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

Papyrus Skin by Steve Toase

First they scraped out the organs, slopping each into a chipped jar then sealed with cork and sinews of wax. Next, they scoured the blue skin with coarse crystals of salt, washing the residue away with rusted water.

During the night we crept into the candle lit room, making our beds in the corpse’s chest cavity. Arching ribs stretched a roof of skin above us.

Our sleep was broken by dreams of black haired dogs with painted eyes.

When morning came we tried to clamber out, but yellowed bandages were tied around the papyrus limbs, the death mask fixed over shrunken eyes and there was no longer any way for us to burrow out from the deathless corpse.

(Harrogate pump room museum has a small Egyptology collection)

Papyrus Skin by Steve Toase

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

The Tattoo Machine by Steve Toase

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Barrel of a Bic Cristal biro (clear)

Duracell MN1604 Alkali 9V battery

The rotary motor from Hitachi TRK-W350E Radio Twin Cassette Player

One roll of insulating tape (Black)

Single needle (Sterile. Unused)

Ink

When I got older I learned the home made tattoo machine was a lot quieter than the professional ones. Only slightly more advanced than those used in prison it was not tethered to a transformer so was easier to move around. I sat on the bed, pillow pushed between me and the wall, wrist level in front of me. He held my arm in a surgical gloved grip and dipped the needle tip in a small cap of ink.

The point percussioned my skin, pushing in the pigment. A splinter of damp engorged plaster. A small mote of glass from when the window pane slid down, sashes slashed. A speck of ash from Chefchaouen in Morocco.

Waiting until he moved the needle from my arm I shifted a little in my seat and looked out of the permanently open window. Beyond the painted over frame an unsettled sky rested upon the roofs.

Holding the machine in the air he snagged a sentence of conversation trapped against the architrave and two bars of song not heard since the waters were a three times a day devotion. I felt them sting as they ground into my skin, mixed with dark blue pigment.

Pausing once more he caught the forgotten memory of a disapproved of visitor, calling the morning after a fortune losing game of baccarat, and the vodka fumes still rising from the carpet where the bottle was kicked over the night before. They outlined the small cross blooming through blood on my arm.

Finished, he wiped my arm with disinfectant soaked kitchen roll and dismantled the machine to remove the now stained needle.

The tattoo is not big, but carries the room and stays under my skin still.

The Tattoo Machine by Steve Toase

Howl for Harrogate by Jem Henderson

In a town of white orange tick tock clockwork people,
in among Stray-side green yellow chalybeate sulphur fed succulence opulence,
where skag-addled junk crews ferry deals across the darker areas of town ,
and purple yellow white flowers peek up from ice-crusted drop points under giant looming elm trees,
haunted gaunted hippies waiting for the next big fix,
poverty and speed and endless nights their only source of nutrition,
where one million pound mansions press up next to dole scum queues that lounge under shaded avenues,
where Bilton churches hand out the only warmth and fuel in town, the fires of damnation banked up to keep these paupers warm,
who laugh and shit and cry in mould old stone bedsits, three to a room,
where youth is stamped down by the foot of depression and disability, forever young, untold fractures of fragile minds,
causing nightmares, shivers, DTs, the uncomfortable on the nod gouch in a lonely magnolia hell of their own,
brains full of the nonstop jabber of a lonely schizo on the bus home,
to tell his head friends that at least he spoke to someone that day.
From Broadacre backstreet fighting and gangs, forgotten penury in the town of the rich,
to Duchy Road, the elephant graveyard of the rich old fucks of Yorkshire,
who’d rather feather their nest eggs than even see those around them too hungry to even ask for handout,
not here in Harrogate.
Still a queer odd strange Dickensian nightmare.

Howl for Harrogate by Jem Henderson

Well Head by Steve Toase

well

1.
The spring blossomed in the middle of Jenny’s room, unfolding through the carpet, pooling water between the mattress and the single, sun faded, armchair. She thought about drinking the discoloured water, scooping it in two hands and sipping as much as her stomach could bear.

The smell clung to her fingers, stinking of Sunday school damnation and unclean fridges. She left the spring alone, babbling water across the dirt trodden carpet, washing over dropped rizzlas and scorch marks.

2.
Returning, Jenny found the hole bigger, circular. Mattress balanced on the edge as if vomiting into the well. She pulled the bed back and leant it against the wall. Reaching down she felt the walls, stone-lined and slick. Thick with algae that stuck to her fingers like foundation.

The room’s single bulb was too pale, unable to cast light to the water’s surface. With no pebbles she picked up a scratched CD, watching it cascade down the well until it clattered into the flat water below.

Using an old mug tied to a length of electrical flex she dipped into the sulphur water and pulled it up, hand over hand. The stench filled the room, leaching into her clothes and bedding. Clinging to the torn wallpaper. Tipping the water down the sink she watched it swill between unwashed plates.

3.
Pine needles in the tread of Jenny’s boots became dislodged and pierced the carpet. For a moment she smelt forests and untouched snow. She closed the door behind her. The stone of the well head crushed against her chair’s frayed upholstery. Welsh slate like broken teeth lined the roof, capped with a worn stone acorn. From inside came old songs about drowning whose tunes she did not recognise.

With no way to reach her bed she curled up by the door until the frost of the morning slid in through her open window and woke her from a fitful sleep.

4.
Crouched on the landing Jenny listened to her neighbour in the next room swear at someone long dead. Her door was gone. In its place large slabs of gritstone, arched at the top. The masonry blocked the gap completely. At chest height was a stone bowl, a single metal tap venting the breath of dead volcanoes. Beside a verdigris’d button a notice like a stolen road sign told her not to drink the water.

The healing of this town was not for her.

Well Head by Steve Toase

Cenotaph, Summer of 1995 by Becky Cherriman

The air effervesced with gossip and Newcastle Brown,
you were lying across me,
your head in the childless give of my tummy:
my hands were entangled in your braids, hash-numbed.
In those days it was possible to surrender to the sun
while above us the memorial loomed, tall and glittering,
grey-white as Edwardian dresses worn by ladies drinking Taylors,
as Harrogate skin, as the bones of those it remembers.

Cenotaph, Summer of 1995 by Becky Cherriman

I Grew Up In Harrogate by Richard Harries

I grew up in Harrogate
Affluent
My Dad was rich
A director of ICI
I went to Ashville College
A boarder
Though my home was in town I boarded

My mother died
Then within weeks a stepmother arrived
So fast
I was hurting still
Bewildered
Time passed
And I was not welcome home
Homeless in the holidays
So I went to friends
And relatives
Stayed with them

But then I left school
Grew up
Stayed with my sister for a while
But then
The time came to leave
Stand alone
Dad was now in Belgium
I was not welcome
Got jobs
In bars and hotels

Moved into a bed sit
On Stray Rein
It was dirty
Lonely
Awful
An old woman rented a room
Not a home to me
Not allowed to see her telly
Or sit and speak with her

Her dog shit in the bath
For which she charged ten shillings extra
The bath, not the faeces
She was not surprised by this
When I complained
The final straw
Was when she made me a coffee
(breakfast was included )
There was a dead spider floating on the top
She neither saw it
Nor cared

I gave notice and she tried to screw me
For an extra months rent
Even though
she knew I had nothing
And worked in a bar

It was a dreadful start
To my life as an adult
I left school looking to the future
Excited
Then this
I grew up in Harrogate

You can watch Richard read his poems about homelessness and bedsitland in Harrogate here

Richard Harries, ‘The Bard of Withernsea’ lived in Harrogate, Leeds and now in Withernsea. A performance poet, he has a one-man show around East Yorkshire, in cafes, charity events, older persons homes and at Holiday camps to children. His poems are varied including comedy, anecdotal life stories, children’s poems and historical ones.

I Grew Up In Harrogate by Richard Harries