In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
The Friends of Coleridge have been celebrating the bicentenary of the publication in 1816 of the visionary poem Kubla Khan. This innovative 2016 project is supported by the Arts Council, Somerset Artworks and Somerset Film.
We have been organising an exciting programme of poetry, art, walks, talks, film and competitions.
National/International Poetry Competition
Poets were asked to write a poem inspired by Kubla Khan under the theme Imagined Worlds.
There were two categories, one for adults and one for poets 10 to 17 years of age, with prizes of £500 for the winning poem and £200 for two runners-up. There were also prizes for the junior section.
Click here to read the winning poems.
National Art Competition and touring exhibition
Somerset Art Works is managing this exciting venture. Artists were invited to create a painting inspired by Kubla Khan under the theme Imagined Worlds. We are delighted with the high quality and innovative approaches of the chosen artworks. The final exhibition, which has been curated by Jon England and Somerset Art Works, was on show at CICCIC in Taunton. It is now on at the Royal United Hospital in Bath until 28 April, when it will transfer to Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey, where Coleridge lived and wrote many of his most outstanding poems.
A series of Coleridge-related guided walks was arranged.
The first walk was from Porlock Weir to Ash Farm and back. A group of over twenty walkers followed in the footsteps of Coleridge to the farmhouse where he is said to have written Kubla Khan. There were readings en route. It was ably led by Tilla Brading of the Friends of Coleridge.
There were two guided walks around Nether Stowey, led by Terence Sackett and Ian Enters of the Friends. A group of Coleridge enthusiasts were encouraged to experience the village as Coleridge and Tom Poole knew it in 1797. There were readings from Coleridge and historical insights into the sights and sounds of the late 18th century.
We also arranged a walk in the footsteps of Coleridge and Wordsworth. This guided walk followed the start of the Coleridge Way, taking in beautiful stretches of the Quantock Hills. There were readings and brief explanations of the Quantock countryside that Coleridge and Wordsworth knew. We were delighted that the Somerset naturalist Nigel Phillips agreed to join us, and he granted us some invaluable insights into the area's natural history, and into the coppicing, oak barking and charcoal burning industries Coleridge would have encountered when he walked the hills here. The walk was led by Terence Sackett and Ian Enters.
On Saturday 12 November a group of walkers explored the country around Holford where the Wordsworths rented a country house, Alfoxden.
Somerset Film, an organisation with an excellent reputation for creative work, managed this exciting venture. A short film of Kubla Khan being read by various voices was created at the Engine Room in Bridgwater, just a street away from where Coleridge preached in the town's Unitarian chapel. Click here to view the film on YouYube.
In partnership with Somerset Art Works and Somerset Film, the Friends of Coleridge have arranged a programme of school workshops inspired by Kubla Khan / Imagined Worlds. Young people are encouraged to explore their own ideas and creativity in response to Coleridge's visionary poem. Schools signed up to the InspirED project received a resource pack and were invited to apply for placements with Alice Maddicott, poet and artist, and Christopher Jelley, poet and creative landscape technician. Somerset Film have been coordinating workshops to create broadcasts by children for Somerset Radio. Listen to Chris Jelley working with Parkfield Primary School children at http://ignitesomerset.com/artontheradio
Kubla Khan lecture. Seamus Perry, Professor of English at Oxford and a Coleridge expert, gave a lucid and witty talk about Kubla Khan and Coleridge to a packed audience at Taunton Castle. We all came away with fresh insights into this enigmatic and extraordinary poem, and a new sense of its unique power to engage readers old and new down the years. With grateful thanks to Tom Mayberry of the Friends for organising this successful event.
Strangers in Somerset. Poets Liz Cashdan and Ian Enters read their own poetry in the light of Coleridge's life and times in an enjoyable evening at Nether Stowey library. The evening was arranged in coordination with the Friends of Nether Stowey Library.
Aisholt Village Hall, Quantock Hills. A celebratory evening combining poetry and prose readings from Coleridge and other Somerset writers was held both to celebrate Christmas and the bicentenary of Kubla Khan.
Kubla Khan commemorative booklet
This beautifully illustrated, full-colour, 60-page booklet has been written by the Friends of Coleridge Chair Justin Shepherd, and designed by Terence Sackett of the Friends. It offers insights into the origins of the poem, Coleridge's life, and how it has been received down the years by the literary world and the wider population It is available as a printed booklet for £5. Click the link on the Home Page, or buy from selected booksellers and tourist centres.
Grand Awards Evening
The awards evening was held on 21 October at CICCIC, Taunton. Kate Innes and Jane Kite, two of the winning poets, attended to read their own poems and collect their prizes. A packed audience of well over seventy browsed the chosen Imagined Worlds artworks, and watched the Kubla Khan film. The evening proved a huge success.