Ways To Weather The Storm


2021032120210327 (R4)In the flood-prone landscape of the Calder Valley, poet Clare Shaw asks what it means to live with the inevitability of severe flooding, and why this part of England continues to be loved by its communities - in particular by its many resident artists who are inspired by this watery, often bleak surrounding.

Recorded entirely on location on the steep-sided valleys and wind-swept tops of Calderdale, Clare discusses the pull and the perils of living here, and what this landscape and its communities can teach us about living with disaster of the most elemental kind.

Perhaps the most famous inhabitant of Calderdale is Ted Hughes, whose poem Rain is, for Clare, the most apt evocation of the rain here. Water is an ever-present force in this landscape and in its history. Local historian Nick Wilding and musician Alison Cooper describe the part water has played in the industrial past of the valley, as well as how it continues to affect local communities and the very real threat of climate change.

The impact of flooding comes to the fore in conversation with friend and actress Jackie Kington, whose house in Hebden Bridge often features in national news stories about the flooding of the town. With the poet Zaffar Kunial and storyteller Christine McMahon, Clare asks what role art plays in making sense of these huge events around us, and finding ways of recovering. Mixed-media artist Kate Boyce describes how the beauty and contrasts of this landscape inspire her work, and how her own chronic illness has changed her understanding of both life and landscape.

With thanks to the Ted Hughes Estate for use of his poem Rain, and the Arvon Foundation for allowing access to their terrace for socially-distanced outdoor recording.

Produced by Philippa Geering
Assistant Producer: Elizaveta Butakova
Mixed by Steve Wyatt

A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

Poet Clare Shaw explores how artists in Calderdale respond to extreme flooding.