This morning, our ‘Poetry on the Shakespeare Line’ project took a huge leap forward with the release of eighteen poems – one for each station along the line from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon – specially written for the stations and their surroundings. They’ve been created by eighteen of the West Midlands’ finest poets, with five former Birmingham poet laureates and several award-winning poets involved, and the range of voices represents the diversity and vibrancy of our region.
From now until the end of October, passengers on the Shakespeare Line (or folk simply visiting the stations) can listen to and download audio of the poems by using the Overhear app on their mobile phones. Whatever your taste in poetry – even if you think you don’t like it at all – there will be something for you. There are poems of wit and humour, history and hope, the role of spirit-lifting green spaces along the route and the importance of the Shakespeare Line in connecting people and communities.
Our thanks to all the poets involved for bringing their skill and their craft to this project. From Moor Street to Stratford, they are: Joe Cook, Nafeesa Hamid, Kurly McGeachie, Jasmine Gardosi, Hannah Swingler, Kibriya Mehrban, Spoz, Dreadlock Alien, Dave Pitt, Emma Purshouse, Roz Goddard, Steve Pottinger, Nellie Cole, Matt Black, Julie Boden, Jane Commane, Matt Windle, and Stanley Iyanu.
Thanks, too, to Fay Easton and her colleagues at West Midlands Railway for making this project possible, and to all the station adopter groups along the line who supplied the fascinating local knowledge which helped flavour the poems. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Later this year, the poems will be installed on noticeboards at each station, together with the ‘Pride of Place’ poem which thanks all of the volunteers and communities for their ongoing support for the railways, and Casey Bailey’s poem for the whole Shakespeare Line which kick-started this project on The Bard’s birthday (April 23rd, if you didn’t know). You can watch the video of that poem here, and it’s well worth five minutes (two minutes fifty-five seconds actually) of your time.
Expect to hear us talking about this on BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio CWR over the weekend, too…