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49 Waltzes for Elmet

2012-

– cartography, elmet, john cage, poetry


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’49 Waltzes for Elmet’ is a writing project initiated and curated by Rob Lycett, which will become a poetic adaptation of John Cage’s 1977 ’49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs’. This project is part of an ongoing exploration of the relationship between maps and words.

A map of ‘Elmet’, with a geography that bears similarities to that of ‘Remains of Elmet’ by Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, will be marked with locations. Ted Hughes described the area of Elmet as…

“the upper Calder and the territory roughly encircled by a line drawn through Halifax (on the east), Keighley (on the north-east), Colne (on the north-west), Burnley (on the west), and Littleborough (on the south-west): an ‘island’ straddling the Yorks-Lancs border, though mainly in Yorkshire, and centred, in my mind, on Heptonstall.” p9

Each of these locations will be represented by a short stanza. Stanzas are identified via an index number and a latitude and longitude locator. Using a chance operation, 147 stanzas will be arranged into groups of three, thus completing what Cage called a waltz. A waltz will form a three stanza poem. There will be 49 waltzes and they will be represented on the map with coloured lines.