The Shakespeare Line runs from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon, and is one of the first railway lines in the country where all the stations along the route have been adopted by local community groups. In Spring 2021, we were asked to devise a series of events for the line to celebrate this.
First, we commissioned Birmingham poet laureate Casey Bailey to write a poem for the whole line, set it to a video featuring archive and present-day footage of the trains and stations, and released it on Shakespeare’s birthday. It’s a thing of beauty. Watch it here.
Next, we involved eighteen of the Midlands’ leading poets, each writing about one specific station, so that every station on the line now has a poem dedicated to it. The responses to this commission have exceeded anything we could have hoped for, and you can read them below. Just click on a station name. You can also listen to the poets reading their work when you travel along the Shakespeare Line, as audio tracks of all eighteen poems have been ‘pinned’ to their respective stations. To enjoy them while you travel, use the Overhear app to listen to or download them.
The project will continue through the summer, with poem texts appearing on posters at the stations, and we’ll also be asking members of the public to submit their own haiku inspired by travel along the line or a visit to a station. More details on that soon!
Finally, our thanks to West Midlands Railway for their support and for funding ‘Poetry on the Shakespeare Line’ as one of twenty-one ‘Your Community, Your Fund’ projects across the region.
We hope you enjoy these poems as much as we do. They’re all of them worth a read.
Birmingham Moor Street