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2014 - a year to be inspired!
Edith Sitwell (7th September 1887- 9th December 1964) was a greatly regarded writer and poet in her time, and has, for the most part, been neglected in the intervening years since her death. She was born in Scarborough and spent time in her childhood there at the family home Woodend, now a creative industries centre. Woodend and Scarborough echo through her poetry despite her long estrangement to the place. Her best known poem is Façade, a fore-runner to the modern rap. However, her later poetry – such as Still Falls the Rain and Heart and Mind – are probably the most engaging, blending, as they do, technique with deep-felt emotion.

The Edith Sitwell Festival

2014 is fifty years since Edith died. A group of us in Scarborough were determined that this anniversary should be used to encourage people to discover more about Edith and also to explore their own creativity.
 
1st March 2014: writing workshop based around Still Falls the Rain by Edith Sitwell at SJT Outreach.
Nine people attended this workshop run by Kate Evans & Felix Hodcroft. They created together two innovative and engaging performance pieces. www.sjt.uk.com/OutReach 
 
April 2014: Scarborough Flare & Books on the Beach
Taking Tea with Edith Sitwell with Kate Evans & Step Back in Time a walk with Suzanne Potter
Both events were a storming success and greatly enjoyed by sell-out audiences. Those that attended Taking Tea, created a collaborative poem which can be seen at www.scarboroughflare.co.uk.

Involving Young Poets
The Poetry Society in London created a challenge for their Young Poets Network centred on Edith Sitwell's work and the winners are now on their website. Check them out because they're all stunning in their own way: poetry winners. The Poetry Society has also developed a resource pack for schools about Edith Sitwell and her work.

On the 21st May 2014, around fifteen young people from local schools came to Woodend for a day to learn more about Edith Sitwell and to be inspired to write creatively. With talks by Andrew Clay, Director of Woodend and Tim Tubbs (about Edith's most famous poem, Façade), a delve into the archives at the library, plus some creative writing with yours truly, the day was full of activity and fun. Watch this video to get a flavour.

2nd October 2014, National Poetry Day, Woodend Creative Industries Centre.
‘We all have the remote air of a legend' The Sitwells, Sitwellism  and Sitwelliana in the 1920s. Dr Deborah Longworth, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham gave an excellent talk about the Sitwell siblings' place in the literary movement of modernism. She argued that it was their very celebrity and renown which has meant that they have been excluded from the literary canon for modernism. The purist modernists said that the writer should efface themselves from their work. However, Eidth's Façade is a virtuoso experiment in modernism and through her anthologies Wheels she published many fledgling modernist, as well as anti-war poetry such as that of Wilfred Owen. Deborah's talk helped re-establish the siblings at the centre of the literary revolutions of the roaring '20s.

Saturday 1st November 2014, Friends of the Library talk, Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) Remembered by Chris Beevers, archivist at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire, the present day home of Alexandra Sitwell (Edith Sitwell’s great-niece).
Chris gave an excellent talk moving through Edith's life via material lodged at the Renishaw archives. Of particular interest, were never before seen letters written when Edith was a child, which, Chris argued, revealed a warmer relationship between Edith and her father than is often supposed. ‘Edith Sitwell Remembered (1887-1964)’ gave a fascinating insight into a complex individual, attempting to reveal the ‘real’ Edith, and what lay behind her public ‘facade’ as an avant garde poet, performer and fashion figure, often labelled ‘eccentric’, as well as highlighting the literary significance of her work. It represented another Edith, a kind, generous and loyal friend who did much to help others in private, as well as supporting new, undiscovered talent.


Until 4th October, 2014. The Poetry Walk from the Stephen Joseph Theatre, includes a poem by Edith plus the work of other poets, some which may surprise you. More information here.

Now the 2014 Edith Sitwell Festival has come to a close, we in Scarborough are very pleased with what we have managed to achieve, we feel we have done our literary great proud. It has been a wonderful experience working with others to learn more about this fascinating woman.

 
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