he can lie his way out of awkward questions, will maintain till he’s blue-faced that he’s been to three interviews that very day but that there just aren’t enough full-time jobs to go round. That last bit is true, even in a wealthy small town like this. Personally, I would consider a job in which I was permitted to use my brain but unfortunately I don’t have the qualifications – the brains but not the qualifications. And I absolutely refuse to work in a dead end job. I don’t want to be anaesthetised by the system and neither do any of my friends. Won’t catch us being neatly-packaged by society. Not like my sister, a twenty four year old newly-wed who’s just bought her three bedroom semi, is working as a personal assistant to her husband – one of the directors of a small retail outlet – and is planning two point four children in the near future. I shudder. Besides, as I’ve told her over and over again, it’s not as if we don’t want to work; it’s a matter of principle. I mean what’s the point when there isn’t even a minimum wage? Anyway, the last time I went to see her, she whinged about me only coming round when I wanted something. There’s no way in the world I’m giving her more ammunition by asking if I can do my washing.

Do you want to go into town now?” I ask Dan, seeing the necessity of escaping before I start shouting at Sean or someone turns up and it becomes a major mission to leave.

Alright.” Dan launches himself off the sinky chair and pulls me up. Unlike Sean, he seems to have noticed me getting annoyed.

_________________

Me and Dan leave the flat and turn left up Cheltenham Parade. Dan stops at the nice bakery to buy a Cornish. I wait outside and a snooty old woman in a lavender coat uses her elbow to nudge me out of the way. This is what I fucking hate about Harrogate.

We walk on the road to pass the townie kids outside McDonalds. I’m wearing my jeans and Dan looks like an older version of them so we don’t get any comments today. They’re always giving James and Sean stick but it’s cheeky rather than aggressive; James and Sean either laugh or ignore it, depending on their mood.

On the grass near the cenotaph there is some kind of scuffle. Dan grabs my jacket with his fingers and pulls me closer so we can see. Some bloke is running after the scrawny Big Issue seller with the ripped-up trainers, the one who usually stands outside Woolies. He catches him, spins him round by the collar and swings. Looks twice the size and, even though we’re about fifty feet away, I can see how much the poor dude is shaking.

Shit, it’s Cafferty.” My hand goes to my mouth.

That’s not Cafferty, that’s…”

I take my eyes off them to look at Dan. “It’s Cafferty,” I repeat. “Who did you think it was?”

Nobody.” He flushes.

Look back and Cafferty’s still beating the faeces out of his latest victim. The man’s magazines are strewn all over the road and he’s not even trying to fight back. Cafferty is holding his collar with one hand so the poor bastard can’t fall to the floor. With it being Saturday, there are fuck loads of people about but that’s not stopping him. Then a siren starts up.

Tenancy Agreement, extract from Yellow Brick Roads, as yet unpublished novel by Becky Cherriman

The Knight-giant In The Wall By Becky Cherriman

Nobody but the knight-giant knew why he had left his cave and transmogrified into the wall of a cliff. But the question was the subject of local rumour up until the last century, after which such debates were, somewhat predictably, removed to academic institutions.

The knight-giant was one of the few from the York district to have made it back from the wars but, on returning, he had found himself without shelter. Worse than that, Miriam’s first reaction to his knock at the door was to draw back and wring her dress through her fingers. He had witnessed enough abroad to know at once that she was no longer a maid, done enough to allow him to forgive her for that. But seeing himself through her wary eyes, not a brave man but a scarred man, ganglier even than he had been before he went away, he realised he had been foolish to hope that she would open her arms to him, seven long years on. There was no denying it; the cords of their betrothal were severed.

As he left Miriam’s place some young uns leapt up from the mud where they were playing and scattered. Quick enough to catch one of the smallest by the scruff, he lifted him up to eye level. ‘Does Mrs Adcock still abide by the tanners?’

The boy stopped struggling and began to cry.

A girl of about twelve edged towards him. Mary-Ann, Louise’s eldest? The boy’s sister, most likely. ‘Mrs Adcock’s passed on two years hence, Sir.’

The cold stone of grief filled his stomach.

She gulped. ‘Will you put him down? He thinks you’re a ghost.’

‘He might be right, at that.’ And the knight-giant put the boy down with a gentleness that hadn’t left him though he’d had little cause to use it for many a year.

A little way down the street, was the farriers. He paused by the door but either his old friend Peter was intent on the stubborn stone in the hoof he was examining or he was too afraid to offer him a hello.
Because he could think of nothing else to do and because war and the journey back had made him used to walking – not all knights had the privilege of a horse to ride – the knight-giant left the village. Pebbles pressing through the thinned leather of his shoes, he pushed his way into the forest. And for days and the nights that followed, he trudged without sleep in the circles of wolves, tormented by the ghosts every soldier carries with him.

By the time he came to the cave on the banks of the Nidd, he had walked off much of his grief for his mother and Miriam, much of his resentment at a country that only valued its soldiers on the battlefield, for villagers that could not bear to be reminded of the wounds he had gained for them.

He carved a bed of stone from a fallen rock and took up residence in the cave. It was a natural hollow, small, but it never grew very cold and the woods had berries and rabbits enough to keep him. Besides, apart from the rush of the Nidd, it was a quiet spot and after the clatter of war he was glad of that, so glad that he pledged to honour its tranquillity by keeping his silence until he had something to say.

It was in his daily baths in the nearby dropping well that his gashes began to heal, their infections soothed by the saline water. His fractured bones benefited too, mended with the calcium carbonate that filtered through the rock into the waters. Unlike in the village he hailed from, those he met at the well did not retreat from him for they understood well that those wounds could not be passed on to others. Yet he didn’t speak to them for he still had nothing to say.

Every day from his cave he watched handfuls of them trudge along the riverside – pilgrims in pain – watched them walk back, often a little lighter, until one day, after the shadow of noon had passed, a bright-eyed young boy stopped at the cave mouth. John had noticed him because he had passed both ways several times over the last few months and because of his limp that did not improve for all his visits to the well.

The boy swung his stiffened leg into the cave and asked a question. After eighteen months of silence, the knight-giant found it was a question that he could answer, and so he did. The boy went away with the limp he had come with but lighter nevertheless and he did not visit the dropping well again. After that the knight-giant had many visitors, all with questions that he found he could answer and they all went away lighter, unless gravity was what they needed, in which case that was what they found.

This way of things went on for more years than anyone knows until one day the knight-giant left the cave and took up post a little further along the cliff. It could be that from outside the cave he found it easier to hear the prayers uttered by the torrents of the Nidd or that he simply liked the feel of sandstone against his back or perhaps he knew that one day a man would carve a holy place into the cliff and would need someone to protect him and his icons. It is not known whether from his place as sentinel of the rock he continued advising the pilgrims that came by there or whether he had run out of words altogether. But what is known is that he had showered so frequently in the waters and breathed in so much of the calcium carbonate in the stone that his flesh eventually solidified to rock.

So if, on the course of your pilgrimage, you visit Knaresborough and happen to have a question, do pose it to that knight in the cliff, just at the entrance of where the chapel is now. Listen carefully for his answer before standing beneath the dropping well to let those waters wash over your skin. Only take care you don’t stay too long.

N.B. This story was inspired by the etching on display at The Mercer Gallery 7th Feb-21st June. ‘St Robert’s Church at Knaresborough near Harrogate Spa in Yorkshire’ by an unknown artist.

The Knight-giant In The Wall By Becky Cherriman

Impish by Steve Toase

haunt 1. Sulphur

The sulphur turned us impish, nestling in our marrow like a hiding toddler. Staring at our faces you may have noticed small nubs of keratin erupt upon our foreheads. Behind us dragged our tails of thorns and fox tongues.

We did not inflict our mischief upon others. All our tricks were inward looking. We were both Grifter and Mark.

Our horns we hid. The girls with concealer, the boys with fringes that scraped their eyes. But our tails? Oh, we were proud of our tails. We bedecked them with ribbons and lengths of neon climbing rope. Bottle tops that caught the light, and some with bells teased from the necks of friendly cats. We dressed them like we were mingling at Carnivale, and we were proud of them. Yet they were treacherous things, our tails. Their thorns snagged three score times a day. Sometimes upon ephemeral things like a whispered word. Or the glance of those taking afternoon tea beyond a window we would never see from the other side.

Other times they caught in the route of a store detective. Shifted his footsteps until they fell in behind ours. The dance moves of the uniformed were never as rapid and staccato as those tapped out by our cloven hoofs.

On curtained days the thorns of our tails became knotted, tearing into our sheets. Became wrapped around with strands of brown and blue smoke. In the dark the fox tongues whispered words to us like blackberries. Some sweet. Some sour. We picked ourselves free with care, thread by thread.

2. Chalybeate

The chalybeate turned us ferrous, seeping into our skin like midnight thoughts. If you looked close enough at us you would see cuisse and revebrace cleave to our limbs. Plackart wrapped around our torsos. Vental covering our face when we no longer wished to talk. Yet we had no oils to care for the iron that wrapped us. No wax to rub into the once polished surface.

On our slow walks around town, feet weighed down by rusted sabaton, blisters of corrosion chipped off with each step. Our armour became shabby with each encounter. Rusted crumbs littering the well-tended grass where we lounged. Where we avoided people and homes that were not homes.

3. Magnesia

The magnesia turned us luminous, woven through our fingers like strands of radiance. No-one paid us attention, but we glowed. The midday sun at midnight. Magical and out of place. We gleamed and glittered. They ignored us. We knew this was because the brightness under our skin would scorch their eyes out. So they stepped aside and lowered their heads away from us. Glanced anywhere but in our direction.

Impish by Steve Toase