Acclaimed Brighouse rapper and poet hopes to inspire new generation of Brontë fans with latest poem
Ever since a volume of poetry by the three Brontë sisters became their first work to be committed to print in 1846, the nation’s most famous family of writing talent has become synonymous with the bleak beauty of the moors above their former home in Haworth.
And a new collaboration is hoping to use a far more modern art form to capture the magic of the Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë for a new generation.
The University of Huddersfield has joined forces with Brighouse's Testament, the acclaimed rapper, playwright and poet, for a new poem which is inspired by the lives of the Brontës and is being promoted online on YouTube.
Dr Michael Stewart, the course leader and reader in creative writing at the university, showed Testament the landscape and places around Haworth that inspired the sisters to write defining novels such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
The area is also home to the Brontë Stones, a project led by Dr Stewart that placed four stones in key locations in and around Haworth. The stones feature inscriptions from leading contemporary writers Jackie Kay, Jeanette Winterson and Carol Ann Duffy, as well as singer Kate Bush, whose debut single, Wuthering Heights, was a UK number one in 1978.
“I wanted to work with Testament because I felt he might connect well with the students,” said Dr Stewart. “He’s great to work with. He’s a very warm, intelligent guy who is open to anything.
“By his own admission, Testament is no Brontë expert, but he allowed me to chew his ear off about them for hours while I took him on the tour around the stones. He took it all away with him and came up with this poem as a result.”
The collaboration emerged through a project involving the university, local schools and First Story, a creative writing charity.
While the coronavirus pandemic has prevented school trips to the moors, Dr Stewart decided to inspire students by commissioning Testament to write the new piece, which is called Brontë Thoughts.
Testament said: “Michael took me to each of the Brontë stones one rainy morning and it had a profound effect on me. The landscape, weather, the interplay between nature and the man-made, really gave me fresh insight on the Brontë legacy.”
His work is as eclectic as it is critically-acclaimed, and Testament has now contributed to a project linked to the Brontë family in his adopted home county of Yorkshire.
Born in London before growing up in Manchester, he now lives in West Yorkshire and has created the poem dedicated to the Brontës to inspire a new generation of literature fans.
His career in the arts has seen him write the award-winning play, Black Man Walking, and the monologue, Woke, as well as being in the Guinness Book of World Records for leading the largest ever human beatbox ensemble.
Testament, whose real name is Andy Brooks, has dabbled in classical literature before by creating his own remixed version of London, the poem written in 1794 by William Blake.