Storylines – poetry on the rails

As the North East steams ahead to the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 2025, local artists have begun gathering stories on why the railway matters, as part of the new Storylines project. Among the commissioned artists are two Tees Women Poets – Lizzie Lovejoy and Carmen Marcus.

Their journeys will follow the route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway and its modern extensions, from Saltburn all the way through to Bishop Aukland. Opened in 1825, the original line is the world’s first locomotive-powered public railway and changed the way the world trades, travels and communicates.

Our poets will capture the everyday stories of why people travel, passengers’ most memorable train travel stories, and translate them into poems. Then they’ll teach two very special workshops for us, based on their experiences…

Young white woman with long blond hair and rainbow eye makeup

“Stories are what binds a community together, everyone has a tale to tell and an experience to share! Through this project I will be proudly collecting our words through community conversation before creating a range of poems, both visual and verbal. Northern Train Tales that deserve to be seen and heard!” – Lizzie Lovejoy

Lizzie will be running a special writing workshop based on her creative methods from this residency, exploring how we can make poetry from conversations with others while honouring their stories. Women poets can join in person at Drake Bookshop in Stockton, or online via Zoom, on Tuesday 4th July. It’s free, but booking is essential, especially for the in-person workshop where places are limited.

white woman in knit hat and bead necklace

“Trains are special, they just are. They have this magical quality of an in-between space where anything is possible. I’ve met strangers on trains who have told me snippets of secret stories they could never tell their families. I’ve shared moments on trains with people whose names I will never know when we’ve clickety clacked through the sci-fi landscapes of flooded fields or hurtled through the fires of Mordor (past the Blast Furnace). I’ve held my young son’s hand as he raced the train along my local platform (and some drivers let him win). I can write on trains in a way I just can’t when stationary. It does something to my imagination, the movement, the rhythm, the world slipping by – the rules and limitations get shaken away and the magical becomes possible. I wrote my first novel on a train and ever since then I have crossed my fingers and wished that someone would just let me write and ride the train – honestly this project is my actual, most wished for dream!” – Carmen Marcus

Carmen will be running a TWP Poetry Playspace inspired by her Storylines residency on Saturday 22nd July – women poets are invited to take a trip with us from Middlesbrough to Bishop Aukland and back, writing with the rhythms of the train! Free, and free travel ticket provided. Booking is essential – please reserve your place here.

Storylines is commissioned by North East social enterprise Citizen Songwriters CIC in partnership with the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership.

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