Man who is ‘not religious’ has become Manchester Cathedral Poet of the Year
By Chris Young A Congleton poet who says he is not a believer has won an accolade for a religious poem.
John Lindley, former oet laureate for Cheshire, has earned the title Manchester Cathedral Poet of the Year with his winning piece, “Annunciation”.
It was entered into this year’s International Religious Poetry Competition, run by the cathedral.
Mr Linley, who said he was not a religious man, has dealt with the “human consequences” of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God, and that she should call him Jesus.
His poem describes the emotions a young virgin would experience having been told that she was to give birth.
One line reads: “…declare her the chosen vessel for the chosen one and lodge a weight in her womb that grows like a rumour.”
Mr Lindley said: “I am surprised it won because of some of the language used.
“It shows how open minded the judges are and that they are not just sticking to twee religious imagery. The poem reads as if someone is looking at this event from a human angle, and how fantastic and appalling it would be to be given this news.”
Competition judge Vona Groarke, also a poet, said: “Annunciation enjoys a forceful turn of phrase and extraordinarily arresting imagery.
“Taking a familiar story and re-telling it with the use of vivid detail, it offers a singularly memorable re-vision.
“It is a good poem, and it is a good religious poem, I believe, not just because of its biblical narrative, but because it goes to the bother of imagining, with verve and energy, the human consequences of divine intervention.
“It is a careful, earnest and singular achievement.”
Mr Lindley said: “I have always written about God and the Bible. It is the ultimate big
question. Every writer is going to address this from time to time. I treat Bible stories like I would any story, and they are really fascinating.”
He added that although he did not believe in religion, his poetry did not always need to be about questioning faith: “It gets very tedious if you only write poems in a confrontational way. I write in a way that serves the poem.”
Mr Lindley told the “Chronicle” he would have “no reservations” in letting people know at the cathedral of his lack of belief.
The Chronicle, Thursday, 21st October, 2010. www.chronicleseries.co.uk 5
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Families find forefathers’ names
Anyone called Condliffe who wanted to trace their background were among those who attended the Family History Society of Cheshire’s annual meeting.
At the venue, the New Life Church, West Road, Congleton, was one of the highlights, a 36ft chart of the history of the Condliffe family.
It had been put together by one of the clan, David Johnson, a second cousin of late “Chronicle” editor John Condliffe, father of present editor Jeremy Condliffe.
Mr Johnson, who can trace 95% of his ancestors to the Cheshire area, discovered there had been Condliffes in Sandbach since 1735. They had worked on canals and farms and in pubs
He had found the names of 2,500 forefathers since being asked to do so by his grandmother, Amelia Condliffe.
Other families were given help in finding out where they had come from at last Saturday’s meeting.
Mr Johnson, (77), said: “We have a very active membership and that showed on the day.
“Plenty of people came along to get help in tracing their ances
Congleton group members, from left, Sue Parker, David Smetham and Lesley Smetham. (“Chronicle” photo. 4118b/10).
“We really enjoy helping people to trace their family and the annual meeting is a great way of making contact with these people.”
The meeting allowed people to study parish registers, watch DVDs, listen to talks and study books.
Mr Johnson admitted that family history was a long term pursuit: “Programmes like Who
Do You Think You Are have made family history very popular and encouraged people to get in touch with us.
“But it can make it look like a quick job to find your ancestors, when in reality it takes a lot of time and effort.”
The society has members from all over the world and also helps people who do not have Cheshire ancestors.
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Members of the Alsager group at the meeting, from left, Diana Bevan, Roger Pask and June Cook. (“Chronicle” photo. 4118a/10).
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