In the 1930s, Bolton was at the heart of Mass Observation, a large-scale investigation into the habits and customs of the people of Britain. One of the movement’s founders, Charles Madge, a poet and journalist called Mass Observation a form of “popular poetry” which would shed new light on everyday life.
Creative Writing students from the university in conjunction with Bolton Library and Museum Services, have set about evoking the original participatory spirit. The exhibition in the Worktown Gallery draws on extensive archives exploring Madge’s early vision for Mass Observation.
As part of the exhibition, the museum has been inviting visitors to answer “if you weren’t here, where would you be?” Visitors have embraced the activity with enthusiasm by supplying hundreds of answers.
The museum has asked our students to create new poems based on some of the answers producing ‘A Poetry of Ourselves’. Third-year Creative Writing students AJ Moroz, Morgan King, Kate Jones and Penelope Alonso-Ritchie all rose to the challenge with great creativity to produce exceptional poems. You can read the poems here.
Ben Wilkinson, Lecturer in Creative Writing said “each poem sheds light on life in Bolton today. It is a testament to creative writing’s ability to not only commemorate our past but also help us understand our present. I’m sure Charles Madge would have approved of the collaborative spirit in which these everyday poems have been created.”