Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2014/10/10 Poetry

Ride report. I’ve got two poems from folks, one turned up just before we went and one turned up as it was inspired by this ride. I am thinking of how we can use them or offer them to all of us and perhaps even make them a collective effort on honing them via Google docs. I’ve been v pressed for time and enjoying the afterglow of the Keith Hayman award from the Sheffield Civic Trust.
I’ve also been sent a stack of photos. It takes me a while to load those into the website media folder and get them on pages so I will sort out the report text first and get back to adding photos later
So bear with me on these two tasks.
55 riders counted on this ride and again with several riders new to the experience. It was a clear, mild, dry night. We gathered on the University concourse and set off under Western Bank to the car park to look at Simon Armitage’s poem Air and then round the corner into Weston Park. WE gathered at the statue of Elliott and then at the steps of the Mappin to read Betjeman’s An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield. Down Mushroom Lane to turn left over the Ponderosa and into Upperthorpe to Elliott’s house where we recited a part of the ranter that cites Sheffield place names.
Then one of the longer(!) sections of cycling from Upperthorpe to Scotland St where opposite the site of Edward Carpenter’s Commonweal Cafe we read some of his Towards Democracy that describes a dirty, smoky industrial town with a polarised population of haves and have-nots – now where could that be? Then a steep descent down the narrow Shalesmoor streets to cross Penistone Rd and cycle around to Kelham Island where we read Kelham Island.
We went along the Don to cross at Bridgehouses and over to Millsands to cross over into the Nursery St pocket park to recite The Don … to be continued

Next Sheffield FridayNightRide
Fri 10 Oct 2014
6.30pm, University Concourse, next to SUSU

Theme: It’s Sheffield’s marvellous literary festival, Off the Shelf, 11 Oct – 1 Nov
Let’s informally join in and contribute a FridayNightRide on the theme of poetry. Sheffield has poems on display, a couple of statues of poets, and locations and artefacts of Sheffield have been either settings or inspirations for poems. So we are going to ride to these places and look at things, recite some poems and even do a ‘brass’ rubbing of a hymn scratched, in the past, onto a wall. And we can chat about what poetry means to us. Anybody want to volunteer to do a bit of reciting? Don’t be shy!
Heads Up! The ride is on okay-ish roads or paths and should suit any bike. Bring LIGHTS, LOCKS and a spare tube. Just over 11 miles, town-based and not much up and down, lots of stops to see stuff, recite and chat.
Map: The map with POI and which poems/poets go where

View Poetry ( in a larger map
Map on Ride with GPS so you can see the elevation profile

Hint: The detail is on the Google map, so if you want a preview, take a look at it. This has become a labour of love.
Comment is free: something you love or think I’ve missed or could add – then get back to me at
Ride song: not that you need to learn this song but I tend to think of poetry as words to be read. I went to an event last year about the ‘local voice’ and it missed entirely the richness of the ‘local voice’ through song.
Here is the Arctic Monkeys singing “Red light means doors are secured”
Watch it, read it: its a poem, reight!
Shall we recite this by a taxi rank? In unison? with song sheets?

Ride Badge: Based on a portrait of Ebenezer Elliott, Sheffield’s own Corn Law Rhymer
Cycling and poems: I had a trawl on t’internet and couldn’t find much that I thought that captured cycling as I feel it but I did like these haikus
Anybody got poems about cycling they like? Let me have a link pls.
I’ve since found some more and will be adding them to this page
I’m no expert on many things including poetry but as a teenager I used to love it. Planning a FridayNightRide can bring memories back for me – or maybe that is just the process of ageing!
I suppose my first poems were nursery rhymes (or the rhythm of my Mum’s heartbeat with overlayed noises and voices?). I was schooled in the 50s and 60s and that was where I encountered poetry. I can’t remember writing poems at school but I can remember reciting them (in English and, later, in Latin as well). When I was at primary school John Masefield was the poet laureate and we read Sea Fever and I remember loving the rhythm of it. At secondary school we had I presume exercises in discipline where one had to learn a poem by heart, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W B Yeats comes back to mind, which we then had to publicly recite. Thinking back it may well have been linked to the 50th anniversary of the start of WWI. I enjoyed that because, as you know, I like to speak out loud! Oratory can produce different understandings and feelings than conversation. [I was also introduced to Yeats because he is buried in the same churchyard as my Irish family]. My older sister was also into “culcher” and she brought this record, Red Bird, featuring Christopher Logue and the Tony Kinsey Quartet home and left it there. This sounded good on our radiogram, Mum and Dad were not bothered about it tho’. Mixing poetry and music was a 60s form of mash up. Bet you all think you’re in The Fast Show’s Jazz Club; ni-ice! (NB Christopher Logue, amongst many other things created Private Eye’s True Stories column).

And I was lucky because I had a passionate teacher of English for 4 yrs, Ken Hardacre an Oxon graduate who said he had Tolkien as a tutor. He really mixed it up; reading us stuff in Middle English; getting us into etymology and trying to get the class to read plays. Most felt embarrassed and hid behind deadpan delivery. I sat there frustrated as the words appeared to come to life off the page to me. He set up a book shop in the stock cupboard at the back of his classroom, so there I was aged 14 reading Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and thinking why am I still a believing Catholic?

He also got us into poetry, it was exciting, Penguin were bringing out the Modern Poets series. He introduced us to the Liverpool Poets in 1967 and we thought this was really cool. He must have been enthused by our interest because he organised a Saturday night trip for the interested of us to go and see Brian Patten in a room above a pub in Ware or Hertford. Ken took some of us in his car and one of us had a car for the rest so that was the party. Very bohemian like the folk clubs we went to, all “duffel-coated class warriors” ((c) Linda Smith) and (under-age) drinking and smoking with the staff but hey! this was the 60s. (Bet he didn’t do a risk assessment for that trip). I remember Brian Patten as a slight young man with massive curly hair, jeans, jumper, not much older than us, softly spoken, reciting these lovely poems. We reciprocated our appreciation of Ken treating us as adults by all volunteering to read in the school Poetry Competition and that enabled him to convince other staff it was worthwhile as a whole school event. That’s it up to 18 … but there’s more: I haven’t even started on Allan Ginsberg and Howl …
So think about your own encounters and feelings for poetry. Perhaps we can write one on the night?

And a bit of spare time before the ride? Then pop into the Graves to see the Picture the Poet exhibition with a lovely photo of Brian Patten about the time I saw him

The sources I have used are
T’internet &
Our Favourite Places “A Poetic Tour of Sheffield”
A Leboczky, A Pierre, A Sansom & P Sansom (eds) “The Sheffield Anthology: Poems from the City Imagined”
Sally Goldsmith “Are We There Yet?”
Helen Mort “Division St”
Tony Williams “The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles St”
​Google them!​