Poetry Walk in Bretton

Saturday saw the first of the official Bretton Greens exploratory walks and workshop: the poetry-led walk.

We had invited four wonderful Peterborough-based poets to write an original poem, inspired by a specific site in N.Bretton. And write they did…

On Saturday we met, at 10.15 am sharp, to set out a walking route linking these four sites, to hear the poems performed in situ, at the site of inspiration. The poems, very different in nature, each illuminated entirely new way of seeing and experiencing Bretton.


Pete Cox’s, poem the Ox Cart told of his memories of a friend’s gig 30 years ago at the venue, where they performed in front of “Drinkers moved here from London, Nursing pints, cigarette smoke.”

Pete notes Bretton’s trees, now “gnarled…old men“, which lead to musings of when these trees were but saplings – at the birth of the Peterborough Development Cooperation – when the roads were first trodden by “Londoners raised on Victorian street”, for whom the Township was to offer fresh hope: with its offer of decent sized housing, bountiful green space and community heating systems.


Keely Mill’s poem, all about Grimshaw Woods encourages us to make use of the natural assets we have on our door step.  “Bathe in this slip of nature” Keely writes, encouraging us to take time out of daily routine to enjoy in the calming and restorative affects that immersion into nature can bring, (and referencing the Japanese tradition of ‘forest bathing‘).

In her poem Keely also hints to the charming tales and piece of local history that was in 1507 when the land was finally sold on to private ownership, the new owner, Fitzwilliam, agreed to lease it back for the annual rent of a single red rose so that it could continue to be enjoyed by all.


The now de-funct tennis court near to Bretton water park are transformed to there former glory in Charley’s poem Tennis. When we are transported back in time to when this was the site of an epic childhood game.

The language is powerful, like the game itself, and Charley reminds us of the personal memories that sit behind every site and surface in Bretton. And, on a more practical note, her piece also begs the question as to what this site  – currently  unused and chained up –  is now being used for?

The background noise of the traffic one hears when in Bretton Park is at once transformed in Anita Nayyers poem, Lost in Thought, when she writes
In the background lorries hum
Cars burn with constant ease
Sounding like diesel seashells from beside the sea.

And later Anita turns the ‘problem’ of Bretton’s often befuddling street patterns on its head when she writes “Perhaps being lost isn’t so bad here. Where else would I want to go?” And indeed, perhaps this quality might become something we consider a lovable characteristic and asset (to those not short of time)…

With the workshop in view at the end of the walk, by way of preparation, in between each site walk participants were given small tasks such as making note while walking of textures, things that stand out, and memory associations with the Township.

This would all prove invaluable when in came to the workshop later on and the Bretton community were asked to write their own original piece led by the wonderful Keely Mills. See the results of the workshop here.


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