Poetry Happening Near You

It's all go in Staffordshire

Matt Windle at Orme Academy, September 2021

The children and the staff at The Orme Academy, Wolstanton, were delighted to welcome Matt Windle to their school to celebrate the launch of their new wonderful school library. Matt gave an inspirational talk on poetry as a career opportunity focussing on his past and encouraging the children to follow their dreams. They were stunned to hear that Matt is also a boxer! He performed some of his fun poetry and encouraged the children to think about rhyming words and to consider the different poetry forms including nonsense rhymes which the children found hilarious. It was a huge success - Matt never fails to deliver. 


Mal Dewhirst with Betley Reading Group

Betley Reading Group had a wonderful time with poet Mal Dewhirst, discovering poetry and poets and then writing a group poem based upon what they could see around them. This is the fabulous result:

View from Newcastle Under Lyme Library.

Insulated here from the damp, wet rain,
in a cosy corner of the bright new library,
behind etched grass and backward words
that filter the winter world
of windblown branches shivering through silver skies
and palm trees blowing out of place against the edge of dark.
People walking in the fading light
wrapped up against the wintery air,
leaving twenty empty park benches, too wet to sit on,
lonely benches await the spring's new birth.
Rippling waves of green,
clipped edges of corporation borders,
cruel hard lines of winter, round empty beds,
except for the wallflowers ready and waiting
for the dance of spring.
While Arnold Machin stands and spoons his drinks,
readers are writing letters, sending
new purposes clothed in old bricks.

Collaborative Poem by the members of the Betley Readers Group.
Edited by Mal Dewhirst.



Jane Seabourne leads Codsall Writers

Codsall Writers enjoyed a workshop with Jane Seabourne for National Poetry Day. They focused on The Anniversary by John Donne.  By the end of the session they had written their own Anniversary poem, which will be displayed in Codsall Library at the end of the month.

A 5* rating was given by all.

Circus poetry comes to town

It was great fun having Amy Rainbow visiting us at Newcastle library on the 1st May to help us celebrate Staffordshire Day and also help us at Newcastle to celebrate our circus heritage. I was amazed to discover that Amy was not only a professional poet, but she is also a circus performer! Ideal choice for our circus themed adult and children’s workshops. Both groups thoroughly enjoyed the experience and produced some wonderful poetry based upon their recollections and ideas of the circus.

Thank you Amy and thank you Poetry on Loan

Terry Heath – Newcastle-under-Lyme library


Perton Library renga

Perton Library compiled a Renga to celebrate National Poetry Day 2017. Customers were invited to write a haiku (a short three-line poem) relating to the library on the paper provided, and to add it to our collaborative Renga. The haiku could have been anything connected to the library- the physical place, the way it makes you feel, what it means to you to be able to visit the library or a particular experience you have had at the library. Customers were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild! The fantastic result is below:

Perton Library Renga

Sun glides through the windows
Illumines the words on pages;
Leaves ready to grow

Brightness of words on paper
Seeds about to germinate

At Perton Library
Matthew said “Write me an ode”;
I wrote this instead.

I come here to code.
Home Ed Club once a fortnight
I love this library!

This place full of words
Forest of ideas grow
Doors to other worlds

When all is quiet
The books talk to each other;
They whisper secrets.

Open and enter
Here the author transports you

Days spent between books
I wanted library love
But you never came

I know of a man
In the library named Matt
Here is my haiku

The room is silent
Stories that just must be told
Read us, the books cry…

Hectic day again
But stress is my food and drink
Honey, time for sleep.

Now the lights turn off
Pages rustle in the wind.
Goodbye, library.


Staffordshire poetry collection - the launch event

Poetry fans from across Staffordshire gathered for a celebration event for the launch of the county’s first poetry collection

The Staffordshire Poetry Collection includes 50 unique poems written by local people and was officially launched at Stafford library as part of National Poetry Day on 28 September.

During the evening people got to hear readings of the poems, welcome the new Young Poet Laureate Rebecca Lockwood and the new Staffordshire Poet laureate Emily Rose Galvin announced on the night.

The collection, chosen from over 140 entries, form a diverse and unique picture of Staffordshire in words.  From Burton to Brewood, and Keele to Kinver, people’s favourite places to visit, memories and thoughts are amongst the themes.

Gill Heath, Library Chief at Staffordshire county council said: “We’re incredibly excited about our first ever Staffordshire Poetry collection and I would like to thank everyone who submitted a poem. “Not only will the collection help promote our wonderful county, but it’s a great way of boosting a wider appreciation of poetry and creative writing too.  After all, we’re Staffordshire, the creative county and the collection gives us a unique blend of poems as diverse as the county itself.”

Outgoing Staffordshire Poet Laureate, Bert Flitcroft who worked with Staffordshire County Council’s library and arts service to pull the collection together said: “'I'm absolutely delighted with the collection, which I feel illustrates the diverse nature of our County and proves that poetry is alive and kicking in Staffordshire. “I do hope that the poems reach out to as many people as possible and I’m delighted that they are all now online with an audio option enabling everyone to be able to read, listen and explore them.”

A selection of the poems inspired by Stafford and the surrounding areas are currently on display in Stafford Library. Funded by Stafford District Arts Council, local artist Dawn Jutton produced photographs in response to some of the locally themed poems which complement the collection on display.

The Staffordshire Poetry Collection can be viewed at www.staffordshirepoetlaureate.wordpress.com/staffordshirepoetrycollection.


Staffordshire poetry collection

Staffordshire Library and Arts Service has worked closely with Bert Flitcroft to create a Staffordshire Poetry Collection. The idea is to help create a cultural identity for Staffordshire by creating a picture of the county in words and art. The poems come from whole range of different people from former poet laureates to ordinary people all over the county.

The full collection of 50 poems are available to read and download from our website: 



Fun with Fergus

The Reminiscence Group at Newcastle library had a great time when Fergus McGonigal joined them for a fun packed entertaining session of his own poetry on the 17th Jan 2017. The room echoed with laughter as Fergus energetically recited some incredibly humorous poems and anecdotes which all encouraged the group to reflect upon subjects such as children, grandchildren and their weight! Fergus pitched it perfectly and was immediately able to engage with the whole audience. Two members of the group specifically referred to wanting to investigate more poetry as a result. Thank you Fergus!’ - from Terry Heath, librarian.

Christmas collaboration at Clayton library

On the 13th Dec 2016 we were delighted to welcome Emma Purshouse to Clayton library as part of a Christmas collaboration which also included a festive reminiscence event. Emma was able to gather ideas and thoughts from people’s recollections in the earlier reminiscence event and was able to ‘crowd source’ a poem from the comments to produce a fantastic Xmas themed poem which she subsequently shared with the audience members.

The whole event was fabulous and all the audience members were thrilled with the concept and how cleverly Emma was able to piece together the individual comments. One lady said it will encourage her to read more poetry over Xmas and another lady commented on how clever Emma was to compile a poem from people’s recollections.

It certainly got the audience talking and thinking about poetry. A great day. 

Terry Heath, the librarian, added: Sorry I forgot to take photos of the event! I was enjoying it too much :-)

Pop-up poetry in Stafford library

Jonny Fluffypunk spent a happy afternoon in Stafford library on 26th January. Jonny says, "We managed a gig, a workshop to make a group poem AND mini Poetry on Demand all in 2 hours!"

Here's the poem Jonny wrote, using contributions from many visitors to the library:

The Library

It is like going into a church.
A sanctuary.

As a child
the library moved next door
and that was a wonderful feeling;

It's free and it's warm
And it is my place.

It's quiet and the noises
in my head can escape

Reading is the only hobby that is free
When I want a book I come and have a look

Reading a book is a gateway
to other people's lives

Reading a book is like
riding on a wave…

By Stafford Library Users, 26th January 2016


Poetry for a visually-impaired painting group

On 13th October, 2015, Mandy Ross ran a poetry workshop for a painting group for visually-impaired people in Staffordshire. Jean Glavey reports:

The session involved a group who meet regularly at the library, together with three volunteers and a member of staff to help with scribing; everyone worked  in pairs. They looked at communication and using visual arts/poetry/braille to convey meaning using the theme of ‘Come with me’.

Using tools used for painting and drawing such as a sponge, paint brush, acrylic paint as a starting point and thinking about ideas around the sounds they could hear at dusk each pair came up with some wonderful ideas, imagery and poetry.

The session was extremely successful – and the poems produced will form the basis of a display which I hope will include some of the poems translated into braille. I also hope that we can use the poems and some of their art work for a display.

Here is one of the poems:

Memories of a Pencil

I was taken from the packet
to write a beautiful song
to write down all the melodies,
the notes, the tunes and the chords.

I remember the breeze, the sun, the rain
and the snow covering once when
I was alive and growing tall.

The melodies I think of are the sounds
of the wind rustling through my leaves .

The tunes I remember are the
early morning song of the birds
nestling in their nests.

My insides quiver like the ground
that they were dug from,
beneath my earthly roots.
Together we write a song of life, of death,
of unity, of joy, of love
but remaining forever in our song.

Julie Bailey




Pop-up poetry with Spoz and Emma Purshouse

Spoz's  session took place as part of our regular monthly New Editions coffee morning when we display new stock and encourage people to browse over a cup of coffee. Spoz sat with participants round a coffee table and chatted to them and with them created a poem about Tamworth. Some people came and went – others stayed and chatted and listened to Spoz reciting his poetry. It was a lovely relaxed session. Greatly enjoyed by those who took part – and the whole thing had a lovely feel to it.

Comments included – Very interesting and entertaining; great morning, “brill”; very enjoyable; lovely man, wonderful poet, very entertaining.

Here's the group poem:


We're the fat capital of the Midlands, they say -
We love a good pasty from Greggs.
we could do with losing a pound or two,
If we knew how to use our legs.

Mothers are young. We've got kids pushing kids,
Some of them barely out of school.
Growing up quicker than perhaps they should,
With a burger in hand, looking 'cool'.

Dodging mobility scooters,
Down the paths of Royal George Street,
You may end up with the 'Tamworth limp',
If you don't keep an eye on your feet.

Make your way to the miracle library,
Where there's more than a book on a shelf.
Based on the left behind sticks and zimmers,
That place can transform your health!

Bucket lists, post-it notes, Wetherspoon's pubs,
Where the Tame and the Anker meet,
Looking down from the castle - the capital of Mercia -
Making wishes from the wet wishing seat.

Double helix staircases in St. Edither's church,
A monument to pre-Raphaelite glass;
The origins of the P.C.s as the Peelers were here,
To give a kick to the criminal... bottom.

So raise a cheer for our colourful heritage,
This jewel in the Staffordshire crown.
Our flower is blooming marvellous,
In our beautiful Tamworth town!

By Giovanni 'Spoz' Esposito and a cast of thousands from Tamworth library

Emma Purshouse worked with people in Cannock library. Everyone contributed a line for their Cannock poem - and here it is:

Cannock is…

Cannock is...
a visit to the library,
the best market around,
a pint in the Royal Oak
(must be the oldest pub in town).

Cannock is…
where I’m happiest
walking dogs on the chase.
It’s friendly obliging people,
a very pleasant place

Cannock is…
A variety of shops,
fun, a working life,
a cup of tea at Taylors,
it’s where I met the wife.

Cannock is…
a wedding at the registry office
43 years ago,
a visit to Aunty Elsie’s,
a film at the Danilo,

Cannock is…
comfortable Chadsmoor,
Platt Street, Ash Grove,
a bus ride away
down the Pye Green Road

Cannock is
a great place to come back to
no matter where you roam.
Cannock’s a warm welcome.
Cannock is our home.



Poetry workshops

Mal Dewhirst, who is about to retire as Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate, has been running workshops based on things of interest in the nearby area. In Lichfield Library, the workshop explored some of the artefacts held in the library. Two workshops in Tamworth library, celebrated Tamworth’s 1100 year anniversary, and involved exploring the town through maps, books and a walking tour.

Young Poet Laureate

This year, the city council and county council have joined forces to recruit a new city and county-wide Young Poet Laureate, who will hold the post for a year.

The prestigious competition aimed to showcase the excellent skills of 14-18-year-olds across the two areas. Natalie Cotterill was chosen from a strong field, and will read some poems at an event in Baswich Library on 3rd October.