Don’t be afraid – it’s only Poetry

I’m a little bit scared of poetry. There, I’ve said it. I don’t always “get it” and it makes me feel foolish. It’s like a club I don’t belong to, a party to which I am not invited –  it’s as though everyone else understands but I don’t. I’m not alone. A recent BBC Womans’ Hour programme highlighted a survey that found that 1 in 6 women is frightened of poetry. They find it purposefully obscure. So, not everyone “gets it” after all.

But there is something about poetry I like. If I relax, just read or listen – I find I can enjoy the sounds, the shape of the words, the rhythmns and the images conjured from the page. Who says I have to understand it all.

So it was with a little trepidation and a bit of bravado that I stepped forward and volunteered to take on the role of Project Manager for the Walthamstow Poetry Trail – part of the E17 Art Trail.

But it’s been a delight – I stuck my neck out on Twitter and Facebook, moseyed on down to the meeting of Forest Poets at Ye Olde Rose & Crown and sent out an appeal via the Waltham Forest Arts Club. I was looking for poets and artists to collaborate to produce poems and illustrations to go on display in the estate agents windows in Hoe Street. I proposed that, given the displays would appear in estate agents’ windows, we celebrate the themes of “Home” and “Community” through words and images.

I was overwhelmed. Little did I know how many poets and poetry fans were living, working and just hanging out in wonderful Walthamstow. I had so many poems, and not enough window space. But it’s worked out. From next Thursday evening 1 September and throughout the E17 Art Trail (2 – 11 September) there’ll be poems from poets young and old, published and beginner, confident and tentative on display in the windows of estate agents along Hoe Street as well as Walthamstow Library. Many poems will be illustrated by artists inspired by the images suggested by the words – the many and diverse interpretations of the themes of “Home” and “Community”.

And there’ll even be a poem by me. I’m not a poet. I probably never will be. But, inspired by the creativity, enthusiasm and energy of the schoolchildren who have written poems especially for this Poetry Trail, I decided not to feel intimidated. What’s there to be frightened of ?

So thank you to everyone who’s written a poem, to all the artists and photographers who have created images, to Matt at Paekakiriki Press who has created the anthology and display prints, the estate agents who have given the trail a home and to all the special people of Walthamstow who make the E17 Art Trail such a wonderful, diverse, creative and exciting community festival to enjoy each year. I am proud to be part of it.

For more information about the Walthamstow Poetry Trail and the E17 Art Trail visit

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology of the poems and illustrations on the Walthamstow Poetry Trail then copies are on sale from 2 September at Vestry House Museum, E17 Art House, Paekakiriki Press and Penny Fielding Beautiful Interiors.


2 thoughts on “Don’t be afraid – it’s only Poetry

  1. I wrote a poem once – published on page 69 of a book – you must take a look… most of it ‘borrowed’ from Mr Kipling… who wrote exceedingly good poems… and then most of the books thrown in bins across the NHS… which was even then a mess… because folk thought they deserved money rather than ‘The Gift’ of words. Turds. I mght write another about anonymous poets, who take time to write a stanza or line, and get published on page sixty nine

  2. I love this blog. My poetry is not obscure so you might like to take a look at at some of it! Also, my Dad was the voice over for Kipling Cakes! If you’d like to read a poem about him and a pen portrait take a look at my website.

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