FAVOURITE THINGS: Poet Laura Potts on what’s great about Wakefield

Wakefield poet Laura Potts shares her Favourite Things
Wakefield poet Laura Potts shares her Favourite Things

Laura Potts, 21,was born and raised in Wakefield. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her poems have appeared in Ezra Pound’s Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Interpreter’s House.

Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year shortlisted in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Heath Common.

Heath Common.

She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017.

Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas 2017.

At early dawn, I think of home. Outside my room the city slopes, slowly purring back to life. The bells will soon ring morning in, one day closer to the spring and lifting up the city from its bed yet again. I watch the mouths of houses yawn and push the children out, and parents leading them again towards the schoolbell hour.

It’s early dawn in Wakefield, and this is always home.

Wakefield Hospice colour run.

Wakefield Hospice colour run.

To begin, there’s morning: from the window of my childhood I see the rolling towns, always that much brighter in the rising, orange day. Especially under winter skies, I watch the city folding out and Emley Moor standing with all of Yorkshire round about.

This, without doubt, is my favourite sight, and I am lucky enough to have it right outside my house.

But on the morning’s further side, I’m always fond of how the sun will stretch its way on Heath, and ponies on the Common in the rising winter mist. Sometimes, I take the bus up there just to see the open grass and chimney-steam lifting from the houses in the dark. There’s something pre-industrial and almost medieval here.

The land is living, not existing; like lungs, its fields rise and fall; and I have always liked the geography. Take any place in Wakefield and I promise you will find this: the endless breathing of the land which swells and rolls

President George Denton at the Red Shed Labour Club in Wakefield.

President George Denton at the Red Shed Labour Club in Wakefield.


And I like its urban face: at times a clashing, curious place.

Look to the left over Chantry Waters and there you’ll find the Chapel, the soot of ages on its back and standing in the grasses that have grown through all the years. While on the right its counterpart evens out the sky: the Hepworth sits, modernist, amid the bones of industry.

I like this map the most: the past beside the present, and the promise of the future on the road that lies between.

I also like that Wakefield has not forgotten heritage.

Westgate is a favourite walk of mine: above the shops,above the eyeline, architecture spanning from the Georgian to the post-war days keeps the city’s lineage alive.

Have you ever stopped to spot it? Next time, well, you should.

The Picture House, the Clothing Hall, the clock that ticks among it all that mostly goes neglected.

Masked by modernity the city may be, but still the past lives on.

Even lexically, Wakefield has maintained its history: in the survival of ‘Westgate’, ‘Northgate’ and‘Kirkgate’ we find Old Norse origins and the keys to an early map of the city.

The land is one; the folk another. I like the one; I love the other. Particularly their spirit to give.

Know me, and you’ll know my greatest pride for home lives on the quiet head of a hill.

Wakefield Hospice will always be, for me, the unsung one deserving of the loudest song with all the bells and organs our Cathedral can ring.

We’re lucky to have a hospice, but luckier still to have those who support it.

So yes, for its mutual spirit, it is my ‘favourite thing’ in this city: that is, for the way it survives on a perfect medium of giving and receiving with nothing but kindness within its walls, only made possible by those outside them.

And last of all: The Red Shed (below right) If you like your CAMRA ale and sheds that are literally red, you’ll already be a regular.

But if not, I’d recommend this offbeat, rather lonely-looking pub between the city shadows.

And, of course, the Shed stands as testament to the everyman and the working day which built these towns throughoutthe years: this is also Wakefield’s Labour Club.

So if you like real ale and a friendly crew, and every now andthen even poetry to listen to, just go along and pull up a chair.

They’ll make you welcome. We’re alright here.