Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Keighley News looks back at the Poetry at the Parsonage event this past weekend in Haworth and the Branwell Brontë bicentenary celebrations last week.
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The Old School Room, once used by the Brontë sisters, saw more than thirty poets from across Yorkshire perform as part of an open mic event.
This was compered by Gill Lambert and Mark Connors of Word Club in Leeds.
Meanwhile, some of the nation’s most respected poets led workshops for poets of all ages and backgrounds before performing their own work in the evening.
The poets included Patience Agbabi, Kei Miller, Clare Shaw, Zaffar Kunial and Jacob Polley, together with the museum’s Creative Partner for 2017 Simon Armitage.
On Sunday, 30 people joined Simon and members of the museum team on a ‘Wandering Bard Walk’ from Luddenden Foot to Haworth.
The 11-mile walk ended in the Branwell Suite at the Old White Lion where Simon read from his work.
Poetry at the Parsonage was organised by Diane Fare, Outreach and Events Officer at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
She said: “It’s been a really successful weekend. Over 30 poets of all ages and backgrounds participated in the Open Mic event which was brilliantly compered by Gill Lambert and Mark Connors.
“We’ve also had some great feedback from the people who attended the workshops and the Poetryopolis reading in the evening was completely spellbinding.
“It was a privilege to welcome such a stellar line-up of poets to help us commemorate Branwell and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”
Parsonage staff last week spearheaded celebrations to mark the bicentenary of Branwell Brontë’s birth, with events in Haworth and beyond.
The week began with with a ‘birthday breakfast’ at Branwell’s birthplace in Thornton, now Emily’s Bistro.
Attendees enjoyed coffee and pastries while Ann Dinsdale, the museum’s principal curator, shared her experiences of “living with Branwell Brontë” during her 27-year career at the museum.
In Haworth, visitors were treated to a talk about Branwell and the opportunity to watch Simon Zonenblick’s new film about the Brontë brother, entitled A Humble Station?’.
Those with artistic flair also had the chance to paint themselves (or Branwell) back into the famous Pillar Portrait during a drop-in workshop.
The day was wrapped up with the unveiling of a new Branwell flower bed planted with vibrant, flame-coloured species symbolising how the Brontë brother’s creativity fired his sisters’ imagination.
Participants in Poetry at the Parsonage included Cumbria-born writer Jacob Polley, who recalled the time as a teenager when he ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ took a copy of Jane Eyre from his secondary school.
The TS Eliot prizewinner lead a workshop entitled Small World, where he looked at the micro-decisions people made when they wrote poems.
Patience Agbabi led a workshop entitled Telling Tales – Page To Stage focusing on her modern-day interpretation of Chaucer. (David Knights)
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Fine Books and Collections reports that one of Sir Walter Scott's walking sticks is going to be auctioned and recalls the fact that,
Walking sticks are the kind of personal artifacts that interest collectors. Those once owned by Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, Max Beerbohm, and Branwell Brontë are all in institutional collections. (Rebecca Rego Barry)
Indeed Branwell's walking stick is part of the Brontë Parsonage Museum collection.

Wales Arts Review enjoyed Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre.
Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre, however, is an inventive, skilful adaptation that not only feels vital, but necessary. Performed at the Wales Millennium Centre following an acclaimed season at the National Theatre, the adaptation was devised as part of a collaboration between the National Theatre and the Bristol Old Vic. These credentials feel immediately apparent both through the quality of the cast, and the imaginative staging. Jane Eyre is not an attempt to pander to the masses and simply capitalise on familiarity; rather, Cookson has intentionally sought to highlight the feminist aspects of both Jane’s character, and the nature of her relationship with Rochester. [...]
Cookson’s adaptation, while retaining the central narrative, along with a number of lines directly from Brontë’s writing, makes no attempt to pander to such outdated ideas of fidelity. Rather, the play feels fresh, making Jane’s plight feel immediate and relatable.
This relatability is further aided by Nadia Clifford’s central performance as Jane. Tasked with the difficult job of depicting a character from childhood to adulthood, Clifford, in altering her movement and vocal range, does so convincingly. Her Jane is enigmatic and compelling. Her pains and desires are, through the inventive use of cast members acting as her onstage consciousness, acutely felt by the audience. The use of this consciousness successfully overcomes the challenges that are so often faced by texts that feature a first person narrative. Jane’s frustrations are made apparent throughout, and in turn, the audience is able to connect with her.
Similarly inventive is the performance of Bertha Mason, Rochester’s much maligned wife. Bertha, so synonymous with the concept of the crazed, wronged woman, is not only made more human, but rather progressively, is never shown as archetypically mad. Too often adaptations of Jane Eyre have sought to depict Bertha as unhinged, and violent, but when Jane does finally meet Bertha, she is quiet, silent, and pitiable. Melanie Marshall performing the dual role of Bertha and onstage vocalist, is almost always onstage, indicating that Bertha’s presence, while not always recognised by the characters, is always there, threatening to upset the narrative trajectory.
The staging, featuring a static central wooden raised platform, allows for freedom of movement. Characters run up and down the various ladders leaning against the platform, in perfectly synchronised choreography, interchanging roles and scenes. Lighting is successfully used to indicate the change of time and setting as we follow Jane from the infamous red room (made oppressive through the hyperbolic darkened, red lighting) to Lowood School and Thornfield Hall.
The music, largely provided by onstage musicians, is inventive, ranging from the stirringly atmospheric, to the Jazz inspired, to finally, a rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, which may present as jarring initially, but is entirely suited to the mood of the chosen scene.
A wonderful, affecting adaptation, Cookson’s Jane Eyre creates moments of real beauty, infusing its source text with revived vivacity and immediacy. Almost cinematic in its quieter moments, Cookson’s adaptation should be the litmus test for subsequent renditions of canonical texts. Jane Eyre will please both affirmed fans, and those new to the narrative. (Siobhan Denton)
Manchester Evening News tells about a new bar which will open in Manchester next year, though it doesn't seem to be Brontë-related after all:
In addition, The Jane Eyre Neighbourhood Bar will open in spring 2018, within One Cutting Room Square, serving a mix of continental snacks, cocktails, and local beers.
Brothers, Jonny and Joe Eyre said: “We took inspiration for the Jane Eyre from our late mum, and have been searching for the right neighbourhood and space to get the ball rolling. (Lucy Lovell)
Book Riot includes the book Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle among the best they have read in June.
It may sound strange to compare Mary Shelley, Charlotte Brontë, and Billie Holiday to Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, and Amy Winehouse, but then again, maybe it doesn’t. These women are deemed trainwrecks while the men who act similarly are beloved. That’s the premise here. But we also get so much more. The things we learn about famous women are just the big things they did for art or literature, or how they killed themselves. Trainwreck gives the full stories, the good and the bad, the glorious and the messy, of these women. It’s spectacular. A must-read for all feminists. (Ashley Holstrom)
While The Young Folks have selected the 'Top Ten Books of 2017 (So Far)', including
10. Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell
Last but not least, Dear Reader makes my list for its unconventional yet enchanting retelling of Wuthering Heights. When Flannery’s English teacher doesn’t show up to school, Flannery goes on a trip using an old copy of Wuthering Heights, which has somehow become Miss Sweeney’s diary, as her guide. It is charming and unique and absolutely worth a read. (Lauren Wengrovitz)
Slate (France) recommends 24 books to read this summer and one of them is
Lettres choisies de la famille Brontë (éd. Quai Voltaire/La Table ronde)
Avec leurs histoires de vengeance et d’amours impossibles (Jane Eyre, Les Hauts de Hurlevents…), les sœurs Brontë valent largement les sœurs Hadid. Sans oublier Branwell, leur frère morphinomane, idéal pour un amour de vacances, une histoire sans lendemain. (Elisabeth Philippe) (Translation)
National Review discusses the 'Darwinian power of the castle'.
What is obscure to the student of Darwin is clear to the scholar of castles. The depravity of the castle is itself a source of its appeal, a more effectual inducement, indeed, than its halo of genetic robustness. The whole tendency of romantic literature shows that it is so. At the bottom of the Gothic fable is the Gothic donjon; and at the bottom of the Gothic donjon is the Gothic chamber of horrors, whether actual, as in Sade’s fictions, or psychological, as in the Brontës’ portraits of Heathcliff and Rochester. A first-rate Gothic artist is not, of course, so crude as to bring all the voluptuary terrors into the open light of day. He relies instead, as Thomas Hardy did in A Group of Noble Dames, on the reader’s imagination to fill up the gaps out of those materials that lie in the cellars of all our imaginations — in that residuum of brutishness that lingers even in the most up-to-date and virtuously progressive human intelligence. (Michael Knox Beran)
According to this columnist from Frontstretch,
stock car racing and martial arts go together as well as Heathcliff and Kathy (sic) (Matt McLaughlin).
Nashville Scene discusses the Jocques Clemmons Investigation:
This isn’t some college lit class where we read Wide Sargasso Sea and come to see Jane Eyre in a whole new way. (Betsy Phillips)
Both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are included on this list of '101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers' compiled by Medium. Clothes in Books discusses the clothes in Agnes Grey.

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