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Launch of Poem to Reclaim Coventry’s Lost Literary Landscape

Launch of Poem to Reclaim Coventry's Lost Literary Landscape

Originally Published 18 November 2002

A book-length poem Ludus Coventriae by distinguished poet David Morley that celebrates Coventry's history and people is to be launched on Wednesday 20th November at Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, at 7.15pm. The book fuses Coventry's famed Mystery Plays, the medieval Coventry Carols and 20th Century history to produce a poem that depicts the lives of city inhabitants over past centuries.

Morley's Ludus Coventriae or 'Coventry Play' is a radical book whose starting points are the Coventry Carols and the bombing of Coventry by the Luftwaffe. The book uses poetry as a tool to uncover and rebuild Coventry's lost literary past, which is as rich as the archaeological treasures found in the city. The first section adapts and reconstructs a selection of the Coventry Carols. The second piece, November, is simultaneously set in medieval Coventry, and the morning of 14th November 1941 before the major blitz.

David Morley, who directs the Writing Programme at the University of Warwick, said: "I want to give something back the city that adopted me five years ago and has given me the chance to carry out writing projects with thousands of Coventry people. The city has a rich history and, finally, this is being celebrated. This text restores the history of the people of Coventry and the literary history of this unique city."

The original Ludus Coventriae, thought to belong to the Coventry cycle of Mystery Plays, is now thought to have originated in East Anglia. David Morley's latest poem brings the drama and poetry up-to-date as it reclaims the title Ludus Coventriae and restores it to its rightful owners, the people of Coventry.

Written by Coventry people the Coventry Carols get their power from simple expression and repetition, and many of them entered folk memory as lullabies. Over time they have evolved as generations have made their mark on the language. These words record ancient Coventry dialect, which are now restored in Morley's latest book.

The Phoenix Initiative, a regeneration scheme designed to take Coventry forward by breathing new life into archaeological treasures and preserving its invaluable heritage, commissioned the poem. The book is now being set to music for a performance involving Coventry school children.

Tickets are available from the Arts Centre Box Office at £5.00 and £3.00 (Concessions) Tel: 024 7652 4524

For more information contact:

Jenny Murray,
Assistant Press Officer,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 02476 574255
Mobile: 07876217740 or

David Morley,
Director of Warwick Writing Programme,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 024 7652 3346

David Morley is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. Founder of the Warwick Writing Programme in 1996 he has published several award winning volumes of poetry, including Mandelstam Variations, Clearing a Name and Releasing Stone. Textual public artworks include collaborations with the sculptors/artists Francoise Schein, David Annand, Jochen Gerz and David Ward.