WE'RE BUILDING A NEW WRITE OUT LOUD – AND ASKING OUR POETRY COMMUNITY TO HELP US
We all know that the world has changed immeasurably since March. Almost as much as it has done since Write Out Loud was formed nearly two decades ago. And one thing that’s been clear for all of us to see has been the impact and durability of poetry. The flurry of online poetry events has ranged from local open mics nights to national award ceremonies. It’s been as heart-warming and inspiring as it has been utterly bizarre. I very much doubt that Caroline Bird ever imagined accepting the Forward prize through a video on selfie mode. But either way, it’s demonstrated what poetry means to people. And more than that, what poetry can achieve in a post-Covid world.
Our own ‘Beyond the Storm’ campaign achieved phenomenal results. Firstly, in attracting 2,300 competition entries from around the world. We didn’t envy the judges’ task at having to whittle those down to the 100 poems which made the final anthology. And secondly, in raising nearly £8,000 for NHS Charities – both through anthology sales and donations.
It’s something that we’ll always be incredibly proud of. And what’s more remarkable is that we achieved this whilst barely having the time to blink.
That said, the Covid-19 crisis also enforced a period of reflection on everybody – us included. We were suddenly in a scenario that could only ever have been hypothetical before 2020. And during this period of reflection, we’ve come to realise that Write Out Loud has two options: adapt or die.
You’ll be relieved to know that we opted for the former. This isn’t a farewell letter. What it is, though, is a request for your continued support. We’re building a new era for Write Out Loud. And as part of the transition, we’ll be growing from a volunteer-led organisation into a fully professional one.
So, next month, we’ll be launching a fundraising campaign to enable us to make this new transition. Our target is £10,000 – which we realise is ambitious – but it’s a sum that would build a formidable foundation.
In the meantime, we’ll be sending out user questionnaires so that you can help us to shape what this new era of Write Out Loud looks like. We’ve accumulated some awesome memories over the last 18 years, and as with everything we do, it’s nothing without the community that supports us.
Either way, as part of this new-look Write Out Loud, we’ll be significantly expanding on what we’re able to offer. A revamped Gig Guide for the digital age is the obvious place to start. But on top of that, we want to provide more digital content in general. A wider range of news stories and reviews, increased video content, podcasts, and a much stronger social media presence.
We also want to increase the number of Write Out Loud events – be that in person or online. And as well as that, we want to expand our educational offering. This will include formal education in schools alongside non-formal education for us grown-ups. Online workshops have been another silver lining in Covid’s cloud, and we don’t see why they should disappear.
Finally, we want Write Out Loud to build on existing links with the global poetry community. Be it multinational poetry events, translation services, or poetry exchange projects. Because poetry is thriving in every corner of the world. And whilst Marsden will always be at the centre of it, we accept no limitations.
I’m writing this article as the new Development Manager of Write Out Loud. I’ve been writing and performing poetry for my entire adult life and have been full-time since 2015. It’s my main driving force and passion. And enabling and promoting others is just as important to me as anything else. So, the opportunity to be part of this new Write Out Loud is something which I’m over the moon about.
At the heart of Write Out Loud is its community ethos. And as much as I love the art form itself, it’s the poetry community that keeps me going every day. So, that’s one thing that’ll never change. But as we acclimatise to “the new normal”, it’s time to embrace the new Write Out Loud.
If you can afford to donate, we’d be hugely grateful. You can do so anonymously if you prefer. And if you can’t afford to donate, we’d be equally grateful if you shared our campaign and spread some love. The more people that come on board with Write Out Loud, the more we’ll be able to give back in return.
Poetry makes the world go round. Let’s do our bit to keep it spinning!
PHOTOGRAPH: MATTHEW THOMAS