A Common Wealth of Artefacts.

The birch basket, probably from the Hudson Bay or James Bay areas of Canada.
The birch basket, probably from the Hudson Bay or James Bay areas of Canada.

The theme of the StAnza poetry festival this year is ‘A Commonwealth of Poetry’. As part of this, poets from Commonwealth countries have been asked to write something in response to an artefact from the University’s collection that originates from their country. The first is inspired by this birch basket which was probably made by the Cree people of Canada in the early 1700s.

It is made from a single piece of birch and the white bits around the top of the basket, which you can just make out in the photograph, are porcupine quills.

the StAnza Blog

One of our collaborations this year with MUSA connects with our 2014 theme of A Common Wealth of Poetry. When we learned that MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) had a collection of fascinating artefacts from a range of Commonwealth countries, we set out to find poets willing to provide a short poem in response to each of these. The first to agree, and to provide a poem, was Chris Gilpin from Vancouver, Canada. The artefact to which is is responding is now on show at MUSA in St Andrews and he has provided a sound file of his poem to accompany this. You can listen to the poem at MUSA, while admiring the item to which it responds, or listen online at https://soundcloud.com/stanzapoetry/birch-basket-behind-glass-by. Other artefacts which feature in the collaboration come from Tonga, Zambia and India. Images of the artefacts and all the poems responding…

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