John has two published books, 'The Iron Bridge' and 'Congress'. Both are written in a poetic narrative style and are performed live in theatres and arts centres as dramatic readings. Congress is a multi-dimensional piece with accompanying music and visual images.
Congress The Iron bridge
Congress, published in 2022, is a story set against the factual backdrop of Buffalo Bill's visit to the UK in 1902-04 with his epic, extraordinary wild west show. It tells the tale of Soaring Hawk, a native American Lakota, and his family, who join the show, and Jack, a North Sea fisherman, and his family, who visit the show. The words are complemented in the book by beautiful paintings produced by Suffolk artist, Gill Dove, and a CD collection of songs and tunes written by John.
Buffalo Bill is the pivotal figure, as the similarities and experiences of the different characters unfold, focusing on the commonality of peoples across cultures and the degradation of the environment seen in the parallels between the destruction of the vast shoals of herring in the North Sea and the decimation of the buffalo in North America.
The narrative follows the central characters as the show travels across the railway towns of the UK, with its troupe of 800 people, 40 nationalities, 500 horses and more, arriving in Britain's most easterly town of Lowestoft. The wild west has come to the far east!
'Congress' the book is available for purchase with the CD of 23 songs and tunes to accompany the story. Congress is also a live show of music, narration and slideshow of archive photos and original artwork and is also available as a talk/workshop for festivals and community events. A radio version of the show has been broadcast twice by BBC Radio Suffolk as a 5-part serealisation.
"A gripping narrative and stirring music ... the quality of the writing, music and production is superb."
Steve Martin, BBC Radio Suffolk
The Iron Bridge is an accessible, lyrical piece - an epic poem - based on the history, lives and characters of John’s hometown of Lowestoft. Never mentioned by name and could be set in many similar coastal towns, features of Lowestoft will be recognisable to anyone familiar with the town. The tale takes the reader on a journey through various periods in the town’s history. Drawing on real events and imagination, the narrative weaves together characters and landscapes from different ages to form a magical vision of the town’s past and present.
John’s text is illustrated by internationally acclaimed local artist, Mark Burrell, who painted the cover and created ten stunning pieces to accompany scenes from the poem. The narration has been performed in theatres and at festivals over the years and the text has been used in schools and community workshops, and was recommended as reading in Dr Ken Pickering’s anthology for people studying the Trinity College drama syllabus.
“The painter and the brush – the writer and the pen – never do the two more absorbingly collide than in John Ward’s 'Iron Bridge'. An epic masterwork.” Dr John Tams, Award-Winning Actor, Writer and Musician
“I was rendered completely speechless when I tried to tell John how much I enjoyed his masterpiece …. this is a fantastically powerful piece of work” BBC Radio Suffolk