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Chris white announced as first ever riddler in residence at exeter cathedral

20th April 2022

It’s been our pleasure to support Exeter Cathedral with the search for their first ever Riddler in Residence to explore the universal themes of the Exeter Book. We are delighted to announce the successful recruitment of Exeter-based performer and poet, Chris White, to this exciting and most unusual post.

The Exeter Book is more than a thousand years old and of global significance. It is one of four manuscript books which together are thought to preserve almost all the English literature to survive from the age of the Anglo Saxons.

The Exeter Book contains universal human themes which remain as relevant now as they were at the time of its creation. We are asking our Riddler to explore those themes with young people and together to look at their contemporary resonance. From nature, to climate change, the search for identity, home and new experiences – the themes are all in there, just waiting to be released.

Chris White is Riddler-in-Residence for seven weeks from 31st January 2022 until World Poetry Day on 21st March 2022. Look out for a celebratory public event on that day. He has already begun leading workshops with local young people and he commented as follows:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be the first Riddler at Exeter Cathedral. I’m excited to learn more about The Exeter Book, and to help more people engage with it. At the moment, it’s tucked away in the Cathedral Library, and most people don’t know that it exists at all. My hope is that I can guide people to it and help them to connect with it. It’s so extraordinary. You’ve got this thousand-year-old book of beautiful, perplexing, illuminating (and sometimes very rude) riddles and poetry, which talk about war, adventure, the natural world, and the everyday people that lived in the Middle Ages. It’s the oldest collection of English literature in the world and it’s sitting in the middle of Exeter.

It’s great to be working with young people, to get them writing some riddles and poems of their own, in-spired by the Book. I’m hoping I’ll also create some fun riddles myself.”

Chris White is a regular performer at nights and festivals including Raise the Bar, Tongue Fu, Latitude, Knee Deep, Sofar Sounds and Exeter Pride. Since 2018 he has hosted and promoted the Exeter based Spork! to bring more poets to the city, as well as featuring and supporting local talent. Chris has held a number of residencies, such as Siren Poets (2020 – 2021) and Boat Poets (2018 and 2021.) He has worked to commissions including making a short-animated film, The Island, for Exeter City of Literature. Chris was an associate artist at Theatre Royal Plymouth in 2019 when he developed Moist, Moist, Moist; a show about love, the sea and living with HIV. The show won the National Partnership Award with The Pleasance, has recently finished a week-long run in London, and will be touring in 2022. Chris has led writing workshops at Exeter Library, Exeter Phoenix and Theatre Royal Plymouth. He has recently been working as a shadow facilitator for Take Art’s Word/Play project, delivering weekly poetry sessions for adults with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

Main image: Russell Sach