16/12/2020 - Permalink

Shropshire Libraries “Poetry on Demand” success

Related topics: Leisure, culture and heritage / Partner organisations

A poetry project delivered through Shropshire Libraries proved a hit with Shropshire residents during November’s lockdown.

“Poetry on Demand” gave people the opportunity to request a personalised poem by well-known regional writers including Jonny Fluffypunk, Jane Seabourne, Spoz, Brenda Read Brown, Fergus McGonigal and Emma Purshouse. This was made possible due to a 20-year partnership between Shropshire Libraries and Poetry on Loan, an organisation that works with libraries to promote contemporary poetry across the West Midlands.

Poetry on Loan graphic

Poetry on Loan

Twenty three personalised poems were created in just a few weeks and the feedback was astonishing. People asked for poems to gift to their loved ones, to make their friends smile, and there was even a poem requested for volunteers. Due to high demand the project had to finish early, but the library service is hoping to offer it again in 2021.

Brenda Read-Brown, the Poetry on Loan co-ordinator and one of the poets, said:-

“During the pandemic, many poets (along with other artists) have lost most of their work. It’s been great to be able to offer them this opportunity to exercise their skills. What’s more, our group of Poets on Demand really enjoy doing this – it’s a joy for them to be able to give pleasure to other people, and the feedback has been a terrific boost for everyone.”

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said:-

“This was a really imaginative way of supporting the arts sector in these challenging times. Through partnerships such as Poetry on Loan, libraries are well placed to nurture artists who can deliver unique experiences to people to inspire and connect with others. I wish I could have been there to listen to people’s reactions when they received their poems.”

For the Friends of Flaxmill Maltings on their 10th anniversary 

Thank you, Friends.

In the quiet corners of busy lives

you’ve carved nooks of time in which

to keep the glories of the past alive.

You speak and explain and inspire.

and you listen- you’re the ones whose ears

catch the rattle of shuttles, the echo of

machinery’s clatter and roar, a faint

ricochet down two hundred years;

you can taste the sweet sprouted malt

on the words that trip from your tongues.

You brilliant bunch.

Long may you gather the people round.

Tell the stories. Keep the flame alive.

Your passion is strong as woven flax;

let it darn the holes in this town’s memory.

Let it hold up the bricks of this building

just as sure as any pioneering iron frame.

By Jonny Fluffypunk

Some of the feedback we received from people who requested a poem:

“What a brilliant project! That really gave both my partner and I a much needed laugh. I seemed to have something in my eye towards the end there too… uncannily accurate.”

“I highly recommend being both honest, creative when you fill in the form – give in to whimsy but also bare your soul, and you’ll get a truly moving result. A big thank you to the fine poet Brenda Read-Brown and the Shropshire Libraries service for a truly innovative project.”

“Poetry on Demand – what a great idea! It was so sweet to be able to welcome my nephew’s firstborn with a poem written just for him. Thank you so much for helping to make something special, even in the middle of lockdown.”

“The poem came at the right moment and captured the sentiments I felt but could not phrase. Goosebumps.”