Former Worcester schoolboy made porcelain museum's resident poet

Ben Parker

The Museum of Royal Worcester in Severn Street

First published in News by

A FORMER King's School student has taken up a position as the first-ever resident poet at a museum documenting the history of porcelain production in Worcester.

Ben Parker, who took up poetry writing just 10 years ago, has been named poet in residence at the Museum of Royal Worcester in Severn Street.

The museum details the history of ceramics production in Worcester at the former Royal Worcester porcelain factory.

Mr Parker, who was last year nominated for the prestigious Michael Marks Award for his first pamphlet The Escape Artists, said he was approached by the museum’s curator Harry Frost about writing some poems for its We Worked At The Porcelain exhibit.

The 32-year-old said he had met with the museum’s manager Amanda Savidgeas part of the project and together they had come up with the idea of setting up the role.

“It was agreed that I would become the poet-in-residence and that this would comprise the writing of poems based on former workers, the history, the production process and whatever else inspired me,” he said.

“We don’t currently have an exact end-date for the residency, but it will probably run for most of this year, during which time I will be visiting the museum regularly.”

One of the poems he has written as part of the project entitled, Casting the Eagle, is based on an interview caster Roger Green recorded for the museum’s archives in which he talked about tackling a particularly challenging commission.

Mr Parker will also run a creative writing workshop at the museum on Saturday, September 20 and will host a live reading of his work. Mrs Savidge said she was delighted to welcome Mr Parker to the museum.

“We do know a few other poets but Ben seemed to have the empathy with the museum and the collection,” she said.

“He’s a young man and it’s important for us to work with young people.

“He’s visited the museum several times.”

She said he had been particularly interested in the experiences of people who had formerly worked at the factory.

“I think it’s really important to see the collection and it’s wonderful to see it being used creatively.”

  • For more information on the museum’s work, visit museumofroyalworcester.org.
  • For more of Ben Parker’s poetry, visit benparkerpoetry.co.uk.

Casting the Eagle, by Ben Parker

For a while its every hatching
was half-formed and strange,
flat-winged albatross or hunched vulture:
we couldn’t get the wing-span right

or fix the golden majesty we saw
in nature, and even when we did
more often than not the kiln-heat
would break the glory of it

as though the model caved
beneath the weight of too much beauty
and the white shell of its own
unpainted plumage was cast aside.

It took us more than a month
to re-conceive its delicate birth,
but today the first of its species
came out as we had always hoped:

the whole so well done that tomorrow
we will hear of stunned crows fallen
below the window where it dries,
furnace-born and freshly painted.

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