Poetry Happening Near You

Recent poetry events

You can't keep poets down...

Poetry on Demand returned to Solihull Core Library on Valentine's Day, with poets Jonny Fluffypunk and Brenda Read-Brown penning poems on the spot for library visitors. They were kept busy, with love poems and poems about friendship! Here are some of them:

My Daddy

My Daddy takes my legs and holds me dangling,
upside down, high up - he’s really tall!
It makes me laugh. He does it ‘cause I like it.
He won’t drop me, so I’m not scared at all.

My Daddy’s bald, but I think that’s a good thing,
but he won’t share his chocolate, and that’s bad.
sometimes he shouts at football on the telly -
Man. United often drive him mad.

He dances to the Wingfields - he’s so silly.
He wakes my brother with Bird is the Word.
He cooks when Mum’s away - he gives me pasta,
with lots of cheese, all swirled around and stirred.

He’s sweaty when he cycles in the kitchen -
he ends up like a dog, all pant and puff.
I make him coffee sometimes and he likes it -
espresso, cappuccino, all that stuff.

Sometimes he’s up and goes out really early.
I wave goodbye and watch him go away.
To me, my Dad’s a special, funny giant,
and I love my Daddy more than I can say.

Brenda Read-Brown, with Anne and her daughter


For Darren and Leigh

Not to jump the gun, I thought,
but this feels promising.
My neglected hand now firmly held
as wedding bells ring out
round sun-soaked Stow in spring.

You, the last attempt before I ditched the dating app,
pitched a winning combination
of intelligence and a comfy car.
It just felt right. It’s taken us this far.
A Cornish beach. A quiet corner of a bar,
and my hand still so firmly held in yours.

Jonny Fluffypunk, with Leigh Owen


For Liz and Eddie

The battered boats bobbing
in the harbour here
look like they’ve been through
a storm or twenty in their time;

but, like me and you, somehow they
still look fit to put to sea
and face whatever the gods
might choose to throw.

Love’s survived - from Miss Beacon Bikini to five sons
(and the only girl an evil cat).
Love’s survived
the time I chose to blow
the money scrimped towards our flat.
Love’s survived,
and will survive.

Let’s raise a seaside glass to that.

Jonny Fluffypunk with Liz Woodall


To my friends

On days like today,
I want to thank you,
you people who gather me in,
who gather everybody in;
who hurtle to my side,

On days like today,
I want to give you joy.
You have wrapped me in comfort,
given me the blessing of your presence,
and the wings of fun.

On days like today,
on any day,
whether I have words
or stay silent,
people like you are
the backbone and the fingertips,
the embrace and the tickle,
the people who give everything,
and ask nothing,
so I can just be.

Brenda Read-Brown with a lady who has good friends




Return of poetry on demand...

Brenda and Spoz returned to Solihull during Libraries Week for the ever popular Poetry on Demand!  The event began with performances from both poets, including a poem written by Brenda on the platform at Whitlocks End Station followed by Spoz’s World Premiere performance of Ode to Solihull!  

The “Ode to Solihull” was written by Spoz following a previous Poetry on Loan funded event in May, when he came along on one of Heritage Librarian, Tracey Williams’ guided walks. The participants on the walk all contributed suggestions reflecting Solihull’s history, which Spoz then incorporated into the Ode to Solihull. Spoz gave Tracey permission to film the performance and to put it onto YouTube, incorporating some of the photos from our collection. The video of the new “Ode for Solihull” by Spoz is now live on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/WiFQOH9wqWw

Following the performances by Brenda and Spoz, people were literally queuing up for poems to be written!  Eight poems were written in all including a very special poem for a member of library staff who was retiring that day.

Poets in demand at the Core

Jonny Fluffypunk returned to the Core on 2nd October, this time accompanied by Brenda Read-Brown, to write poems for National Poetry Day. They were kept busy for most of the morning, writing poems on the spot for staff and library visitors - who were delighted with their unexpected treats!

Here are two of the poems:

Do you remember?

Do you remember, Melissa?
Do you remember
when we used to paint pictures?

When you used to come
to the house and the first thing
you’d go for was the paints and crayons?

Well, if I could paint you a picture now
then maybe I’d paint us
on the bridge over the brook.
It’d be after school, you on tiptoe
in your uniform, looking for
your pooh-stick to go giddying past.

Or maybe I’ll paint us
in the tea-rooms of a stately home
me with tea, you with juice and cake,
your eyes wide at the sight of a whole room
set aside  for making art.

These would be my paintings.
Time moves on
and you make your own pictures now
mix your colours, paint your world anew;
just promise me, from time to time
you’ll sit me down, and talk me through them.

Jonny Fluffypunk


The way of things

It’s the way of things.
The veg have all gone over now -
beetroot, tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans -
squashed, as you feel sometimes,
under the pressure of events,
the frost of loss,
the drought of unkindness.

But you love snow.
You understand the winter,
and you know that all things
grow again in spring.

You have the strength of nature;
you can imitate anything,
even the perennial flowers.
You can re-seed, reorganise,
renew your life.
The garden’s dormant.
Nothing has truly died;
new shoots will emerge -
you could teach, or follow your urge
to be outside.
Wild places call.
You can climb mountains,
face the sea,
get yourself free
from the weight that presses down.

Your family is around.
Rely on us;
comfort comes from our support.
Worry is just un-weeded thought.
Live through this fallow time.
Let nature take its flow;
relax, and wait for the flowers to grow.

Brenda Read- Brown



Pop-up poets at the Core

Poets Emma Purshouse and Jonny Fluffypunk returned to the Core on 26th September to write poems for National Poetry Day. They delighted library visitors and staff by writing poems on the spot. Here are two of Jonny's poems. The first is for staff, who are feeling frustrated because somebody keeps taking the blutak from posters put up in the lifts; the second - well, it speaks for itself.

Not adhering to the rules

This lift
Is the scene of a crime a light-fingered larceny
Done in the time
It takes to go up one floor
An uncaught naughtiness
Behind closed doors.
Belts are tight. Times are tough
Someone’s getting nicky
With our bits of sticky stuff
Our posters not hanging
As straight as they could
Our librarians not smiling
As broad as they should
And yes, we see the beauty
In the daftness of it all
But beauty won’t adhere
To an elevator wall
And sooner or later
Something must fall
And let’s hope it’s just a poster.

Jonny Fluffypunk 



It’s the mists and mellow fruitfulness, indeed
And the way the damp hangs on the grass
And turns each spider web into a chandelier
And the way the leaves crisp up
And harden into gold
As if nature itself were throwing a ball
To mark the end of summer
A feast of blackberries and home-baked apples
Laid on to welcome home wanderers
Time to chinwag on the doorsteps in the low sun
Time to plump up the cushions, get the sofa
Fit for hibernation
The turning point. The drizzled stillness
That glows so brief
Between August hot adventure
And the first advent of Christmas

Jonny Fluffypunk  

Chocolate rappers

Early in February, Birmingham poet Spoz visited the Core to work with a group of people facing various disabilities, from two adult care centres. Nickie THomas, Core librarian, said, After entertaining everyone with some of his poems and giving a copy of his book to each centre, each group composed RAP poems about chocolate, which, as Spoz said, made everyone ‘Chocolate Rappers’! Everyone really enjoyed the session; the Co-ordinator of one of the care cantres commented: They all came back and were very impressed with the session, the support workers want him to come here so others can appreciate it.  We have also enjoyed an afternoon of poetry from his book. Thank you this was great for everyone.

And here are the chocolate raps:

Chocolate RAP

I like chocolate when it’s hot
Bubbling away in a chocolate pot
Whisper, Flake, M&Ms are lush
They give me a sugar rush
I like chocolate, sweet and creamy
It makes me feel nice and dreamy
Galaxy, Milky Way and Mars
Send my senses to the stars
Chocolate, chocolate so delicious
It’s a shame it’s not nutritious!

Chocolate Rap

Give me some chocolate and make it snappy
Eating chocolate makes me happy
Chocolate, chocolate cold or hot
Eat too much and your teeth will rot
I love Galaxy, I love Mars
I can’t eat one; I’ll have a few bars
Chocolate is sweet, chocolate is silky
Mix it up and it gets milky
I love to eat a walnut whip
Eat too much and it makes you sick!



It was all go in Solihull on 20th and 21st May. Sara-Jane Arbury came to The Core library as part of the activities for the launch of The Core in Solihull. She had a very productive and creative day asking customers and visitors to write Haiku about their impressions of The Core, a multi-agency building which also incorporates the Library. 38 haiku were created on the day another 12 since!  "The 50 haiku will all become part of The Core Renga which we intend to print onto triangles of bunting and display in The Core Library. We also have a Book Bench for The Core as part of The Big Read and 2 of the Haiku from the Renga have been included on it," says Nickie Thomas, Core Library Manager.

As if that wasn't enough, Fergus McGonigal popped up to offer poems on demand - he was so much in demand that he was turning people away.

Here is one of Fergus' poems:

A Poem for Chris (from Nickie and all of your friends)


Let the words be softly spoken,
   When the heart has had enough,
The strength you have cannot be broken,
   If you are made of sterner stuff.
And that is how we see you now,
With all the hope life will allow.

A precious thing you ought to know
  A cheering thought for you to hear,
Despite the things which brought you woe,
   To us, you still seem full of cheer.
Courageous thoughts may sometimes hide:
They never seem to leave your side.

The future is a brighter place,
   Just close your eyes and you will see,
Its quiet calm, its warm embrace,
  And all the things that you will be.
And think on this, if e’er you suffer:
What doesn’t beat you, makes you tougher.

Fergus McGonigal

Poetry on Demand at the Core Library, May 2016

And here are a few of the haiku making up the renga:

Hammer, drill and saw
Construction is now complete
The result is “Cor!”

The Core has opened
Purple is the new black here
Where hearts and minds soar

Purple paradise
Just hidden behind Touchwood
Enter and enjoy

Behind the front door
A paper world to explore
Welcome to The Core!

To search for a book
In such a joyful setting
What a privilege!

People of Solihull, with Sara-Jane Arbury

Popping up in Shirley

They really like their love poems in Solihull! This year, Poetry on Loan sent Jonny Fluffypunk to write instant poems in Shirley Library. The librarian there commented, "The activity was a huge success! A lot of people showed an interest in what was going on, but did not have the time to stay and chat to Jonny - he hardly had a moment to himself. Two members of the library poetry group were very interested in his work and spent a long time talking to him. I have been asked when he can visit again. Perhaps next time we will allocate time slots so that more people can benefit from the experience."


More pop-up poetry

Poets Emma Purshouse and Jonny Fluffypunk went down so well with pop-up poetry last November that they were invited back to write love poems just before Valentine's Day - Poems from the heart. Nickie Thomas describes it all: As Valentine’s Day was only a few days away, the theme was love. People requested poems to give to their partners and spouses as expected but also for their children and grandchildren, both young and grown.  At one point during a busy morning of poetry writing,  a class of 30 children from a local school (who had been on a pizza making outing) ventured into the library whilst waiting for a coach to take them back to school and were treated to an impromptu poem about pizza which Jonny performed for them whilst they sat clutching boxes of warm pizza in their arms!  The children joined in by shouting ‘pizza’ at the end of each line!

And here is that love poem to pizza:

Pizza of my Dreams

With pepperoni big as an arena
With pineapples as yellow as the sun with sweet corn as sweet as all the sugar cane on earth
With sausages as skinny as sticks
With peppers as red as valentine roses, as green as
Summer grass, as orange as an orange
With mozzarella like an elastic band
With chicken so fresh it’s still clucking
With mushrooms plain as paper
With olives as salty sour as the sea
With chocolate and rainbow sprinkles
With ice cream and chocolate sauce
With caramel pouring like a fountain
With gummy bears dancing like Diversity
With living apricots running round a crust
Stuffed with white chocolate and unicorns
Miss Hunt bites in
And it explodes like a giant rainbow
Spreading pizza love
Jonny Fluffypunk

Pop-up poetry

Poets Emma Purshouse and Jonny Fluffypunk created poems on the spot, tailor-made for people at Solihull Central Library on November 5th. Their brief was to be cheerful! Nickie Thomas, of Solihull Libraries, said, "It was a great day - it really energised me. I’d forgotten how good doing rewarding stuff like this makes you feel. I felt really uplifted!  I can’t wait to do it again!" And they will be doing it again, on February 11th, with love poems all ready for Valentine's Day. Here is the poem Jonny and Emma wrote specially for a longstanding member of the Listeners’ Circle who is going to be 100 years old on 28th November:

Poem for Millicent

The leaves are falling, soon to rustle their applause
The bonfires burn, their smoky signals sent
And yes, there will be fireworks-
The cracks and bangs, the sky lit up
By rocket trails and Catherine wheels.

In Solihull there will be dancing;
They’ll be singing down the length of Station Road.
The town brass bands are practicing their fanfares;
In every pub the glasses lift and clink a toast,
Three cheers! Huzzah! Hooray! Hurrah!
It’s for Millicent they shout
One Hundred Years. A Century. Not out.

Emma Purshouse & Jonny Fluffypunk

5th November 2014


Poetry and dance

On February 19th, poet Jane Seabourne joined dance tutor Faye Peach and members of Solihull's Stepping Out group for a poetry and dance workshop. Jane stayed with the group during their normal dance session, and afterwards worked with them to write a poem about how they felt about dancing. Faye and the group created a dance based on the poem, which was performed to the accompaniment of Jane reading the poem. 

The group members were surprised at how much they enjoyed it all. Here are some of their comments:

‘I love dance and it makes me feel so happy and to put it into a poem was good.  Perhaps add music too as dance is nothing without music.’

‘A joy in the spontaneous natural rhythm born from words’

‘What a very unusually interesting different aspect of words and music. i.e. poetry and dance so intermingled so cleverly.  Thanks to all involved, thoroughly enjoyed it, please repeat!!’

‘I was unsure what to expect however I have thoroughly enjoyed fusing dance with poetry! Thank you for this opportunity, I feel very inspired.’

‘A very different approach to dance and very enjoyable, thank you.’

‘I have had a wonderful hour after Stepping Out as I was unsure about poetry and dance.  Well done and hope there are more to come.’

Nickie Thomas, librarian at Solihull, watched the performance, with Aimee Green (Community Education and Outreach Manager). She said, "We were absolutely amazed at how they had managed to write a poem and choreograph a dance in an hour!  The participants were visibly inspired by the session."

And here's the poem written by the group. If only we had a film of the performance!

We are a flock of brightly coloured birds,
Stepping out today,
Dancing while we’re able,
Dancing while we can,
With our sparkly jewellery,
With our sparkly eyes.

We are a sea of hula-hula waves,
Stepping out today,
Dancing our life-long dreams,
Dancing till we lose ourselves,
Dancing till we find ourselves,
With our soft shoes shooshing
Across the wooden floor.

There’s a slow build-up of energy,
Stepping out today,
We’d better tell the National Grid
We could light up Solihull
From the live wires in this room
As we put movement to the beat
On this winter’s afternoon.


Funny Women
The trio of poets, Jane Seabourne, Win Saha, Emma Purshouse from Offa’s Press entertained an audience of 35 people with their funny poetry at Solihull Central Library on 14 November 2012.

12 poets took part in Solihull Poetry Slam, compered by Marcus Moore & Sara-Jane Arbury, as part of the Solihull Comedy Festival at Solihull Arts Complex on 12 April 2013 whilst audience members took part in a Quirky Quick Quip Quiz between slam heats!

Spontaneity Day
On 25th September, Sara-Jane Arbury and Marcus Moore performed poetry spontaneously throughout the day in the Touchwood Shopping Centre and the Cafe Bar at the Arts Centre Complex as part of Solihull Festival.