Dissonant Voices Special – Scandal & Tragedy: the Draining of the Yorkshire Fen
Professor Ian Rotherham with Steve Ely
At 7.30 on the 11th July, at the Tap & Barrel pub, Front Street, Pontefract, the world expert on the lost Yorkshire Fen, Professor Ian Rotherham, (author of Yorkshire’s Forgotten Fenlands and The Lost Fens) will team up with Dissonant Voices host, Steve Ely, to give a special talk and present poetry relating to the lost Fen.
Ian explains, ‘The Yorkshire Fen, centred on Thorne and Hatfield meres, began only a few miles east of Pontefract, and was a wonder of the natural world comparable to the modern day Okavango swamps of Botswana or the Camargue in France — a wilderness of waterfowl, eagles, wolves, boar and deer. However, from the 17th century onwards — in an act of sustained ecological and social eradication comparable to the modern-day destruction of the Amazon — the Fen was progressively drained, its people evicted and its superabundant flora and fauna displaced, made extinct, or reduced to a fraction of their former numbers. Today few people are aware that it ever existed.’
In an evening of discussion and poetry, Ian will narrate the tragedy of the fen and describe the conflict that accompanied its drainage, including accounts of the resistance of the fen people to this process — a resistance that began in the 17th century and continues to this day. Ian will also present poetry written by the fen-folk themselves, protesting the assault on their landscape and livelihoods and will be in discussion with Steve, who will read some of his own poems about Yorkshire’s lost ‘watter world’ that explore the outlaw dimension of the Fen.
Steve comments, ‘We are delighted to have secured an expert of Ian’s status for this unique — and free —event. The mixture of discussion and poetry — in the convivial context of the Tap & Barrel, which has recently become the hub of art and performance in Pontefract — promises to provide a stimulating and enjoyable evening’s entertainment.’
Professor Ian Rotherham is Professor of Environmental Geography and Reader in Tourism & Environmental Change at Sheffield Hallam University. He is also a regular columnist and contributor to the Sheffield Star and the Yorkshire Post, and has a regular monthly phone-in with BBC Radio Sheffield. The author of over 500 academic papers and 600 newspaper and magazine articles, and author or editor of 30+ books, he is an authority on wildlife, wetlands, history and environmental politics and economics. He can be contacted at I.D.Rotherham@shu.ac.uk .
Steve Ely is the host of Dissonant Voices. He is a poet and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07799404155.
Come along and join this evening of an illustrated talk, of readings, and poetry – all about Yorkshire’s Lost Fens