‘Cornwall In My Soul’
May 1, 2015
Truro Festival, an annual celebration of art, culture and music, held a talk over their celebration week titled ‘Cornwall In My Soul’ led by the county’s ever popular myCornwall magazine.
The talk was held in a yurt tent on Lemon Quay. As guests entered, they were met with current issues of myCornwall magazine which were free to pick up. Fairy lights adorned the draping curtain ‘walls’ and cushions lay waiting on chairs for guests to sit on.
With Cornwall’s recently acknowledged Cornish Minority status, the event was the perfect way in to talk about a love of all things Cornish – and determining whether people really do have Cornwall in their very souls, even from places all around the world.
To begin, five speakers were introduced, each ranging from backgrounds involved with Cornwall Council, Gorseth Kernow, the Cornish Language, poetry and Cornish overseas.
Jowdy Davey, who was made a Cornish Bard after five years of studying the Cornish language, led the talk by first of all humourously thwarting the common misled (and sometimes outrageous) assumptions and myths associated with Bards, such as ‘all bards are wizards’ and the likelihood that every Bard should have a long, grey flowing beard, (though she admitted that some of them do).
She also spoke about Gorseth Kernow’s role in representing Cornwall at civic occasions and important events, enlightening people about what it is that the organisation really does that people may not particularly know about.
Next was evocative poet Abigail Wyatt, who read from her own poems relating Cornwall to her soul in terms of identity, time and place. Her poems focused on her childhood, while the latter two were based on an exhibition she went to held by Cornish Studies after being inspired by letters written by a soldier during World War 1.
To end, her poem based on this Cornish soldier featured these uplifting and spirited words below, resonating Cornish culture amid the perils of the deadly trenches:
‘We Cornish lads, we sang and we sang and we showed them the way.’
Not only in Cornwall but across vast places all over the world, people overseas claim to have Cornwall in their souls, despite living thousands of miles away.
Mike Kiernan, involved with the Cornish Global Migration Programme, explored this idea and talked about his experiences meeting Cornish descendants and migrants from all around the globe.
The Cornish Global Migration Programme aims to record all aspects of Cornish migration history and provides a link to Cornish ancestors worldwide. As well as this, they have a growing archive filled with photographs, documents and literature all about Cornwall and its migrants over the years.
Mike told the audience that it was fascinating to discover so many communities all over the world that harboured such a strong passion for Cornwall and its lifestyle, meeting many people from across Cuba, Mexico, Asia and America.
After this, Jenefer Lowe who is part of the Cornish Language Partnership spoke about Cornish history, the Cornish language, the distinctiveness of Cornwall and its identity. Though it is of course a very vast subject to cover in so little time, she managed to cover most aspects of Cornish culture, especially those famous to most people such as Dolly Pentreath and our glorious pasties.
Not only this, but she also spoke about the Cornish Language Partnership which is an organisation set up to promote the Cornish Language and to use common phrases as part of everyday life more and more.
Lastly, Simon Reed, a columnist for myCornwall magazine encouraged people to take part in the charity Cornish Culture Association, an organisation set up to increase people’s interest in Cornish cultural activity. Based in Penzance, the charity prides itself on its ‘distinct vibrant Cornish culture’ and welcomes anyone who would like to get involved.
Truro Festival went on for the rest of the week, inviting guests to join in with various crafts, writing and music workshops. Throughout the festival there was a vibrant and interested atmosphere, heightened by local stalls and delicious locally sourced food.
Emily is a student at Falmouth University studying Creative Writing and is the Sub Editor for Cornish Story. Having grown up in Cornwall, she has a deep love for the landscape and its stories.