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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Times & Star backs Cockermouth poetry book project

Many thousands of words flowed once the floodwaters that devastated Cockermouth in 2009 had ebbed away.

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FLOWING WORDS: Times & Star editor Steve Johnston, right, presents Joan Hetherington and Michael Baron with a cheque for £300 from the Times & Star charitable trust to help towards the River Poets book

The torrent of comment and observation included more than 30 poems that were later displayed in the town’s shop windows to mark the first anniversary of the floods.

Many of the poems, which had a river or water theme, were written by local poets and schoolchildren.

The idea was prompted by Cockermouth poet Michael Baron, who initiated Keswick’s hugely popular Words By The Water festival.

He was supported by Joan Hetherington, of Dovenby, on behalf of Cockermouth Soroptimists, and the pair have now developed a bigger project.

They aim to publish more than 100 poems written by poets linked with Cockermouth, past or present, or who have visited the town and made reference to it.

The anthology, to be called River Poets, will contain poems written between 1711 and 2011.

The Times & Star Charitable Trust this week donated £300 towards its production costs.

More than £2,000 has been raised so far – with donations also from Cockermouth and District Neighbourhood Forum and Cockermouth and District Sorpotimists.

Another £1,000 is required with the aim of publication this summer.

The anthology will be sold not for profit, via local outlets and nationally through the internet.

Permission has been obtained to use verse from poets such as current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and past poet laureate Andrew Motion. It will include local poems written by schoolchildren.

Carlisle-based artist Derek Eland, who had several paintings rescued from an exhibition in Cockermouth during the 2009 floods, will provide a series of watercolour illustrations.

Lady Egremont has agreed to write an introduction to the collection.

Mrs Hetherington said: “We are still looking for donations and sponsorship, and we are also on the look-out for a few hours of help from a good shorthand typist who can transcribe some of the poems for us.”

Any money raised will be donated to Cockermouth Mountain Rescue and Save The Children.

Meanwhile, donations and support can be offered via Mr Baron, email mickbaron1@tiscali.co.uk

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