Chrys Salt is a poet with roots deeply planted in the theatre. She has produced four full poetry collections and four pamphlet collections and has performed on Radios 3 and 4, and done readings at venues and festivals across the UK and in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Finland and India. She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2014.
Born and brought up in Birmingham she left Erdington Grammar School early to train as an actor at The Birmingham Rep. A long and successful career in Repertory, Television, Radio and The West End followed, and this was combined with her poetry writing and performance, and later with writing and directing in the theatre and the publication of seven books for Actors. Chrys also ran workshops for professional actors at the Actors Centre in London for 20 years, experience she now brings to her ‘Make Your Writing Speak’ performance workshops for writers.
In recent years she has been the recipient of two Creative Scotland Bursaries, one for completing Dancing on a Rock and the most recent (2017) for research in The Yukon for her next collection based on the Klondike Gold Rush. This is due to be published by Indigo Dreams Pub (IDP) in late 2019.
Bibliography (selected from over two dozen publications):
The Punkawallah’s Rope (Pub: IDP 2017)
Dancing on a Rock (Pub: IDP 2015)
Weaver of Grass (Pub: Hatterick’s House: Artwork Deirdre Carlisle) shortlisted for The Callum Macdonald Memorial Award 2014
Grass: (Pub: IDP 2012)
Home Front/ Front Line (Pub: Roncadora) 2013
Greedy for Mulberries ( Selected poems) Pub: Markings 2009
Old Times Pub: Roncadora Press 2009
Make Acting Work Pub: Bloomsbury and Methuen
‘Written for an artist, by an artist’ Jude Kelly
Six audition books for actors with commentaries Pub: Methuen Drama.
Here We Go : Women’s Memories of the 1984/5 Miners Strike ( Pub: CRS. Winner of The National Media Award)
The Punkawallah’s Rope (Pub: IDP 2017)
The Punkawallah’s Rope marked the 70th Anniversary of the Partition of India and India UK Year of Culture. Chrys performed at The Kolkata Book Fair in 2016 and spent a month in Kolkata and North East India. The Punkawallah’s Rope offers a series of poems in a range of voices that reflect the colour, sound-track and history of India. How can a middle-class white woman begin to understand and engage with this most complex and challenging of continents?
These remarkable poems should be read by anyone contemplating (or sentimentalising about) a visit to the subcontinent. They cut to the heart. Peter Marinker (actor/broadcaster)
Chrys Salt read some of her poetry from ‘The Punkawallah’s Rope’ at The Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Chrys is an experienced and well-established poet, and that rare thing – a poet who can read her written poetry exceptionally well – in fact the best I’ve heard. (Cheltenham Poetry Festival)
Home Front/Front Line (Pub: Roncadora 2013)
Timed to coincide with the 15th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Home Front/Front Line records a dialogue in letters and poems between Chrys, a pacifist mother and her younger son who, as a Territorial Army Paratrooper was mobilised to Iraq in 2003 and spent 5 months in action.
It is a brave, beautiful and deeply unsettling way of making the reader look again at long-familiar events, as though the mother of Wilfred Owen or Edward Thomas had kept a verse-diary during the First World War. Andy Croft (The Morning Star)
(It) seems that WW1 wasn’t the only war to produce poetry of grandeur.’ Sam Smith. review in The Journal.
Weaver of Grass: (Pub: Hattericks House 2014) also Grass (Pub: IDP 2012)
Artist Extraordinary Angus MacPhee wove garments out of grass. Brought up in the rooted simplicity of a Hebridean crofting community he spent 50 years in a mainland mental institution, quietly weaving amazing garments of grass, sheep’s wool, wild flowers and leaves in the hospital grounds. He has become an icon for a lost way of life, but did this loss provide the impetus to develop his very particular art-form? What are we to make of an artist for whom the making was all and the subsequent destruction, of no consequence? And is it the financial crisis of the first decade of the 21st century – a crisis of values, not just of value – that has drawn writers and audiences back to Angus? Weaver of Grass traces the life and work of this remarkable man in a rich, moving series of poems exploring mental illness, the creative process, human frailty and ancient traditions
Chrys Salt captures the life and the distress of ‘outsider artist’ Angus MacPhee in language and imagery as natural as his materials – grass-roots, hawkweed, husk and seed, moss, buttercup, vetch and thorn – weaving them into an elegiac evocation of the loss and regret he worked through in his long years of incarceration. Her deeply felt and sympathetic take on a life so nearly wasted leaves the man and his creations ‘caught like a burr on cloth / of dim remembering’ bringing him to life in the deepest recesses of our mind’s eye.
Brian Johnstone (Artistic Director of StAnza International Festival)
Several poets have been drawn to the elemental and mysterious grass works of Angus MacPhee. But none has explored as fully, as Chrys Salt does in The Weaver, the possible connections between his inner world and the work he produced. This is a sequence of boldness and of sympathy; as unlikely as it may seem – and as mysterious – we may call it a meeting of imaginations. Tom Pow: poet
Central Books: 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN Tel: 44 (0)845 458 9911 Fax: 44 (0)845 458 9912 http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/chrys-salt-doar/4588125073
Indigo Dreams Bookshop www.indigodreamsbookshop.co www.amazon.co.uk/Punkawallahs-Rope-Chrys-Salt/dp/1910834599 Most books available on Amazon. Markings and Roncadora Publications can be ordered from the author at www.chryssalt.com
You Tube Videos:
Interview: Arab TV Station: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbetieLgdOo
Baghdad 2003 film poem; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0F10Smx4Fg
Seascape film poem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_bS2EihEM8
Awards & Prizes:
National Media Award (CRS)
New Writing Bursary (English Arts Council)
Work Development Award (Creative Scotland)
Fringe First (Edinburgh Festival).
Arts and Business Award 2012
The Burning was selected one of the Best Scottish Poems 2012.
Weaver of Grass shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Prize 2014
Research Bursary 2017 ( Open Lottery Funding)
Innovate Create Cultivate Award 2018
MBE for Services to The Arts 2014
Literary Festival Appearances
The Cheltenham Literary Festival, World Unite Festival (Leeds), Cheltenham Poetry Festival, The Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, The Tampere Poetry Festival, (Finland), Aye Write, The Wigtown Book Festival, The Edinburgh International Festival, Queens Park Book Festival, Islay Book Festival, The Festival of Firsts, The Wirral Poetry Festival, The Southside Festival, (Glasgow), The Aberfeldy Festival, Bath Literature Festival, The Kolkata Book Festival, StAnza International Festival, St Clémentin Bilingual Festival, (France).
Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers
Chrys is renowned for writing and performing sequences of poems that also lend themselves to interpretation in other art-forms e.g. music and film that are then incorporated into her live performances. There are currently three such ‘sets’ in the repertoire, each of which can be adapted to suit Festival timeslots – with or without a Q and A. As an option extra Chrys offers a ‘Make Your Writing Speak’ workshop to help develop performance skills.
Home Front / Front Line is a set based on the Roncodora pamphlet (see above) that incorporates two film-poems produced by film-maker Kenneth Smyth with music composed and directed by Katherine Gillham. This is a moving personal story of the pacifist Mum of a territorial soldier in the second Iraq War. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0F10Smx4Fg
Weaver of Grass: A Hebridean Tale is a set about the iconic Hebridean grass-weaver who died in the late 1990’s and is now recognised as an important ‘outsider artist’. The tale has inspired numbers of art-works and Chrys’ poems are now being woven into a new performance piece featuring Chrys and one of Scotland best-known harp players, Wendy Stewart. The work is offered with or without the harp settings and is followed by Ötzi The Iceman, a sequence about another grass-weaver: The Iceman uncovered in the Alps after being in deep freeze for 5000 years.
The Punkawallah’s Rope
How does a white middle-class woman from the ex-Colonial power make sense of modern-day India? This sequence of poems is based on a month in the North-East of India following a reading at the Kolkata Book Festival. Like India, the sequence is colourful, moving and challenging. It can be offered as a voice alone, but also with a landscape of music and sounds created by London-based musician Ajay Srivastav.
Make Your Writing Speak
Many good writers feel that the quality of their work is lost because they don’t have adequate performance skills. This workshop is offered by Chrys as an adjunct to readings and will help writers improve their skills and confidence in public readings. It draws on Chrys training as an actor and her long experience of (i) providing skill-development workshops for actors and (ii) presenting her own writing in public.
Contact email: email@example.com
Contact telephone – 07891 803027