Sixth Form Poetry Club

During my second year on the ELCE course I volunteered to run an already established weekly poetry group with The Domino Project in Bristol, a charity supported by the university to help people get their lives back on track following alcohol or drug abuse.

I found it remarkable the profound impact that reading and discussing poetry can have on a person’s self-worth and this has shaped my own community engagement project. 

My place of work seemed like the most convenient location for my project, but, given that I work in a grammar school where the students are already well-read (and arguably over-worked), I was worried that a poetry group might not appeal.  However, I was reassured that the Community Engagement (CE) module is a study of our experiences (and possibly repeat attempts) setting up reading groups – the planning, approach and outcomes – rather than a measure of how ‘successful’ they are.  So, I advertised my Poetry Society to sixth formers; a small group responded and we have been meeting every week for the last six months.  I also run Performance Poetry sessions to younger students, bringing a fun, more physical element to poetry.  During the school’s Reading Week, I organised a Poetry Café event, where staff and students signed up to perform poetry of their own choosing.  A mountain of homemade cake was consumed and everyone had a great time enjoying a diverse programme of poetry and spoken word.   We have been able to enjoy poetry in the way the poets intended – focussing on our feelings, rather correct poetic terms, or ‘answers’.  I am certain that reading and discussing poetry has given us new perspectives on life, and we have become more confident as a result.

Although I was initially apprehensive about the CE element of the ELCE course, once I started the course it felt like a natural progression to lead a reading group of my own, and it has proved to be a hugely rewarding and truly life-changing for me.  I am proud that my project has had such a positive impact on my community, and am grateful for the expertise, reassurance and encouragement of my tutors at the University of Bristol, which has helped to make it possible.

Headshot of woman with white hair and glasses
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