A little Christmas poem…
© poem: Caroline Carver © card: poetry p f read the poem
It’s lovely to see The Twelve Days of Christmas theme coming up on The Poetry Shed… It brings to mind (well, mine anyway!) that the hit count goes up tremendously at the poetry p f online poet showcase – www.poetrypf.co.uk – twice a year: once on the run-up to Christmas and again (an even higher hike in the counts) in the few days before St Valentine’s Day. It’s good to know that, despite all the accusations of it, poetry these days is most definitely not ‘just for poets’.
Being accessible to everyone with a will to look for poetry is at the heart of the poetry p f aim. The site was created as an open invitation (hence no ‘register and log-in’ to access the site or print-restrictive constructions on it) to all-comers to engage with poets and their work – to combat the invisibility of poets and to debunk the ideas that poetry is an elitist pursuit and that poets are, most likely, very strange, unapproachable creatures, possibly not even really of this world at all…
The idea for a showcase site came out of a conversation with Katherine Gallagher in 2004. There was a poet who I knew had a reading coming up that I wanted to go to, and there was a poet who I knew had a new collection out that I wanted to buy. Could I find them? No, I could not. Did Katherine – who knew pretty much everything! – know where to find the information in relation to these two particular poets? Did she know how I could contact them to ask them for information? No, despite knowing both poets, she did not. If people can’t find us when they look for us, if we’re invisible and uncontactable, then surely we must do something about it, mustn’t we?
So the welcome mat is out and 300+ poets have registered with poetry p f, sent in their biographical note, their photo (‘put a face to the name’), a contact-me point, details of their collections, and their 5 sample poems so that anyone who wants to can take a look at them.
A year after the site was launched (it went live in August 2005) I decided on an ‘outreach’ project (if we must use the jargon), thinking that Christmas, New Year and other cards, given that they’re sent with a generous spirit and well-wishing intent, might be a way of getting poetry into the hands of many people who wouldn’t normally come across a poem at all. I invited the members to send me Christmas and New Year poems and invited (commissioned in some cases) artwork to go with those selected, and had them professionally produced for issue as a set: ‘12 poems, 12 poets’. Since then the range has been expanded to over 50 designs, some for specific occasions and some suitable for sending at any time.
© poem: Mimi Khalvati © card: poetry p f read the poem
Producing the ’12 poems, 12 poets’ set was a task and a half (and a significant learning curve!) but it was also a truly enjoyable experience. One of my favourite images in the memory store from it is that of a University Professor hard at work with tinsel, glass gems and glue, scissors and silver and gold card, because the commissioned images for her poem just weren’t right… Thank you, Maggie Butt, for that wonderful debunk of what the intellectually accomplished are expected to get up to in their free time…
Anne Stewart, poetry p f
The full range of cards can be viewed and read at the poetry p f online shop (and, for Christmas & New Year cards, just start typing Christmas in the dynamic filter near the top). The ’12 poems, 12 poets’ set, currently discounted to £5 (UK; £6 ROW), features poems by Alice Beer, Maggie Butt, Caroline Carver, Stella Davis, Hilary Elfick, Wendy French, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Mimi Khalvati, Carole Satyamurti, Maggie Sawkins, Anne Stewart and Rik Wilkinson.
Anne Stewart lives in Kent and works as a freelance provider of services to poets and poetry organisations. Her first collection, The Janus Hour, was published by Oversteps Books in 2010 and a bi-lingual collection (English/Romanian), Only Here till Friday, was published by Bibliotecha Universalis (Bucharest) in 2015. She has won the Bridport Prize (2008) and Poetry on the Lake’s ‘Silver Wyvern’ (Italy, 2014).