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Poet Kevin McCann gets behind Blackpool's front
Kevin McCann
Kevin McCann says he is really pleased with the book

A creative writing project in Blackpool has been so successful they have made a book about it.

Behind the Front features contributions from 18 writers and was officially launched on 26 May 2010 at Blackpool Central Library.

The project was set up and funded by Blackpool Heritage after a similar initiative in Preston.

"The work in it will make people laugh and cry, but mainly think," says poet Kevin McCann who has edited the book.

'Resonates'

"I'm really pleased with it."

Kevin - who was described as "one of the best poets in the country" by Jimmy McGovern - led the workshop sessions with the creative group that resulted in the anthology.

The book features one of Kevin's poems 'Overheard' as well as a short story 'Behind the Horizon' by his brother Barry which gave Kevin the initial idea for the name of the book.

"No matter how clear the horizon seems, there is always something behind it," says Barry.

It was based on a news story from 1910 about a gypsy encampment on South Shore beach suddenly being evicted en masse. "The site was taken over by what is now Blackpool Pleasure Beach. As this is a scenario still being played out in Singleton at present, this tale from exactly a century ago still resonates now."

He adds: "Nothing really changes."

Kevin - winner of the 2006 Booktrust Writing Together Award - settled on Behind the Front for the title of the book.

"I wanted to highlight the lives of people who lived and worked in Blackpool over the years, the ones who aren't involved in showbiz or whatever," he explains.

Celebrity

Behind The Front
The book features poems, stories and plays from 18 writers

'Prince Eugine's Apprentice' - a poem by Keelie Walker - is about a female tattooist in Blackpool in the 1950s and 'Billy the Baggin' Boy' is a story by Anita Dewhurst dedicated to her brother, Bill Smith.

"As a youngster, Bill had been a Baggin' Boy, around Blackpool Central Railway station with his handcart offering to carry visitors baggage to their guesthouse, in return for a thrupenny bit or sixpence," explains Anita.

There is a touch of the celebrity, albeit minor, in Barbara Thomas's poem, Magical Mystery. It was based on a photo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney during a visit to Blackpool in 1963.

Barbara says: "I was drawn to a young boy in the background who is looking at them bemused. I thought of Paul Cole, the man who can be seen in the background of the cover for Abbey Road and how that turned him into a minor celebrity."

To Be Somebody by Danielle Smith is a short story set in the dressing room for the show girls at the Palace Variety bar. It centres on one girl whose chosen career is destroying her relationship with a possible husband to be, if the correspondence from him is anything to go by.

"It was based on letters and the fact they can be interpreted in so many different ways," explains Danielle.

There could well be a Behind the Front sequel on the horizon. Kevin says: "It was great to be part of the project; hopefully they will repeat it."

A limited number of free copies of Behind the Front are available in Blackpool Central Library.




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