The Guardian Follows Up With Tales of Real-Life Poetry Towns
What do UK towns Weymouth, Lancaster, Barnard Castle, Ely, Downpatrick, St Andrews and Brecon have in common? All have been defined as “Beacon Towns,” or towns that have “‘found ways to connect with a wide range of people and achieve a high quality in engaging, performing and exploring poetry.’” In a follow up to their article on poetry towns, The Guardian reports that Winning Words, a new national poetry project in England, is supporting the celebration of verse in each of these communities. As mentioned in our previous post, making sure everyone is included—young or old, poetry fanatic or not—is vital to the creation of a “poetry town.”
Beacon Towns are ambitious poetry projects, but it's this focus on inclusion, people and community that rings the message so true. The beauty of a Beacon Town (a poetry town) is that there's no authority, hierarchy or snobbery around poetry – it's about opening up the channels of communication and getting everyone's hands dirty.
Open workshops and readings have taken place already in the towns and there's more to follow, which can only mean good things for connecting with hard-to-reach audiences, people who have never experienced poetry before and those who have, but may not be social or active enough to get involved.
It's the voices you can't hear which are just as important, says Cathey [Morgan, education and outreach officer at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon]: "We haven't forgotten older people who reside in homes, and schoolchildren...will be visiting residential homes to read their poetry to the residents, as all too often this section of the community is forgotten about."
More on Beacon Towns, Winning Words, and how to incorporate poetry into your community here.