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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 09:02 GMT
Woolly writing creates new poetry
Valerie Laws with some of the sheep
The poetry is also an exercise in quantum mechanics
A North East writer has been given a grant of 2,000 to use sheep to create random poems, which also utilise the deepest workings of the universe.

The money has been provided by Northern Arts for Valerie Laws to create a new form of "random" literature.

Each of the animals has a word from a poem written on their backs and as they wander about the words take a new poetic form each time they come to rest.

But the exercise is not just an attempt to create living poems, it is also, according to the poet, an exercise in quantum mechanics.


After last year's devastation (of foot-and-mouth) we all needed cheering up and this might just do it

Farmer Donald Slater

The animals being sprayed belong to farmer Donald Slater of Whitehouse Farm Centre, Morpeth, in Northumberland.

Mrs Laws, 48, said: "I like the idea of using living sheep to create a living poem, and creating new work as they move around.

"Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics which a lot of people find hard to understand, as it seems to go against common sense.

"Randomness and uncertainty is at the centre of how the universe is put together, and is quite difficult for us as humans who rely on order.

"So I decided to explore randomness and some of the principles of quantum mechanics, through poetry, using the medium of sheep."

Sprayed sheep
Sheep have individual words sprayed on them

Mrs Laws created a poem for the project, based on the traditional Japanese haiku form of poetry.

Each sheep had a word from the poem sprayed on their back, and when they came to rest a new text was created.

Farmer Donald Slater said: "After last year's devastation (of foot-and-mouth) we all needed cheering up and this might just do it."

A spokesman for Northern Arts called the scheme "an exciting fusion of poetry and quantum physics".

One of the poems created by the sheep reads:

Warm drift, graze gentle, White below the sky, Soft sheep, mirrors, Snow clouds.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Poet Valerie Laws
"The poem is about sheep and the way they move across the landscape"

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

26 Nov 02 | England
15 Nov 02 | England
13 Nov 02 | England
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