SOME poets find inspiration from nature, others from myths and legends. But one has now chosen a very different setting in which to seek his muse – a North Yorkshire rubbish depot.

John Wedgwood Clarke, described by eminent Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage as among the best modern bards, plans to visit a North Yorkshire County Council household waste recycling centre over the next year to observe what people throw away and ask them for their views on waste.

The project will conclude with a collection of 12 poems and creative writing sessions at local schools through a project based around the Seamer Carr depot in Scarborough and funded by an Arts Council award.

Dr Wedgwood Clarke, Leverhulme Poet in Residence at the University of Hull’s Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, who has a Doctorate of Philosophy in modernist poetics from the University of York, said he had always been fascinated about what happened to people’s rubbish, which inspired him to begin a journey of poetic discovery with a difference.

“There’s a theory that civilisation has involved a journey away from our waste and, in developed countries, it’s spirited away once a week,” he said.

“We put the bins out and, as if by magic, it all disappears, but it doesn’t. I want to follow what happens throughout the waste management process as it gets sorted and transformed, because a poet’s job is to show the world in a different light, and during this project I’ll get to observe a little-known world and bring it to the attention of us all through poetry.”

The project has been backed by the county council and Scarborough Borough Council, and regular updates will be posted at

Coun Chris Metcalfe, the country’s council’s executive member for waste management, said: “This unique project will bring the message of the importance of reducing and recycling waste to a new audience in a very creative way.”

Waste - or taste?

“A bin of beauty is a joy forever.”
Endymion, by John Keats.

“I recycle thro’ each charter’d street/Near where the charter’d Derwent does flow.”
London, by William Blake

“All that is gold does not litter.”
The Lord Of The Rings, by JRR Tolkien

“Garbage, garbage against the dying of the light.”
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, by Dylan Thomas

“I am the master of my waste/I am the captain of my skip.”
Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.