Monday, June 15, 2020

Spotlight 25. On the Water

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

So begins one of literature’s best-known river journeys: Ratty and Mole’s opening boat trip in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Spanning canals, lakes, and lost rivers, today’s Library Spotlight looks at the waters that flow through poetry, fiction, and our city.

Rhythmic Rivers and Babbling Brooks

 A Sheffield keel beside the castle-like Lock House that once stood at Tinsley Locks.
Undated image from early 1900s, taken from Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library's Picture Sheffield site (ref. y02044).

In this episode of BBC Radio 3's The Verb, poet Ian McMillan delves into the language of rivers. Speaking with guests including Alan Hollinghurst and Jude Rogers, the Bard of Barnsley explores how the river "turns and eddies in our imagination" throughout fiction, verse, and music.

Listen to the podcast here.

Sheffield's Hidden Rivers

In the last year, the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust has started to host guided urban caving tours exploring the vast network of Victorian storm drains below Sheffield city centre. The tours form part of the Trust’s projects to preserve and reclaim the city’s underground rivers.


If you’re curious to see more, check out this brilliant video and article by The Sheffield Guide’s James Hargreaves.

James’s video looks at the history of these "lost rivers" and captures his journey along the waterways beneath our feet. The tour moves from the river Sheaf as it flows underneath Sheffield Train Station, to the massive Megatron culvert in Castlegate.

Creativity during Corona

Every day on our Facebook page, Claire from Central Library is sharing poems and writing exercises to stir up your creativity.


In today’s post, Claire encourages us to think about the metaphorical resonance of rivers, and features a reading of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Brook.


“When I hear this poem read out, I feel like Frodo Baggins in Rivendell. Babble on the pebbles. I like the repetition and the wildlife, the rhythm as if I’m on the river itself, and the journey it takes.”


Check out Claire’s latest creative prompts on Facebook.

Get Your Imagination Flowing with these Filmpoems

If Claire's creative writing activities have sparked an interest in exploring more river poetry, why not take a look at Waterlines’ “filmpoems”.

A collaboration between The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust, the Waterlines website brings together a host of new poems inspired by Britain’s waterways.

Written by previous Canal Laureate Jo Bell, “Lifted” is a lovely filmpoem capturing the ritual of passing through a lock.

You can watch more of Waterlines' atmospheric filmpoems here.

Fishy Goings-On in This is Not My Hat!

The Little Angel Theatre has put together an ingenious series of performances that perfectly capture the look and dark humour of Jon Klassen's award-winning picture books on the theme of hat theft!

Here's the underwater tale This is Not My Hat.

Children can also learn how to create their very own swimming fish puppets, as featured in the show, here.

If you enjoyed this play, check out the productions of Jon Klassen's other two books on the Little Angel Theatre's YouTube channel (the bear puppets in I Want My Hat Back are particularly fabulous!)

All three shows will be available to watch for free until 30 June.

Drift Away with a Great Book

Whether you’re in the mood for a “waterbiography”, a relaxing riverside read, or aquatic tales of monsters, myth, and magic, our eLibrary has lots to choose from.


Track down all these eBooks and audiobooks, and more, here.

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