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A commissioned poem inspired by projects funded by Connecting Cultures GRP and the GRP’s general themes:

When the voice, tone, shape and structure of a poem juxtapose in various and unusual ways, we don’t just see the creation of metaphor but a revelation of human experience that is unique and authentic. The writing of poetry can thus enrich our understanding of people; their history, geography, biology and mathematics- how they calculate, correct and add up their perceptions of the world to make sense of a whole. In this way, a poem is a school but one that teaches us things we don’t necessarily learn in school- to take risks, think outside the norm, challenge what is presented as ‘knowledge’ and question everything. This is why Einstein valued creativity as much as science and how the greatest scientific discoveries were made. 

As a poet who has been asked to respond to the rich, interdisciplinary work of GRP’s (Global Research Projects), it strikes me that this programme functions in a very similar way to the writing of poetry itself. At the heart of the GRP’s innovative and interdisciplinary approach, is a broad range of voices that commune with a problem in order to be heard; a problem is nurtured rather than probed, and from this process creative solutions find the means to flourish and ultimately enrich our understanding of the world. In my poem The Water Whisperer, I also attempt to create such a multi-dimensional voice, one that invites the reader to explore its facets from a number of different perspectives: the voice of the poet, the voice of Lewis Carroll, the voices that speak through the text and the voices of colleagues whom have shared their incredible stories and research with me.

More specifically, the Connecting Cultures GRP offers a very special lens for the exploration of voice. Being based in the arts and humanities, it is already aligned with the creative power of collective and individual expression and how it can affect social and political change, have impact. Although I have responded to 3 projects in particular, they are also a reflection of collective themes found throughout Connecting Cultures GRP. What I hope to present to you is its microcosm and a brief but intimate journey into the poetry of protest:

 

- Filmmaking for Social Change: Daughter of the Lake by Ernesto Cabellos – Dr Elizabeth Chant

At the height of the Peruvian gold rush, a woman able to communicate with water spirits uses her powers to prevent a mining corporation from destroying the lake she considers to be her mother.

- Territorial Bodies: World Culture in Crisis – Maddie Sinclair & Charlotte Spear 

An analytical tool for addressing urgent social, ecological and ecological challenges: from ecological breakdown to the rise of statelessness, to violence against women and racial exploitation.

- The Return of Silence: Gender, Narrative, and Medieval Heritage – Dr Emma Campbell

Le Roman de Silence is a story lost for 700 years. It tells of a gender swapping descendent of King Arthur, a warrior maiden, a minstrel, a knight, who challenges the patriarchal society of her day.

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