Poet’s festival date by Royal request

Poet Jennifer Gordon-Russell with some of the books her poetry has been published in. GM019167
Poet Jennifer Gordon-Russell with some of the books her poetry has been published in. GM019167
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A SUCCESSFUL Morpeth poet is making her mark in a new country, by Royal appointment.

Jenny Wallum, who writes mainly under her maiden name Jennifer Gordon-Russell, has already seen her work published in more than 20 books, including a number dedicated purely to her own work.

United Press has recently published a collection of her poems in Moments To Share Anew, and in the autumn a new book, Ten of the Best, is scheduled to come out.

But in the meantime Mrs Wallum has collaborated with two other writers to produce The Word Weavers.

The book is a collection of poems by the Morpeth poet, along with Rosa ‘Bing’ Carrion from the Philippines and Kezang Penjor, of Bhutan.

It has so impressed the Queen Mother of Bhutan that she invited the trio to take part in its Mountain Echoes festival this month.

Mrs Wallum, who splits her time between Morpeth, Sweden and the Philippines, could not attend in person as she is currently in the UK, but her poems have been read and studied at the festival.

“I won a literary festival in the British Virgin Islands in 1979, but that is the only other festival I have been in, until now,” she said.

“The Queen Mother of Bhutan was visiting the Philippines and I helped with an event to help raise funds for her charity. One of her friends is also a friend of mine, who is one of the other poets in the book, so that’s how it came about.

“All of us in the book are deep writers so you can read the work on the surface and there are aspects of my travels and of Morpeth, but there is always an underlying message in the poems.”

The Word Weavers was published in the Philippines last month. It will raise funds for the poets’ chosen charities.

Mrs Wallum’s share will go to the Entrepreneur Volunteer Association (EVA) Charity Foundation, which she founded in the Philippines in 1991 to organise livelihood projects for people displaced by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

Within three years equipment, microloans, training and educational scholarships were being offered through the charity, as well as other services requested by tribal elders.

The programme moved into school building projects in 2000 and to date 45 schools have been built.

The Morpeth community has been involved in supporting the schemes, particularly through Morpeth Lions Club.

Mrs Wallum, who was awarded the MBE for her charity work, said: “The proceeds from the book will go to three charities – EVA from my share, the Bhutan charity run by the Queen Mother, and to help a clinic in Marinduque in the Philippines.

“It is a very challenging year for EVA because the tax has changed and we have to change all our office receipts, but we still have volunteers who work for free, I still work for free and we are still building schools and are still offering scholarships.

“We have built 45 schools and in many cases the Government comes along, runs them and builds extensions.

“This is a charity that gives 95 per cent of its funds to the projects. The other five per cent is for the red tape, which has to be done to make us legal. We still get support from the Morpeth community, which is a constant encouragement.”

Mrs Wallum first showed her writing skill while a pupil at Stannington Primary School when her headteacher said she would one day be published. In recent years she has won several competitions run by United Press.