Lost Shropshire words inspire Jean's poetry

Disappeared old Shropshire country words are the inspiration for a new collection of poetry which celebrates the county, its language, and its strong sense of place.

 The Wrekin seen from the Cressage area
The Wrekin seen from the Cressage area

Poet Jean Atkin has dipped into an obscure 1879 publication, the Shropshire Word Book, to discover words and phrases which she has used for 12 poems which are being published in a pamphlet called "Fan-peckled" – itself an old Shropshire dialect word meaning "freckled."

Each word or phrase in the Victorian word book is translated into standard English, and given a provenance to show where it was collected, long ago in the 1870s. So, for instance, from Bishop’s Castle comes "shalligonaked," from Wellington "noon-spell," and from Much Wenlock "barley-child."

The poetry pamphlet has been published by Fair Acre Press, an Oswestry-based independent publishing house.

It has been illustrated by Shropshire artist and illustrator Katy Alston, and is filled with images such as foxgloves, fallen church bells, snow, red grouse, and narrowboats.

Jean's "Fan-peckled" poem reads in part: "Then morning fetched a dot-dance in the woods, of deckled oak leaves and the bee-pad, footfalls, pollen-tickled, in the foxglove.

"There was a seven spot ladybird, drawn with a pen, who uncased, crinkled wings to fly at the sun."

The pamphlet is published on April 2.

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