Cornish Folk Singer Will Keating, was looking forward to an exciting 2020 and had already planned something special to help celebrate the Bi-Centennial year of Cornish Miner Poet John Harris’ birth. Will shares with us how FEAST Re-ignition funding helped him reach those in isolation across the Duchy, challenging Cornwall to be creative through writing poetry!
2020 was a year for me to spread the remarkable story of John Harris, through song and live performance. When Covid happened, the FEAST Re-ignition funding literally sparked the idea of setting Cornwall a Poetry Challenge. The challenge lasted for 8 weeks, and try to connect with those in the Cornwall that were in isolation. It was so important to me to try and find a way of connecting with people who did not have access online and thanks to FEAST and BBC Radio Cornwall I was able to achieve that.
The response was fantastic, and the standard of verse astounding! I would read out my favourites each week on BBC Radio Cornwall before setting the next challenge. I had hundreds of entries and it was a joy to read every one.
Here is one of my favourites below written by Linda Atherfold:
Cornwall is calling from the hedgerows and trees
Through the rivers, the hills, the valleys and seas.
The tops of the cliffs, the depths of the mine
Cornwall is calling, through mists of time.
Cornwall is singing in sounds loud and strong
Through voices of fishermen and miners long gone.
In shanties and music and folk songs of old
Stories of people and places are told.
Cornwall is dancing with steps full of joy
In Furry and Flora, man, woman, girl, boy.
United at May Day, Golowan, Montol
Together in time everyone, one and all.
And when there is sadness in times full of fear
Cornwall gives strength to those far and near
And Cornwall will call in a voice clear and strong
Saying this too shall pass, stay hopeful, you belong.
With the support of a Re-Ignition Grant from FEAST, I was able to spread the incredible story of remarkable Cornishman John Harris, whilst also help support the most vulnerable during isolation. The challenge certainly helped me through the darkest days of lockdown and gave people a distraction and the ability to connect with others even if they were on their own.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single poem and communicating with all of those that got involved. Thanks to FEAST I was able to bring people together during an unprecedented time, supporting them and helping them to express themselves through poetry.
“Thank you for hosting this event, Will. It has been so enjoyable and motivating to participate in the challenge during this difficult time of lockdown”
“So pleased you enjoyed my verse. I have for many years been called upon to write verses for special occasions, in my home village or at work, but never sent any to Radio Cornwall or any public domain. I am a key worker currently at home recovering from surgery and treatment, it is so therapeutic for me to write verse, I really value the fact that you have taken the time to reply to us all, thank you”.
Will Keating is also well known for performing a live stream during lockdown, every Thursday, after the hand clap, as part of the Voices of the Borough movement. Harry Glasson’s emotive song Cornwall my Home was sung on the streets reaching a truly global audience.
Find out more about Will at willkeatingcornwall.com