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  • timbarber

The Poetry Seat on Ilkley Moor

Updated: Mar 22

A few years ago on the way back from a good yomp over Ilkley Moor to the 12 Apostles stone circle, I took a slight detour on my way back and stumbled upon the Poetry Seat.

At first I wasn’t sure what this was, a stone seated area in the middle of nowhere, but strangely containing a metal postbox with the words Poem’s In and Poems Out on. The metal postbox had a handle at the side which I turned and out popped a poem!

Exploring further, one of the seats had the words Stanza Stone Poetry Trail carved into it, so I decided to investigate further.

The Poetry Seat is part of a larger project commissioned in 2010 by Ilkley Literature Festival. The UK’s leading poet and now Poet Laureate Simon Armitage was signed up to produce a series of poems responding to the landscape of the Pennine Watershed in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

Six poems were written all themed around water, then the Festival asked a letter carver Pip Hall and her apprentice Wayne Hart to carve them into the landscape in atmospheric locations between Marsden (where Simon Armitage was born) and Ilkley where the literature festival was to be held.

I will cover some of these locations in future blogs, but as well as the six poems the project also consisted of the construction of two Poetry Seats. One of these was what I had stumbled on close to the Cow and Calf Rocks near Ilkley.

It used the remains of an old shooting lodge which local drystone waller Nick Ferguson transformed to a spot where people could sit and admire the view, then hopefully be inspired to write a poem.

The post box allows poems to be written and posted, but by turning the handle you can access and read poems others had left.

What a wonderful idea.

I hope you like the Poem below by Ian McMillan about Yorkshire Puddings!


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