WATGB: A Midsummer’s Poetry Collection

To coincide with their new monthly residency on the MDR airwaves, Where Are The Girl Bands? offer us a monthly glimpse into what they’ve been up to and what’s caught their attention over the past 30 days… 

This month’s article is a collection of poems created and performed as part of Where Are The Girlband’s collaboration with Shakespeare North Playhouse, and gives some context to the collaboration and how WATGB align with the aims of SNP.

This summer has seen the opening of a new cultural hub in the Northwest and with it a whole host of creative opportunities are beginning to blossom. Shakespeare North Playhouse is an ode to Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare through both its stunning traditional 470 seat timber framed Shakespearean theatre and its intentions in storytelling, inspiring local communities through theatre. 

As soon as we heard about the Playhouse’s aims to bring people together through a unique programme of events we were excited. The prospect of collaborating with Shakespeare North Playhouse felt natural with Where are the Girlbands’ roots in grassroots community spaces and alternative gigs, alongside Shakespeare North Playhouse’s dedication to engaging with the local community through vibrant new performances within a traditional theatre setting. 

On Sunday 14th August we hosted a Midsummer Night’s Showcase in the beautiful Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden at Shakespeare North Playhouse. The aim of the event was to act as a synching model, introducing musicians and poets to the theatre and its audience to help form ties with the local creative community (whilst providing an evening of ethereal outdoor performances on a summers evening). The night was tied together through the magical themes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, chosen by us as a theme as it is the first Shakespeare play to be performed at the Playhouse. 

To help curate and develop the event we also held a poetry workshop, facilitated by Shakespeare North Playhouse’s Poet in Residence, Charlie Staunton. The workshop explored concepts of magic, consent, dreams and woodlands, using performance based and written strategies to allow the poets to expand their usual poetry practice into a transcendent realm. 

Today we present to you a collection of poems and lyrics by the otherworldly artists who graced the stage of the playhouse, including collaborative and individual poems written during Charlie Staunton’s workshop and the mystical pieces that were performed on the evening. 

Phoebe Winstanley

A Dream
Last night I dreamt.
There were canyons there;
Derelict yet loud.
At first I thought they were you.
They reminded me of the creases of your stony face;
Cracks I would often fall into,
Get lost in.
Trapped.
Your cave like eyes,
Which so often swallowed my tiny body whole.
I felt digested after;
Less than before.
Your silence was always so obscene.
Obnoxious, almost.
These thoughts made me not want to think of you at all.
Instead, my mind centres on canyons full of light.
I leave you back in the cold house,
With your stony head
And your hands of ice.

Chartreuse Horns
Two zits erupt either side of my forehead;
Chartreuse horns to remind me of my sins.
Was my skin ever clear?
Or was I always branded by fate;
A burnt mark on my soul even before the first scar.
The cattle woman who only herded herself

Into this mess.
Who even now milks what has once passed.

Collaborative poem

I dream of frantic eels in the sea
I dream of a day when the world wakes up
I dreamt of labour
I dream of the same house over and over
I dream of a future too clear to see
I dreamt of escape and I dream I’m returned
I dream of falling from the skies
I dreamt of now and now I’m here

Claire Beerjeraz

If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise
See if you go down to the woods today
There’s a chance you won’t survive
That scary feeling of being alone
but shadows seem to fill your bones
You might be followed, or plans made around you
To make this journey your last endeavour
a fantasy for someone’s pleasure
If you go down to the woods today, carry your safety alarm
It won’t always work but do as your told
Because you’re the one who needs to be controlled
Your fears are your own doing and fault
Missteps create pain if you’re a female alone
But if you go down to the woods today
Make sure you tell someone else
Keep your phone tracked
and speed dial ready
don’t panic or squander
Because those bears move quickly
You could go when it’s light and the sun is out
But that won’t change the fate from the evil in their eyes
There’ll be a teddy bears picnic,
And the tea is our blood
Victims and fighters who gave it their best shot
Followed the rules, kept themselves as safe as possible
Almost as if someone else is responsible
Somewhere deep within the trees
where the questions aren’t about our actions or clothing but belong to
the perpetrators at heart
The bears
the ones with the grizzly teeth
Innocent from a distance
dangerous to meet
furry and fluffy
Sharp to touch
powerful positions
leaving powerful marks
You’ll be lucky to survive
And tell the tale, of how you made it through the woods on this day

Collaborative poem

I dream of the future
I dreamt my thirst was quenched
That solitary prevailed
I dream of a luxurious getaway to a beautiful country
I dream of your return, but It’s never in the ways I want
I dream of sleep, but it’s hard when I’m without
I dreamt of exploring the galaxies, travelling the milky way and at the end, returning back home
I dream of dark and quiet silence, of an end.

Ella Fradgley – Some leaves change colour in autumn and some don’t

Golden brown your name crunches under my foot
I carry it with me
Turning autumn leaves into eggshells
I am transformed, I tell myself
And yet here I am, transubstantiating leaves into your name
Like catholic guilt I drink wine to bless me
Bury me
Release me
Eat grapes in winter and savour their sweet flavour
Some things never change
Some things do
Brown and dried they web a carpet
Sefton park is but an autumnal blanket
Making snow angels in late spring
Sing to me, you never did
Although I lay on your chest each night before I fell asleep
Why do I write in circles around myself?
Why did you say those things?
Of course I know why
Like I know why the trees become barren
You move like the moon in cycles of knowing
Lunar, your psychosis shifts with the seasons
Firework night,
Spinning Catherine wheels squeal
You held my hand as I crossed the road
Or did you?
I can’t remember.

Lazy Girl – A Ballad for Distance

I’ve seen you walk the floors of my dreams before
You make it harder just to wake
And when I face the day, I can’t keep you at bay
Like something tugging on my brain; it makes it difficult to

Place
Place
Place
Place

I’m stranded, there’s no use
I’ve tried all the doors and none leads me through to you
My body aches to feel yours again
Feel your head on my chest tonight as my heart begins to

Pace
Pace
Pace
Pace
Pace (baby)
Pace (baby)
Pace (baby)
Pace

Sophie Bernice – Leave Our Skins

Oh many a way I’ve coped
just to take the edge off
edges already so rounded

It’s a hard life they laugh
sarcasm is dripping down their backs
but don’t you want to leave your skins, sometimes
just like us others?

With minds that search for pain
because our bodies aren’t in any so they need the entertainment so I’ll give you entertainment we say
they’ll run wild, run us over, run around a manic kind of way

So don’t you want to leave your skin?
crawl out between your eyeballs take a minute.
and we can clear our foggy eyes
back to child-like, our finest hours
with minds that can play
and our bodies don’t mean shit when we are moving in this way
we are moving like the rivers in change
we’ll run wild, rolling over, smooth watery ways

when we come to slip back in
reminded by the bruises on our shins
that we can breathe these heavy minds
into space
and find our own way
paint a little universe that’s joyous as it’s plain
we won’t be dreaming of tomorrow when tomorrow comes
I’ll run wild, when you come around
we’ll leave our skins for the day.

A collaborative poem

I dream of people passed
I dreamt of meadows filled with flowers
But also of the canyon, derelict and loud
I dream of chaos, I wake to peace
I dream that I am running away
I dream of being a child with legs hanging over the side of my bunk bed
I dream of the forests being full
I dream of things I shouldn’t
I dream of things I should
I dream of you with a glittery haze
I dream of being completely free in every sense

Zara Jama

As life progresses and experiences are shared
I often think of all the women in my life who truly cared
Through the chaotic turmoil that is my life
Even the points I barely thought I’d survive
Like a bright light they shine
And dissipate my soul-wrenching cries

What is love if not my love for you?
The friends from lifetimes ago or the ones who are fairly new
Companions in this puzzle called life we try to work through daily
Bit by bit like building blocks making sense
Of the picture is in fact quite scary
But all is well and my worries with your presence are trivial
They haven’t disappeared but they’re contained and made minimal
I hope and pray that for you I do the same
As the title ‘friend of yours’ is one I proudly claim

Collaborative Poem

I dream of a life full of joy
I dream of you
I dream of your ghost filling my heart
Maybe tomorrow we won’t be apart
I dream of our room, soaked in red
I dream of being a movie star, on the big Hollywood screen
I dream of a silence, one where it’s just me
I dream of me being the person I always wanted to be
I dream of you, following me around the empty rooms of your house
I dream of your grace.
Loris and the Lion – Sanjo for Peaches

…You were always an early riser,

Sundays on Sundays spent in crumpled linen/ café au lait.

All sprawling freckles and gangliness. I could have grown old in that bed.

Through crooked breathings we moved abroad- to terracotta
tall grasses, to sleep under the cicely. Suck on sweet stones.

It happened, like something out of a terrible book.
Those disbeliefs, the dreamings. Cut in two by crocodiles.
There can be nothing worse than knowing something almost could have been

yours.

And there are some things I never want to understand:
How quietly the cuckoos live in the garden of gardens.
How strange it was to happen upon a jam jar full of wasps.
How you are the only thing I can begin to think about –
running through the bluebell woods, or barefoot, bucket and spade.
So truly lovely, I can almost forgive February for being cold.

Anyone’s Ghost – New Brunswick

I wanted to kiss you but i thought
that if I did, you might stop existing.
you gave birth in the hallway after dark
the green and trees collected you another—
since you know that I am hungry to be wanted
I wrote to you, all too aware that I

I could ruin this
and I could ruin you
I wanted to go home to you,
but you weren’t mine
at the end of it all

there was an empty space
inside my womb
where you promised me a second life.
you held your head to my chest
and listened to the heart beating
and I knew

that I had ruined this
and I could never ruin you
I wanted to go home to her
but she wasn’t mine
at the end of it all

I saw the ghost of New Brunswick
in the hallways
in the stories that you told me
I walked through the streets that I had never seen

if I kissed you would you stop existing
or walk into the empty space between us
would you tell me that you mean it?
even if it’s just a lie
even if it’s just a lie


|| WHERE ARE THE GIRLBANDS? ||