Monday 25 November 2019

How to Produce an Historic Timeline - or how not to...

...and news of my second ekphrasis poem published in the Ekphrastic Review

In my August blog I posted up the following apology:
Posts have been few and far between recently because I've been kept busy working on the displays and texts for a new Visitor Centre at Leicester's Orthodox Synagogue.
I didn't expect to be still working on it in November although I'm glad to say that I can now see the end of the first section of work. Thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Fund there will be a new communal area beside the Synagogue and I was asked to co-ordinate the writing and preparation of an historic timeline for a long wall in the room that is earmarked for educational visits, talks and social events.

'No problem,' I thought when I was first approached back in April. I'll just jot down the historical facts, get some pictures to illustrate and send it to the graphic designers to turn it into a permanent wall display.


The history of the community dates back to the 1830s. Early evidence is scant but I've had help, a very good friend who is excellent at research. She found old newspaper extracts: one about a wedding in 1835 that had to be held in an Inn because there was no synagogue, another dated 1897 tells of the laying of a foundation stone for the Synagogue that is still standing today.

We moved on to the First World War and found evidence of young Synagogue members who had fought in France: one received the Croix de Guerre for bravery, another was a poet and we found an extract of a poem that he could well have written in the trenches.

It was all going really well... until we reached the years that we all remember, our own personal involvement in this historical account, and then things became complicated. Who do we include? Who do we leave out? How can one wall do justice to the contributions of the multitude of families who have met, married and prayed at the Synagogue over the last 60 or so years?

Seven months later we have just about got the timeline ready for those graphic designer whizz kids to turn it into some kind of vinyl wallpaper for the allotted wall.

I can't wait to see it on the wall 
but at the same time 
I dread seeing it on the wall 

because I know that no matter how many people I've spoken to and consulted about content, there will be someone who comes up to me when it's all done and dusted and says, "Why didn't you include..."
On a lighter note: I've just had another ekphrasis poem accepted on the Ekphrastic Review (an online magazine that only accepts poetry written in response to art work of any kind.) This poem was for a challenge. They choose the picture and we're given two weeks to write and submit a poem. They do it every fortnight but this was the first time I'd tried this particular challenge. 
If you'd like to have a look at it here's the link: Ekphrastic Reviewbut it's not easy to find. Scroll down to the image of a muddy evening with people walking home alongside a river painted by Emilio Boggio. My poem is called End of the Day and it's 14th in the list of successful submissions.
 And now please excuse me because I have a timeline to finish...