BUDDING poets in Cumbria have been asked to pen an ode to lift the lost village of Mardale Green from the bed of Haweswater and win the chance of a lifetime to have their work set to music by rock royalty Mogwai. The competition has been launched by CultureNL, a charity that runs North Lanarkshire Libraries, which has invited libraries in Cumbria and Gwnedd in Wales to take part in the event that centres on the theme of drowned villages - something common to all three areas.
Open until February 24, all entrants must be aged 14 or over and library members in one of the three regions. Entries can be emailed or handed in to libraries.
The best poem will be put to music by cult Scottish band Mogwai, which provided the much-acclaimed soundtrack for the recent Channel 4 drama The Returned - a ghost story based around a reservoir which had been created by drowning the local valley village.
The judging panel is Scotland’s national poet, Liz Lochhead and Nicky Wire, bassist in Manic Street Preachers. There is also to be a third regional judge representing Cumbria.
When the valley of Mardale, in the far east of the Lake District, was flooded to create the Haweswater reservoir in 1935, the village of Mardale Green was lost forever – although when water levels are very low the walls of the old village can still be seen. The reservoir was created to provide water for Manchester.
The competition was born once Jane Graham, the Scottish Book Trust's current reader-in-residence for libraries in North Lanarkshire, discovered the history of the lost village of Bothwellhaugh in Lanarkshire. Bothwellhaugh was once busy little community which was deliberately flooded in 1965 for the development of Strathclyde Country Park.
Inspired by the story, Jane decided to link up with libraries in Cumbria and Gwynedd in north Wales, both of which have their own drowned village: Mardale Green and in Gwynedd, Capel Celyn which was flooded in 1965 to create a reservoir.
Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite said: “The drowned village poetry competition really appealed to us on many levels. I think that inspiring people to write poetry is wonderful and the opportunity to accompany it with my music was too good to pass by. I also feel that supporting libraries is absolutely essential. They are vital for our communities and have to be cherished and protected.”
Coun Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council's cabinet member for libraries, said: "This is a really eye-catching contest that I'm sure will inspire lots of people to write their next – or even their first – poem, all about Mardale Green.
"There are many people who will be inspired by such a curious place, and I expect there will be plenty of romantic, melancholy, political or just plain spooky poems written about it."
Entrants in Cumbria should send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries should have subject heading Drowned Village Poetry Competition and include a name, age, contact details and library card/membership number.
Regional winners will be announced mid-April and the overall winner's Mogwai collaboration will receive an exclusive play on BBC radio.
For more details on the competition visit http://tinyurl.com/DrownedVillagePoetryComp.