Vandals smash poetry artwork designed to inspire Longridge during Covid crisis

Vandals have smashed a piece of artwork intended to lift spirits during the coronavirus crisis.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:30 pm
The broken slate in Townley Gardens

The poem Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye had been written on a piece of reclaimed roofing slate and positioned in Townley Gardens, off Berry Lane, Longridge.

It was one of around 30 dotted around the town by Clare Hyde from Knowle Green, who wanted to share the positive power of poetry.

In fact it was a replacement piece after the original was broken in Berry Lane last year.

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How the slate looked beforehand. Credit: John Proud ('bowlandclimber')

>>>Read more about the work here

On Thursday, locals were upset to find the second slate smashed into pieces, with parts strewn all over the footpath near the youth club.

One local resident, who asked to be anonymous, said: "We are a proud town and the fact that someone has ruined someone’s efforts to boost morale out of nothing but boredom is disheartening."

But Clare Hyde was more sanguine.

"I did it to lift spirits, and I was aware that some might get broken", she said.

"In fact quite a few of them have been broken, either by the wind or people, but I try not to be too precious about it.

"I do replace some of the ones that have been broken, but I have to look at where they're positioned and whether it might happen again."

Clare, who is involved in environmental work, said she has always had a love for poetry and choses excerpts from her favourites, or from those that had struck her while watching television or reading the paper.

The poem Kindness was from a book called The Poetry Pharmacy Returns.

Clare said: "It's prescribing poems for courage, healing and hope -.much needed now!"

The first poem Clare put on display was from Benedictus: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue. She positioned it carefully at a crossroads in Knowle Green.

She said: "I felt a bit silly about it at first, but then I saw people stopping and looking and it gives me great please to see people engaging with poetry.

"One person told me that after seeing some of the poems, they were inspired to go out and buy their first ever poetry book.

"I have enjoyed contributing during the last year with this."

Lancashire Constabulary have been contacted for a comment.

The poem:

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the

Indian in a white poncho lies dead

by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night

with plans and the simple breath

that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness

as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow

as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness

that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day

to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you every where

like a shadow or a friend.