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Haunted Blackpool – A Dead Good Project

On Wednesday 31st October, Blackpool Dead Good Poets’ Society will be performing pieces from their new anthology, Haunted Blackpool in front of the Illuminations installation situated on The Cliffs, Queen’s Promenade.

The Haunted Blackpool project is a collaboration between Blackpool Arts Service, Blackpool Illuminations, Blackpool and the Fylde College and the Dead Good Poets’ Society to investigate local legends and ghost stories and reimagine them as creative pieces of writing.

Specially commissioned as part of the Arts Engagement Programme, the stories contained in this book were produced through a number of creative writing workshops held at Blackpool Central Library.  Aware that the final pieces were to be filmed for inclusion in the 2012 Illuminations, the  contributors were encouraged to focus on the oral storytelling tradition of the supernatural and to locate their work firmly in the Fylde area.

I asked Stephen Stroud from the Dead Good Poets who had the mammoth job of  editing the anthology to talk about his experience of leading on this project:

It’s been a really enjoyable experience to be part of something as iconic as the Illuminations.  Living in Blackpool, there can be a feeling that the attractions are there for the tourists so it’s great that so many projects have been produced through interaction with local people.

Working on Haunted Blackpool with the Dead Good Poets has been an eye-opening experience.  I never realised how many creative projects and agencies their are in Blackpool for people to get involved with.

The workshopping sessions we ran at Central Library were really fun, with loads of discussion on what’s spooky and what isn’t.  It was great coming back every week and seeing how the writers had redrafted their work and taken on board the suggestions of the group.

Seeing the final Illuminations installation up on the Prom was a buzz for everyone involved, even more so when we were told that the contributions were going to be made into a book.

It’s been great fun working with Blackpool Arts Service to get the Haunted Blackpool book produced and a fantastic learning experience for me working with talented designers such as Amanda at IntrepidFish and Carlito Juanito, who produced the brilliant cover.

We’re all really looking forward to finally seeing the finished product at the launch on Halloween.

Local artists Carlito Juanito and Rick Thompson worked with the writers to facilitate the transition from paper to projection.  Their efforts culminated in the form of two ghostly mannequins, baring the faces of the Dead Good Poets, who regale passers-by with their scary stories amongst crumbling gravestones and rusting iron fences.

We crept across the ballroom floor

To where we hadn’t been before.

A woman beckoned from her chair.

As we approached, she wasn’t there,

Just vanished, like she’d never been

But we both knew what we had seen.

And later, on the wide stair case

I froze as something touched my face.

I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t shout;

Someone was with me, there’s no doubt.

– From A Ghost Tour in the Spanish Hall by Pamela Winning

The writers will be reading their work from 6pm with a Haunted Blackpool ‘Switch-On’ at 6.30pm.  Join them for a fancy dress evening of spooky stories that will leave you with a chill down your spine.

Visit www.deadgoodpoets.blogspot.co.uk for regular weather updates. Unfortunately, the event will need to be cancelled if there are adverse weather conditions.

Haunted Blackpool is an Arts Engagement Project managed by Blackpool Council Arts Service and Blackpool Illuminations and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

This event is part of the Wordpool annual Festival of Words Oct 31st – Nov 16th. [email protected]

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