Bringing out the poetic side of shoppers in Wrexham

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Poets at the Carnival of Words at Eagles Meadow, Wrexham. Poet Peter Read with Cameron Taylor, left.

A celebrated wordsmith who worked with Hollywood star Michael Sheen was in Wrexham to bring out the poetic side of shoppers.

Peter Read inspired poetry from bargain-hunters at a pop up shop at Eagles Meadow shopping centre, to promote the town’s first ever literary festival, the Carnival of Words from April 18-25.

The Wrexham-based poet, whose claims to fame include performing a Dylan Thomas one man show, teamed up with internationally acclaimed actor Michael Sheen at Margam Country Park in Port Talbot to promote the Dylan Thomas Prize – a leading award for young writers.

Peter said: “Michael Sheen was very good. He really is a terrific actor. A person who can do both football manager Brian Clough and Tony Blair is a consummate actor. He read out a few of Dylan Thomas’s poems and he brought a lot of passion to the performance. He was lovely to work with as well – a really great guy.”

Peter is a committee member for the Carnival of Words. The playwright and ghost-writer, has helped pen autobiographies of football big names including Dixie McNeil of Wrexham FC, Swansea manager Garry Monk and Everton boss Roberto Martinez.

He has been enlisting shoppers at Eagles Meadow to help him write a People’s Street Poem.

Shoppers will be able to add their own lines to the poem and then watch it expertly performed back at the shop on Friday April 24 between 12:15 and 1pm.

The festival is being supported by Eagles Meadow and the temporary shop is opening during the run-up to the festival, hosting a series of free events.

A group of literary figures, including writers and poets, have teamed up with Wrexham Council’s library service, Glyndwr University and Waterstones Wrexham to launch the inaugural Carnival of Words, which will see live performances and guest appearances at a number of venues throughout the Wrexham area, including Eagles Meadow.

Gareth Thomas will lead a question and answer session about his experiences as the first openly gay rugby player while other highlights will include former Home Secretary Alan Johnson and authors who’ve written books about the  smash-hit BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who.

Peter, a Carnival of Words committee member, said: “We all have poetry in our heads from time to time. I’m very enthusiastic about getting people who aren’t normally interested in poetry to help me write it, which is why it’s fantastic that I’ve been able to come to Eagles Meadow to do just that.”

Shopper Cameron Taylor, 46, from Caia Park, added: “I think the Carnival of Words is very good for the town. Poetry does interest me so it’s great to have Peter at the pop up shop at Eagles Meadow.”

Robert Williams-Day, a 28-year-old waiter from Wrexham, added: “I’m hoping to bring my seven-year-old son to some of the workshops. There are a lot of things happening at the Carnival of Words that I’m interested in. I love that Eagles Meadow gets involved in things like this. A few years ago they had a pop up folklore museum which was great.”

Peter added: “We came up with the idea of organising the Carnival of Words because it seemed to us that in Wrexham there was very little being done to take writing and writers out to the public and we’re very excited about the programme we have put together with the help of Eagles Meadow, Wrexham libraries and Glyndwr University.

“We think there’s something to interest all ages and interests.

“We’ll be starting off the carnival on Saturday April 18 with a literary bus tour which will leave from outside Wrexham Library at 10am, returning by 1pm.

“Along the route the bus will call off at Hightown Barracks, which has a strong association with First World War author Robert Graves who served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers regiment which was based there, the former Holt Academy where H G Wells was teaching when he wrote his famous novel The Time Machine, Hamner, which has links with Whitbread Literary Prize winner Lorna Sage, and Bangor on Dee which was the setting for a poem by Sir Walter Scott on the slaughter of monks in medieval times.”

Eagles Meadow centre manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are delighted to help host Wrexham’s first ever Carnival of Words.

“As a keen reader myself I’m pleased to do all I can to encourage a love of books and the written word.

“There’s a very varied programme not just at Eagles Meadow but at venues across Wrexham and I’d urge as many people as possible to get involved in this fantastic event.”

Another Carnival of Words committee member, Susan Miller, said: “We are very grateful to Eagles Meadow for allowing us to use the pop-up shop, which will enable the carnival to get right into the heart of the community of Wrexham.

“Eagles Meadow has a tremendous footfall which should help us attract lots of people of all ages who are interested in books and writing.”

For more information on the Carnival of Words or to be added to the mailing list for updates and notification of ticket sales, email: wrexcarnival@gmail.com. The event is also on Facebook at Wrexham Carnival of Words and Twitter @WrexCarnival #wrexwords. Contact: Debbie Williams or Ann Hughes at Wrexham Library on 01978 292090. Ticket booking through Eventbrite, Wrexham Library and Waterstones: http://bit.ly/WrexCarnivalEvents