Tag Archives: commissions

Natural Burials

DSCN0754 Any ceremony that accompanies a natural burial is as flexible as your imagination, takes into consideration the environment and has minimum impact upon it.

I’ve been honoured to work with people on planning their funerals and found natural burials offer the chance to explore what living and dying means in a spiritually fulfilling way.

The Dalton Woodlands Burial Ground, near Burton-in-Kendal Cumbria UK, is a 30 acre mature woodland, a quiet and restful place to be buried. Francis Mason-Hornby, the registrar there, is a straight talking, compassionate man, open-minded and accommodating to what people want.

Natural burials are an environmentally sustainable alternative to cremations and churchyard burials. If you respect the natural world, a woodland burial is the chance to take a positive step at the end of your life.

To discuss that rite of passage, in advance, offers a chance to step consciously towards death, prepare how you want your life to be celebrated, how to mark your departure for those left behind. It can be a point of coming to terms with the end of an illness or old-age.

It can also alleviate the stress for others who have to plan and prepare at the disorientating time of grief.

My eight years of coaching gives me the skills and depth of experience to ensure we will plan the ceremony you want. My interest lies in you expressing your life and anticipation of death. How you want to do this and who you want involved is the focus of our meetings. I would hope to meet any family or friends you would want to participate to ensure the smoothest experience for us all.

I can write anything for the ceremony, help you to write something, read it or merely orchestrate the ceremony while others read and speak.

Writing commissions

Over the years I have written to many commissions, not just Tailormade Poems. These came from residencies, festivals and projects. Some are detailed below.

For the Walking on Wyre project I was asked to write a piece to reflect the river, its history and people. You can read about the project here

I wrote on Ursa Minor for Heavenly Bodies, an anthology of  the 88 constellations published by Beautiful Dragons Press.

A sequence of four poems about the changing light at the mouth of the Lune  was commissioned for Lancaster Lights  by Litfest in 2013.

2003-2005 I was the inaugural poet in residence for Calderdale Libraries in West Yorkshire. Responsible for establishing reading groups and promoting poetry reading throughout the library service, the residency culminated in a collaborative publication, with artists John Lyons and Hafsah Naib, called Reading is Believing.

Birthdays

birthdaysBirthdays, especially the big 0s, are worth marking. Either for a handful or hundreds of loved ones, I will devise, with you, a unique ceremony that will celebrate you and embrace your past and future.

Once devised I can hold the space, run proceedings and keep an eye on timings so you fully enjoy your party.

Or I can help you devise your own personalised ceremony and once  it’s decided upon, provide you with a script and other prompts for a friend or family member to run.

Example A 50th
Outset
The Birthday Girl had booked the venue and was now wondering if she actually did want a party. It all seemed rather daunting. Although she knew she wanted to mark her birthday somehow. We talked about what was important to her: her friends, celebrating the spiritual and creative elements in her life, her connection with the environment and her philosophy of recycling. We also established she wanted a small ritual that had a discreet place to the evening, that, on further investigation, would involve everyone and focus on her.  And a poem to convey growth. By the end of our conversation she announced how much she was looking forward to the night.
Outcome
I made small planters, filled with soil, and topped with a cardboard leaf, found seeds that would grow from that time of year and took enough candles and lighters etc.
On the night I welcomed people by inviting them to light a candle and decorate the path to the venue with them in candle bags. At the designated time, I drew the crowd together, introduced the ceremony, explained what we were going to do. Everyone was given a seed to plant in their planter and asked to write a wish on the leaf for the Bday Girl. Those that wanted read out their wishes as the Bday Girl glowed and growed from the goodwill. The poem was read out – by her oldest friend there – and she responded to the crowd with a few beautiful, heartfelt words she’d prepared. And then there was cake.
She took the wishes and seeds home, to read again and watch as the seeds germinated over the following weeks.
Simple, authentic, inclusive and long-lasting.

I understand the ceremony has to be absolutely right for you and am happy to meet or talk over the phone for you get to a feel of my style before booking me. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions without any obligation to continue.

Fees will vary depending on the nature of your event, beginning at £50 for consultancy & devising only.

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Namings

dollYour child’s name will be the word they hear more regularly than any other. Its sound and rhythm will inform their identity.

The sound and rhythm of the naming ceremony will be present in the environment, rituals, words and music you choose for the occasion.

Welcoming this person into your life, and that of your family and community, can also include your hopes for them as well as for
yourselves, your knowledge of them, other people’s understanding of you, and vows you may wish to make. Whatever you choose to
focus on, we’ll create a loving event that truly reflects your feelings.

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Weddings

secular wedding north west englandIf you’ve chosen to get married, to make public your commitment to each other, then you’ll want a ceremony to suit your personalities and reflect your union and aspirations for it. A secular wedding is limited only by your imagination. You can have it wherever you choose, with a visit to the registry office before or after
ceremony itself.

My role is to help you create your own customized ceremony – the setting, readings, music, poems, vows and any rituals – for this rite that is both intimate and public. My aim is to make it as
individual as you and your relationship.

If you are wanting a civil ceremony and would like to explore what is possible, then I’d be honoured to contribute to your event, and work with you with care and attention to every detail.

I am not a registrar and the ceremony I make won’t be legally binding, but works in conjunction with a registrar. It is ideal if you have a particular building or outdoor space in mind that isn’t registered for marriages.

I understand this ceremony has to be absolutely right for you and am happy to meet or talk over the phone for you get to a feel of my style before booking me. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions without any obligation to continue.

fees begin at £350

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A truly inspirational jewellry designer is MacMillan-Clare

I also offer Vow Renewals

Projects

For over twenty years I’ve worked in publishing, produced events and tours, on writing commissions and running workshops in a variety of environments, such as prisons, community centres, day-care centres, hospices, schools and universities.

Recent Projects

Past Projects
022-launch
Arc International Poetry Tour
A UK-wide tour international poets,
for Arc Publications.

Going Back a Bit

There are a few interviews with myself and Jo Brandon at Cadaverine magazine, and with Jenn Ashworth on the Lancashire Writing Hub.

I wrote call and response poems with Jo Brandon for Like Starlings, an online collaborative project that was enormous fun.

I was poet in residence for Calderdale Libraries, finding ways to encourage people to read more poetry. I organised events, ran reading groups, seminars and was involved in making a large book with two artists, John Lyons and Hafsah Naib, to display in the libaries to celebrate the joy of reading

Ceremony

civil ceremony north west england

We all have stories, and stories within stories, that frame our relationships, rites of passage, environments and events. These can
be explored and shared in a ceremony that expresses your own
sensibility, experience and hopes.

A civil ceremony has the freedom to take place anywhere that best reflects your intent. The formality or informality, size and details of
your ceremony are determined by the type of event desired.
Rituals can be grand gestures or intimate moments.

I relish collaborating with people to ensure moments of significance are marked in authentic ways. Spontaneity in the planning can enliven the process and bring genuine individuality to the ceremony.

I devise and deliver WeddingsBirth & Namings, Vow Renewals,
Birthdays and Launches. More details on my ceremony making are here.

What I offer
I provide an initial meeting to design your ceremony. This can be in person, over the phone or Skype. We discuss your aspirations: the why, where, what and how of the occasion. My skill is in helping you find exactly what it is you want, from the overarching theme to small, significant details: the glaze on the cherry on the icing on the cake.

As a writer I can write the wording, give drafts over to you for discussion and amendment, or not. I also have a huge knowledge of possible poems and other writings that may suit your needs.

A rehearsal is also included for Wedding and Civil Partnership
Ceremonies.

As facilitator of the ceremony I can be as present as you wish, as your occasion requires. I will ensure everyone knows what is going to happen and act as a guide to the event, holding the space so it’s as sure and safe as possible for everyone there.

Types of ceremonies I offer are Vow Renewals, Birthdays and Namings as well as the Weddings and Launches listed in the next menu.

Add-ons
I make limited edition art books and pamphlets and can design, or advise on the design of, any printed materials you may want to
accompany your ceremony.

I also have approximately 100m of bright material bunting in 5m strips I can supply for any occasion – as part of the service.

Script-only
If you would prefer a family member or friend to deliver your ceremony but would like help with the content, I can offer a script-only service.

What it costs
Piece-of-string territory here.
My minimum for all (bar weddings) is £50.
What it goes up to is up to you and what you want.

I do enjoy the low tech side of ceremony and value pre-loved
resources, so  happily work to smaller budgets.

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I can also point you towards a great photographer, dressmaker and cake-maker based in the north west of England. And probably know other people who can help make your ceremony just as you want.