Poem a Month for April

Poem a Month for April

Made in Derbyshire literally comes to life in this month's poem by Sian Tower.  Through its vivid use of language  we are reminded of the power of the River Derwent driving both the looms and the lives of the factory workers.

In her introduction Sian writes:

'Cromford in Derbyshire has been the subject of many of my poems. Bend in the River is about how the valley and river, which attracted industrialist Richard Arkwright to this area in 1771, have survived his endeavours. 

His mills were the catalyst for industrial change from cottage industry to the factory system. They are now a World Heritage Site, known as the ‘cradle of the industrial revolution.’ The sorry collection of mill ruins purchased by the Arkwright Society in 1979 were testament to the fickle nature of industry, which comes and goes, flows through a place, like a river does.'


A bend in the river lures Arkwright,
to stand upon its sandy shore.
His men pour its babbling course
into a cauldron, using giant wheels
for their alchemy – a cacophony
as a monster rises from its river bed.

Its powerful teeth chew white bales
of cotton whole, like sheep. Lath spews
into buckets from the beast’s clattering guts.

A new vernacular spreads like the weeds
that bloom between the river’s reeds.
There’s talk of spoom, of thundering gloom,
of scutchers, lockers, overseers, Jennies,
looms, mules, rules , more rules, more rules..

Ill shod legions of workers cox and box
the hot beds of Cromford - the thoughts
in their weary heads stitched to the seams
of this entrepreneur’s dreams.

                         the fickle nickel
                                                          trickles past…

Stitches unravel one by one and within weeks,
gravel has once again won the wheel pits.
The racket of slubbing spindles is soon drowned
by a bend in the river’s blubbing sound.

by Sian Tower


You may have already received or picked up your copy of the Derbyshire Literature Festival 2015 brochure.  If you haven't you can pick up a copy in any Derbyshire Library. Events and workshops are taking place across the county.  To download a copy of the Festival brochure and to book tickets online please visit the Festival website.

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