Poetry and Mindfulness: BARS/Wordsworth Trust Report – Rebecca Ferrier

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Rebecca Ferrier is one of 2023/2024’s BARS/Wordsworth Trust Fellowship recipients. Rebecca spent a few weeks in Grasmere working with the Wordsworth Trust and the wonderful staff there. In this blog post, we hear about Rebecca’s time in the Lake District!

My time in Grasmere as a BARS/Wordsworth Trust fellow was greatly rewarding. In regards to my PhD work, I found materials at the Trust which fed into my thesis and early manuscript draft, which I wrote a partial introduction to at the Jerwood Centre. As I am working towards a Creative Writing PhD, I found time for creative output, with two draft poems centred around Dorothy Wordsworth’s domestic life, and another draft erasure poem about her brother, John, using one of William Wordsworth’s ecclesiastical sonnets. From sitting in on a presentation with curator Melissa Mitchell, to hearing about Jessica Sneddon’s poetry activities in the café, there was much to enrich the soul and inspire both academic and creative work. 

I enjoyed delving further into Wordsworth’s influences, especially in regard to early Christian history. I also began drafting a paper concerning the reinterpretation of one particular ecclesiastical-inspired poem by Wordsworth, which I hope to complete this year. Without my time at the Wordsworth Trust, I would not have accessed this information and been able to develop this particular approach.  

During the Fellowship, I also found a need to reframe my own ideas around archival research and presenting ideas to a different audience. As a novelist, I predominantly consider a readership audience. While talking to Jeff and the team at the Wordsworth Trust, spending ample time in the museum and hearing about everyone’s interests, I began to understand how a museum seeks to capture their visitors’ attentions, about the responsibilities of curation and how to engage a different type of audience than I’m familiar with. 

While I explored the Romantics and mindfulness, as linked to the pilgrim themes within my PhD, I uncovered my own personal revelations. Although I have always been a walker, lately I had seen walking only in regards to the steps I could meet, the pace I could reach and the time it took. In seeking to hit target after target, I had forgotten the joy of walking for walking’s sake, too stuck in familiar routines and ticking an item off a check-list or meeting my phone tracker’s ‘point’ goal. During my time in the Lakes, I rediscovered what my own pace was, met my body at its softer limits and surprised myself with what I could do when I gave myself the time to do it. I also made new friends, poetry connections and a firm desire to visit again what truly is ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’. 

Biography: Rebecca Ferrier’s lyrical debut novel The Salt Bind is due for publication by Renegade, Dialogue Books, in 2025. She is pursuing a Creative Writing PhD at Northumbria University, having been awarded a fully-funded studentship. She was the recipient of a Bridge Award for an Emerging Writer in 2020 and has previously benefited from Creative Scotland funding. She was shortlisted for the international Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize in 2023 and 2024. Her short prose can be found with Extra Teeth and New Gothic Review, while her poetry has been featured by The Friday Poem, Canthius and Poetry Ireland Review. She is a member of the RSE-funded DeathWrites network with Glasgow University. She is represented by Alex Cochran at C&W, part of The Curtis Brown Group.