Staying up

No, Villa fans, this isn’t a reference to your team’s end-of-season escape from the drop. We’re talking poetry. Black Country poetry. And lots of it.

Over the past two months, we’ve run Stay Up Your Own End, a series of online poetry events commissioned by Creative Black Country as one of a raft of projects to help our region’s arts continue to thrive in a time of Covid-19. For those of you who don’t know (or would like a recap) we ran five events – centred on Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, and Stourbridge in turn – asking people to submit poems about some aspect of life in those areas of the Black Country.

The response was overwhelming. Over the course of the project we received well over 100 poems celebrating and commemorating life in our part of the world. There were poems from people we knew, and had hoped would take part, but half of the pieces sent in were from people we’d never engaged with before. Secret poets. And some of those were from people who’d never written before but decided to have a dabble because – well, because of lockdown, or because they had something they wanted to say about where they live.

Our judges – established poets from the Black Country – chose one poem from each of the five events as their favourite. These were turned into subtitled videos for our grand finale, where they were shown alongside a video piece from each judge. But what of the other poems, excellent as they were? We felt it was important to give them a further lease of life too. So we approached Walsall, Sandwell, and Dudley Libraries, and Wolverhampton Literature Festival to see if they would like to share the poems about their borough. And we’re very glad to say they did.

We believe that giving people the chance to have their voice heard makes all the difference in the world. And we’re very proud to have played a part in giving all of these poems a platform. Thank you to everyone who took part. And thanks to Creative Black Country for commissioning our project in the first place.

You can watch all ten videos on the Stay Up Your Own End Youtube channel here.
Many of the Wolverhampton poems are on the Wolverhampton Literature Festival website, here.

Check out the social media pages of the respective library services to see the poems they’ve shared.