Poetry Happening Near You

Recent poetry events - Wolverhampton

Online with the Laureate

At the beginning of October, Wolverhampton's Poet Laureate, Emma Purshouse, ran an online workshop for Libraries Week and National Poetry day. Emma is always a draw, and this event attracted a participant from Korea! Everyone had a chance to write something and share their words, and together they wrote a group poem. You can hear Emma reading it here, and below is the text.

Where we found the words…

I found silver dogs and silver fish, with Bobby Brewster
in the wood-panelled world of Bantock House.
I found the Cat in the Hat at the Doctors
waiting on the waiting room table.
I found Elidor, Henry Treece and Aesop’s Fables
in Mrs Elliot’s chalk and dust mote class.

I found ballads when my mum stopped dusting
and started on Patrick Spens.
I found parody when Mr Greaves set us loose on the anthology
and I realized a fairground ride could launch the Sputnik’s flight.

I found Father William in my mother’s old book - I have it still.
I found Winnie the Pooh and Willard Price in the sun-soaked
book-walled corner of Netherton library, my sanctuary.
I found The Moon in my mother’s memories.
I found the magic of The Land of Counterpane.

I found Little Women, my first school Christmas
when big girls did a play about their Christmas.
I found the Children of the New Forest in a classroom
but have lost the memory of the teacher who read it aloud.
I found Peter Pan in my Christmas pillow case at four,
read it at six – I have it still.

I found The Moon in a glass on my bedroom table so drank it.
I dreamt til I woke I was faraway folk.

I found death in a classroom with Mrs.Smith
in the middle of final exams and the uncertainty of the future.

I haven't found a good happy ending in Disney, or in poetry
but I found fairies in Shakespeare, so there must be hope.

Group poem created by Emma Purshouse and workshop participants Paul Francis, Sandra Robinson, Lorraine Boyce, Nicola Humphries, and Lizzie Chan.  This was part of the Poetry On Loan session for Wolverhampton Libraries which took place on 6th October 2021 for Libraries Week/National Poetry Day.


Punjabi Women's Writing Group

A year ago, local poet Kuli Kohli formed the Punjabi Women's Writing Group, and on 24th July, they celebrated with an event in Wolverhampton Central Library, supported by Wolverhampton Libraries and Poetry on Loan. Poems covering many aspects of everyday life were heard by a small but appreciative audience.

The group meets on the last Thursday of every month. If you'd like more information, please contact Kuli Kohli on kuli.kohli@hotmail.co.uk


Popping up in Wolverhampton

Poets have been popping up a lot recently in Wolverhampton library, in celebration of National Libraries' Week. Kurly McGeachie ran a session for young people, followed by Jasmine Gardosi with young adults. Finally, Jane Seabourne worked with all sorts of people at the library, and used their comments to come up with the following crowd-sourced poem:

Tell Us What You Think
(request on comments box on the reception desk of Central Library)

Thank you for knowing what we like to read,
for understanding that we often need
somewhere warm and calm to sit and think
or sometimes just to sit.
And if, from time to time, we use language you think unfit
for anyone to hear inside a library –
we apologise
and say: thank you.

Thank you for your patience when
we book computers then
forget our passwords, lose the plot,
and can’t log on
or when we go and buy our books on Amazon –
forgive us,

and we thank you
for biographies and atlases and poetry
and lending them to us for free,
for Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer
we say:  thank you.

When we struggle to express ourselves
and muddle up your tidy shelves
we are sorry, and say: thank you.

Thank you for riding storms of budget cuts
for always standing up for us
and though it doesn’t always show
we, your Public, want it put on record that we love you
and each of us, in our own way, say: thank you, Library, thank you.

Jane Seabourne
National Libraries’ Week, October, 2017


National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day in Central Library Wolverhampton was busy in spite of the cold, wet February day. Downstairs, the wonderful Kurly McGeachie showed the kids and young writers how to rap, upstairs Jeff Phelps and Marion Cockin led a PaperVerse workshop and all over the library Jane Seabourne was popping up as a poet surprising people by asking them about their choice of reading. The library staff were enthusiastic and kept us going with cups of coffee. By the end of the day, raps were being rapped, ten writers went home with hand-made booklets containing their own poems and the library had its own crowd-sourced poem:


Crowd-sourced poem written on Libraries’ Day February 6th 2016

On Libraries’ Day, 2015, when borrowers at Central Library were asked what they like about the library, they all said, ‘we love the books.’ This year, they were asked what books they liked and why.

I like to keep mentally active,
Read something new everyday
To exercise my little grey cells
As Hercule Poirot might say.

My Mum’s in West Park Hospital
And now she’s feeling better,
I’m choosing something for her to read,
Her favourite’s Georgette Heyer.

Even if you never read poems
Liz Berry will change your mind
She writes about people like us,
I’d say she’s a really good find.

I’m bringing back 59 Seconds.
Would I recommend it? A definite ‘yes’ –
It tells you to look for the positive
And helps you eliminate stress.

I turned seventy-seven last August
And wonders will never cease
After two months, three days and ten minutes
I’ve just finished War and Peace.

I read anything by James Patterson
His novels are terrific
I like his plots and characters
And you could say that he’s prolific.

I love reading cook books
I like Mary Berry most
I drool over the photographs
When I’m eating beans on toast.

I love Jamie Oliver
He’s my kind of a dish
I read his Naked Chef in bed
It tasted quite delish.

I know I’m getting older
And my eyesight’s not sublime
But my detection rate is still quite high
Thanks to Large Print Crime.

I like my Mills and Boons romance
And I don’t mind a bit of sex
But I must have a page-turner
To know what’s coming next.

My friend recommended a book that she read –
And she’s a real book lover –
She can’t remember the title
But she thinks that it has a blue cover.

Jane Seabourne


2014 - a busy year for poetry in Wolverhampton

Poetry on Loan lost its main contact in Wolverhampton early in 2014, so things got off to a bit of a slow start. But our volunteer, Jane Seabourne, soon got poetry on its way.

In MayEmma Purshouse gave a performance workshop for a group in Bilston who were preparing to perform their work - some of them for the first time. Emma's help was invaluable.

Also in MayFunny Women - Emma Purshouse, Win Saha and Jane Seabourne - appeared in Bilston library, and definitely lived up to their stage name. They delighted and entertained the audience with their rich blend of poems and humour, full of wit, charm, rhymes, and wisdom that tickled your funny bone and bought a smile to your face. These clever women of poetry had the audience laughing out loud. But it wasn't all about making people laugh. During the question time, members of the audience asked advice on:

  • The benefits of joining a writers group
  • Finding an audience that would listen to new poetry compositions and critique it.
  • How to get their poems published.

"Performances like these can spark a wave of interest for those people that want to learn and share ideas about poets and poetry writing, whether modern or classic. Funny Women are a positive role model of encouragement to those groups or individuals that want to develop their poetry reading, writing and performance style."


In JuneMichael Thomas gave a reading for the Poetry Readers' Group. Michael was brought up locally in Coseley and read from a collection  based on memories of this time. He talked about the process of writing which was particularly appreciated by the group, many of whom are also writers. His warmth and humour went down well with the group as did the discussion about history and memoir. Michael brought copies of his book so readers could follow the text – and donated them at the end – that went down very well!

There were a number of positive comments at the end of the session – one member said she was going home to look at her own memory-based poems to re-read them.

In November, Wolverhampton ventured into cross-artform working, with a printmaking and poetry workshop run by Linda Nevill and Jane Seabourne.

The final event of the year was in Central library in December - a performance by poets from Offa's Press, with books included in the Poetry on Loan recommended book selection, Here, there and everywhere. The reading went well and was well-received. The timing was good, people were already in town either shopping or at work. Audience members appreciated a break from Christmas preparations (they said). There was time for audience members to talk to each other and the poets; mince-pies were involved. It was a sociable affair with four poets reading a variety of poems – ranging from humorous and light-hearted to serious.