Gladstone 2013: I am Stoke

I was asked to write and perform a poem that celebrated the essence of my adopted home of Stoke-on Trent. This was  for an event called “Night at the Kiln” held at Gladstone Pottery Museum.   Having only 3 poems in possibly hundreds that have any geographical connection I rose to the challenge. The poem and performance are below

For just 12 square miles many arrive from thousands
Like carnival crowds bouncing, pounding the ground
Spending time here like it’s something they’re proud of
Cos our shadow over Alton, towers like Big Ben does the Thames
Yet Ben has no friends unlike Burslem who in 1910 gave birth to 5 daughters that matured as 5 sisters
5 towns like olympic rings on Staffordshire’s hill fingers
Angels of the Midlands determinedly insistent on preparing delights more than our nation could like
So we slow danced with ballerinas in brick tutus, waltzing with time
And for generations smoke like dark knights of the dining table patrolled the sky
See we are the iron butterfly and I recognise that
Many hands made the heart beat so that we could learn new steps
By 1952 we could finally draw breath, the stage was set, they had to fade from black,
No intervals it was straight into the clean air act,
She had to to clean her act up,
No smoking just patches of factories to see the mighty potters scoring
If time is really money this woman’s work is worth a fortune

Her shoulders have been broadened so that Emma could build bridges of polka dot porcelain over Trent’s troubled waters
From Steelite to Wedgwood we should now applaud us
I wish we could expand the borders so others reap the rewards of this city and her best work
We’re mobilising generations like a tectonic mobile network

Our net worth is working for us so I swim in this reflection
That I’m just potty about the potteries, I’ve been since the inception
If Stoke Minster blessed the marriage we’re the child of its conception
Babes of moulded clay on display beyond Hanley and Trentham

To pot banks we are indebted, we’ll never pension off our heritage,
Guarding it safely every day and year is our only will and testament,
Being thankful for how blessed we’ve been, What next? I hear you wrestle with,
For every revelation there has to be a genesis, gotta prevent an exodus

Pestering specialists for excellence, decadence without rhetoric
Go out and tell your relatives, 3 words that I hope will stick
I am Stoke
Our temperament of gentleness brought us to this pre-eminence
Now our inheritance procures sentiment and reverence
Stoke on trent is best at being more than a
Oatcake munching
Long ball playing, Eh up duck saying
Mighty mouse between two giants
Our blood, sweat and water ways are the reason why you eat from fine China
One night in a kiln, we are all now enlightened.
Now that you know why I know
That I am Stoke

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