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Poetry celebrates the next chapter of Norwich’s ambitious literary future

PUBLISHED: 17:02 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:49 12 October 2017

Ruby Pinner delivering her new poem she has written to mark the breaking ground of the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall. 
Photo: Joanna Millington

Ruby Pinner delivering her new poem she has written to mark the breaking ground of the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall. Photo: Joanna Millington

Joanna Millington

The words of poets Ruby Pinner and George Szirtes have been heralding the next chapter for Writers’ Centre Norwich and the National Centre for Writing. Arts correspondent Emma Knights reports.

National Centre for Writing breaking ground celebrations at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Writers' Centre Norwich chief executive, Chris Gribble with poets Ruby Pinner and George Szirtes.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY National Centre for Writing breaking ground celebrations at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Writers' Centre Norwich chief executive, Chris Gribble with poets Ruby Pinner and George Szirtes. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“I do not know another place quite like this,” begins the evocative poem written to mark the latest stage in the modern day literary life of Norwich’s historic Dragon Hall.

Once a medieval trading hall, the King Street venue is set to be transformed into the National Centre for Writing by next summer, a fitting symbol of Norwich leading the way with words as a UNESCO City of Literature.

And what better way to celebrate the beginning of the building work on this ambitious project, led by Writers’ Centre Norwich (WCN), than with the words of poets.

WCN Young Ambassador Ruby Pinner was commissioned to write a new piece of poetry which she presented at Tuesday’s breaking ground ceremony at Dragon Hall.

An artist's impression of the National Centre For Writing at Dragon Hall in Norwich.
Image: Derek Jackson An artist's impression of the National Centre For Writing at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Image: Derek Jackson

Called New Era, it cleverly takes as its starting point another work written by Wymondham-based poet George Szirtes called This is the House the Word Built, and which was written to celebrate Writers’ Centre Norwich moving into its new home at Dragon Hall.

Here we share Ruby’s new poem and some of the words that inspired her.

• For more on the National Centre for Writing, visit www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk

You can also follow #TheNextChapter @WritersCentre on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

An artist's impression of the National Centre For Writing at Dragon Hall in Norwich.
Image: Derek Jackson An artist's impression of the National Centre For Writing at Dragon Hall in Norwich. Image: Derek Jackson

An excerpt from George Szirtes’ poem This is the House the Word Built which inspired Ruby Pinner’s poem New Era

This is the trading hall, this the undercroft,

these are the dragons, the witches, the roofbeams,

the house of the treasurer, the property of the businessman

the house of the mayor and mayor again

that was built with the money and fabric

the word built.

This is the house the word built.

New Era by Ruby Pinner

I do not know another place quite like this.

Where so many footprints have been planted, is

There an untouched spot left? Year after year this place takes the

Stage again: a new costume, a new role, a new face, trading

Old walks and ways for new and still this hall

Is ink-dripping with magic and spells. This

History is forever and the

Old world will always find its way home, crawling out from the ancient undercroft.

I do not know walls that have seen the world as these,

Rubbed shoulders with the rich and poor, are

They ready to welcome a new era? Will the

Doors open up and let the young ones fly on the backs of the dragons

That sleep here? The

Light, I’m sure, will shine through but still leave the witches

In peace and let the newborns sing along with the

Symphony of fluttering page after page, the roofbeams

A ribcage armouring the pounding heart, with the

Words of every continent so at home in this house.

I know not what the future holds, of

What mysteries lie beneath the

Ground we break, what treasure

Rests in wait. But it will be the property

Of every age, of

Every footprint from the

Writer, the student, the artist, the teacher, the architect, the businessman.

There is no other place like this.

This is

A pocket stuffed with some of the

Greatest stories ever told, trinkets of time handed down year after year after year, a house

For every thought, every sentence, every language, every poem, play and song. The

Soil is rich with memories that grow with every word,

Ready for the next life to be built.

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