Moss Side Gym Stories
Moss Side Gym Stories -
Moss Side is a small neighbourhood just outside of Manchester's city centre. In the 19th century Elizabeth Gaskell, inspired by the area, made her literary debut with the novel Mary Barton. She described Moss Side as a place of rural charm where Victorian workers and their families came to talk, play and relax. By the later part of the 20th century, the green fields that Gaskell knew had been replaced by housing estates, and Moss Side's reputation for riots, gangs and guns had spread nationwide. Growing up in Moss Side, Manchester's award winning poet Mike Garry, saw another side. Among its terraced rows Mike discovered a place where he could hear an echo of the qualities that caused Gaskell to put pen to paper - the Moss Side Leisure Centre. In the first of a two part programme Mike returns to the leisure centre to perform his epic poem, Men's Morning, an ode to the Friday morning male patrons of the centre. He spends time with the men who use the gym today to discover what, if anything has changed since he wrote the poem 20 years ago.
In the next programme Jackie Kay, acclaimed poet and Scotland's new Makar, writes her own poem inspired by time spent at the leisure centre, this time focusing on the women who use it.
Jackie Kay, acclaimed writer and Scotland's new Makar, writes a poem, commissioned by the BBC and inspired by the women who use Manchester's Moss Side Leisure Centre.
Close to the Centre are streets named in honour of one of the city's most famous residents, Elizabeth Gaskell, who moved to Manchester in the 1830s and knew these streets, as fields. In her debut novel, Mary Barton, Gaskell described this area as a place of serene rural beauty, where Manchester's families would come to walk, talk, rest and rejuvenate.
By the later part of the 20th century, the green fields had been replaced by housing estates. Moss Side's reputation for riots, gangs and guns spread nationwide but its ability to inspire writers remained intact, and a peaceful oasis - otherwise known as the Moss Side Leisure Centre - could still be found. In the first of these two programmes, the poet Mike Garry returned to the Moss Side Leisure Centre to perform his epic poem, Men's Morning, inspired by the Centre and the men who used it.
In this programme, Jackie Kay premieres her 21st century response - Moss Side Mirrors - an ode to the women who, like their 19th century antecedents immortalised by Elizabeth Gaskell, have found in this neighbourhood a place to escape from the pressures of daily life - to breathe deeply, unwind, and renew themselves.
Produced in Salford by Claire Press and Ekene Akalawu.