The image is a photo of Stonehenge taken from a car driving on the A303. The ancient stones can be seen in the near distance with faded green grass in the foreground and a blue sky with white clouds above.

The impact of receiving funding on my creative practice: update about a 2018 Local Artist’s Bursary

Poetry is a slow business, at least it is for me. In 2018 I was awarded a local artist’s bursary of £2000 from Ginkgo Projects/Bloor Homes to write poems in response to the landscape in and around Amesbury. I wrote a little about the bursary and my research for the poems on this blog as follows:

In this post I talk about my first steps in planning and beginning to write the poems.

Here I wrote about making a poem on a bus ride to Avebury Stones.

Here I wrote about the influence of wildflowers and circles on my Wiltshire poems.

I wrote about six news poems in the weeks after I received my funding, using the money to keep me afloat, so that I didn’t need to worry about finding paid work over the summer. I also used some of the bursary to fund writer-in-school training with the National Literacy Trust, which was very helpful. I wrote about that here.

There was no pressure to report back to the bursary funders, although I did send regular updates, and no strict dates to to adhere to, or rules about the number of poems I wrote or what I had to do with them. If anyone was measuring my productivity, I think they would have been underwhelmed by my creative output! Nevertheless, the bursary has most definitely enhanced my practice even though it’s taken a while for me to get there. I don’t think I would have written these particular poems at all if I hadn’t been given this small pot of money, since I hadn’t written about place before, or closely observed landscapes or researched the heritage of any area. However, once I began researching and planning for these poems, I became more and more interested in writing about all of these things, particularly in the context of climate change. The money gifted me time and nudged me in a particular direction without imposing restrictive rules.

The poems from this project have all been redrafted, expanded, changed completely, abandoned and returned to, and rewritten as different poems in the past few years. Recently, some of them have come into the light. In 2020, ‘Sheep at Avebury Stones’ was longlisted in The Rialto Nature and Place Competition, judged by Pascale Petit. In summer 2022, ‘Last Chance, Strawberries’ which is about driving past Stonehenge on the A303 (currently under threat because of a government-approved road tunnel project to which there is much opposition) was published in Raceme magazine. Most recently, my poem ‘Visiting Woodhenge and the Church of St Mary and St Melor, Amesbury’ was shortlisted in the 2022 Live Canon International Poetry Competition, performed by the Live Canon Ensemble and published in the competition anthology. You can also see a film of Nichole Bird from the Live Canon Ensemble reading my poem at the anthology launch – my poem starts at 53.45.

Other poems from this series are currently out for consideration in different places and I hope that most of them will be included in my next full collection or pamphlet, when that is eventually published. I’m glad to be able to document here how much the bursary meant to me and how it has helped my creative practice.

Here are a few pictures I took of St Mary and St Melor Church in Amesbury, and of Woodhenge, when I visited in the summer of 2018. My Live Canon poem opens with the lines

“It is the story of a woman / whose understanding travels dreamlike / between two places. One scorching day / she adds her fingerprints / to a stone-and-timber neolithic circle / to an early church. / Time, a dandelion clock…”

As always, thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “The impact of receiving funding on my creative practice: update about a 2018 Local Artist’s Bursary”

  1. Always a pleasure to read your blogs Josephine. And you have set me thinking of a visit to Avebury, years ago when travelling with my young son. We came upon it by chance – I didn’t even know it existed! So now it might land in my poetry – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! The aforementioned journey visit also included Stonehenge (also a surprise) and I said exactly that once we’d been to Avebury.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.