Opening weekend!

We’ve been working hard to move into our new physical space at The Community Works as part of an exciting initiative run by Makespace Oxford, transforming a disused building in central Oxford into a mix of work space for social enterprises and meeting space for community groups.

We’ll be finally ready to share it with you on the first weekend of December!

Come along to our new home in The Community Works (21 Park End St, opposite the train station and Said Business School) – browse the collection, register as a borrower, take home a book or two – all for free!

We have poetry books galore for adults and kids, plus friendly librarians on hand to make recommendations and tell you more about our project.You can also find out how to get involved and volunteer with us.

Drop in anytime between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 4 December or Sunday 5 December. We can’t wait to see you there!

Launching… the OPL Patreon!

Since 2017, we have been operating on a mobile basis, running the library out of our big purple cargo bike. We’ve been building a community of borrowers, reaching out to people all over the city, and growing as a library and organization.

This year, we were invited to become part of an exciting initiative run by ​​Meanwhile in Oxfordshire transforming a disused building in central Oxford into a mix of work space for social enterprises and meeting space for community groups. We will be setting up shop in this space, called ‘The Community Works’, in October 2021.

But we need your help! To fund this exciting new step in our journey, we’re launching a Patreon account. Patreon is a platform that invites anyone to contribute a monthly donation to an organization. Patrons (people who sign up to contribute these monthly donations) will support the running costs and fees for renting a physical space, as well as the upkeep of our existing books, running local community events, and expanding the collection further

To become a patron, find out more, and support our work, visit our Patreon page!

The Future of Poems for Breakfast

Since lockdown began in March 2020, we’ve being rustling up some poems for breakfast every weekday morning, inviting subscribers to make a poem the first thing they read every day instead of the headlines. We created an email list which has to date reached over 800 subscribers all over the world, and sent all those lovely people a daily poem to digest throughout the day. It’s been a wonderful journey over the past 18 months, finding poems that feel hopeful, consoling, seasonally-appropriate, thought-provoking, while also making sure we’re representing all different kinds of poetry from a range of diverse voices.

All good things must come to an end, however, and we’ve decided that now is the time to wind down the Poems for Breakfast project. OPL is moving on to pastures new, with a move later this autumn into a permanent space which we hope will become a resource for people to access our hundreds of books, share ideas, connect with each other, and enjoy reading and writing. Although we will greatly miss our Poems for Breakfast project, redirecting our energy to this exciting new venture will continue to allow all sorts of people to discover and delight in the magic of poetry!

We’ll be sending breakfast poems out for the next month, with the last mailing on 15 October. From then, we hope to be set up in our new physical space in central Oxford. The world will always need poetry, and I hope the habit of reading a poem a day will stay with our dear subscribers – but rather than seeing us in your inboxes, why not come find us in real life, and borrow a book or two!

Thank you so much to everyone who has enjoyed the Poems for Breakfast project, to anyone who has donated money or sent us poem suggestions, or even just been in touch with feedback and responses to the mailouts. It has meant a great deal to us to hear about the impact these poems have made to your mornings these past years.


A few logistical things in a handy FAQ…


I have a regular donation set up through Paypal. Should I cancel it?

Firstly: THANK YOU! The money we’ve received through these donations has allowed us to continue the Poems for Breakfast project for as long as we did. We are truly grateful for this support. We understand that now the mailings are stopping, you might want to cancel your monthly donation. You can stop your payments through Paypal at any time. However, any continued donations or surplus at the end of the project will go directly towards sustaining the poetry library with all its future endeavours, including its new physical home.

Where can I find OPL in the future, and how can I continue to support their work?

Our new permanent home will be in central Oxford. The last details are just being finalized, but more details will be released in the next few weeks. Stay tuned on our website and sociail media for more information!

Later this month, we will be setting up a Patreon account for the library. Patreon is a platform that allows people to sign up to give regular monthly donations to support an organization in return for perks, mailouts, and updates. Through the OPL Patreon, we hope to cover the costs associated with keeping a permanent space, as well as the upkeep of the books, expanding the collection, and running events and workshops. More information about how to contribute to this Patreon will be released later in September so please stay tuned on our social media and website for information!

Will you be releasing the poems anywhere publicly?

Due to copyright issues, we can’t publish the poems anywhere publicly. However, in the last week of mailings, we plan to release a list of the ~400 poems we shared as part of the project, so all subscribers have a record and can seek the poems out online or in book form!

From The Ground Up: New Exhibition!

From the Ground Up: Stories of Climate Action is a celebration of 20 years of the Community Action Group (CAG) Oxfordshire project, a network of almost 100 grassroots community action groups working on issues as diverse as waste, transport, food, energy, biodiversity and social justice.

The exhibition will run from 1 September til 9 October at the Old Fire Station and showcases the work of 20 of these Community Action Groups, of which Oxford Poetry Library is one! We will be displaying the work which has emerged from our The Lost Words project. Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s book, The Lost Words, encourages readers to connect with nature through poetry, and rediscover the wonder of the natural world. Inspired by this book, we have run a number of workshops over the past 2 years in schools and community groups, working with mental health charities and other arts organizations. In this exhibition, we will be celebrating the poetry written by the children and adults during these workshops.


We have been hard at work with a local artist and book-binder to create a beautiful book of this poetry. The book will be on display and available to browse at the exhibition so don’t miss the chance to come along and explore!

New ‘The Lost Words’ workshops!

We have two upcoming opportunities to join us for our Lost Words nature-walk-and-poetry workshops, with a chance for kids of all ages to get involved.

For 7-14 year olds and families…

Saturday 25 September
10am – 1pm

The Old Fire Station
£5 per person (book here)

Oxford Poetry Library is delighted to bring its highly-rated nature poetry workshop to the Old Fire Station. This workshop is based on the award-winning book ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris, which aims to bring the natural world back into the lives of children through poetry.

Ideal for 7-14 year olds and their parents/guardians, this is a 3-hour session which combines nature identification skills, vocabulary building, and imaginative description using all five senses to explore nature. After a chat about the kind of creatures, creepy-crawlies, and all manner of living things we might be seeing (and a bit of binocular training!), we will head out into a nearby green space to explore. Local nature experts will lead the walk, teaching participants how to look and listen and notice the living world around us. We then return inside to create our own Lost Words-inspired poetry with the help of poet Phoebe Nicholson.

This workshop is part of the programme of events associated with CAG Oxfordshire’s From the Ground Up exhibition, running from 28 August-9 October. As part of this exhibition, we will showcase poetry which has emerged from The Lost Words workshops we have run over the past few years.

For more information and to book tickets, please go here.

For secondary school students…

Saturday 11 September
10am – 1pm

Wytham Woods
£13.52 per person (book here)

Wytham Woods is delighted to host a new workshop for secondary school students from the amazing Oxford Poetry Library. OPL have adapted their highly-rated nature poetry workshop, inspired by “The Lost Words” by famous naturalist Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris, for an older age-group, and connecting with the school curriculum, and we are delighted to bring this opportunity to Wytham.

This workshop, with just 15 places, will give you a real boost to your secondary school English studies. You will have a delightful three hours with an expert ecologist and a professional poet, exploring the world famous Wytham Woods, sharing ideas, and enjoying the peace and quiet with paper and pen in hand.

For this September workshop we will be focussing on the end of summer / early autumn wildlife and having a look at the ponds at Wytham Woods for our inspiration. You will learn to identify some species and learn about how they live, and then be coached and encouraged to find your own words to express your thoughts and ideas.

We will round off the morning toasting marshmallows over a camp fire.

This workshop is being run by Wytham Woods’ Youth Educator in Residence through education social enterprise LIGC Ltd.

For more information and to book, please go here.

Poetry & Ecology workshop for secondary school students

Join the Oxford Poetry Library at Wytham Woods for The Lost Words workshop aimed at KS3 and KS4.

Wytham Woods is delighted to host a new workshop for secondary school students from the amazing Oxford Poetry Library on June 5th, from 1pm-4pm. OPL have adapted their highly-rated nature poetry workshop, inspired by “The Lost Words” by famous naturalist Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris, for a new age-group, and connecting with the school curriculum, and we are delighted to bring this opportunity to Wytham.

This workshop, with just 15 places, will give you a real boost to your school literature studies, and your biology studies. You will have a delightful three hours with an expert ecologist and a professional poet, exploring the world famous Wytham Woods, sharing ideas, and enjoying the peace and quiet with paper and pen in hand.

For this June workshop we will be focussing on the birdlife at Wytham Woods for our inspiration. We will also find many butterflies, bees, dragonflies, and summer flowers. You will learn some identification and binocular skills, and then be coached and encouraged to find your own words to express your thoughts and ideas.

We will round off the afternoon toasting marshmallows over a camp fire.

About “The Lost Words”

In 2007 the Oxford Junior Dictionary left out words relating to the natural world – otter, wren, acorn and many others, and in their place added broadband, blog and others. In response, Macfarlane and Morris created ‘The Lost Words’ – a collection of acrostic poems by Macfarlane, gorgeously illustrated by Morris, which re-conjures these words, brings them back to our hearts and minds, and helps us rediscover the magic of the natural world.

Event leaders

Bird expert Nick Boyd will lead the nature walk and talk, teaching you how to look and listen and notice the living world around us, and poet Phoebe Nicholson will help us create our own Lost Words-inspired poetry.

Parents and guardians!

The event will be managed by Wytham Woods Youth Educator in Residence who will be there to ensure the students are all safe and happy throughout. Caregivers are very welcome to stay with the group during the session (you don’t need to book a ticket), drop off and go for a walk in the woods, or just come back later. We will take contact details and ask you to complete a form with all the relevant information we need to keep your child safe and happy. We hope you’ll join in the campfire and marshmallow bit!

What to bring

The event will be covid-safe and outdoors so please bring weather-appropriate clothing, suitable for a walk in the woods. Bring water, and snacks!

Cost

Tickets are £15 per person + eventbrite booking fee. We are charging enough for this event to cover the very modest costs of OPL for two people for the afternoon and their prep time, and the Wytham Woods costs. But if you are struggling with the amount, please get in touch. kim.polgreen@ligc.co.uk.

To book tickets for this workshop, please go here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/poetry-and-ecology-workshop-for-secondary-school-students-tickets-154077938261?aff=erelexpmlt

Many Voices Collection pop-up appearance

Oxford Poetry Library and The Children’s Allotment return to Flo’s Place in the Park on 8 May at 10am til 12 noon with their Many Voices Collection, a collection of children’s books featuring Black characters, written by Black writers, or which centre an anti-racist message.

These books form part of the Oxford Poetry Library’s lending collection, to be borrowed and enjoyed for free by kids and adults alike. We will be at Flo’s on the 8 May with the full Many Voices Collection for you to explore the whole collection and take a book or two home with you!

The books in the Many Voices Collection include not only anti-racist books about understanding and challenging injustice, but also stories in which children could find diverse representations of themselves and their families, as well as those that are different.

Also joining us will be Auntie B’s Treasures, a library collection of Islamic children’s books to read, browse, and borrow.

Read more about the whole collection and the project here.

*COVID information*
The pop-up will be outdoors in the nursery garden. It will be socially distanced and we will allow one household at a time to visit the stall. We will provide hand sanitiser and we ask all attendees to wear masks. Please do not attend the event if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or had direct contact with an individual diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

Where Flowers Will Grow: A collaborative writing project

In February 2021, through the Oxford Poetry Library Twitter account (@OxPoetryLibrary) we ran an experimental collaborative writing game. We began by writing one haiku, and invited our followers to write a new haiku, using our final line as their first line. People could then use the first line of that haiku as their new first line, to create a growing tree of haikus.

We weren’t too stringent about the proper haiku rules – we asked for the 5-7-5 syllable structure, but weren’t too fussy about anything else. Poems could be on any subject, and we particularly enjoyed those that took things off in new directions.

The below tree is what came from it – click on the thumbnails to see the full images.

Thank you to everybody who took part!

Fancy a blind date with a book?

Yearning for a love letter this Valentine’s Day? Or a blind date? We’ve got you covered!

Email us at oxfordpoetrylibrary@gmail.com before 13 February with your address and on Valentine’s Day we will deliver you a surprise seasonally-appropriate book to borrow! (Unfortunately only available within the Oxford ring-road…)

Launch of the Many Voices Collection!

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Many Voices Collection!

The Many Voices Collection is a collection curated by Oxford Poetry Library and The Children’s Allotment of books featuring black characters, written by black writers, or which centre an anti-racist message. These books form part of the Oxford Poetry Library’s lending collection, free to be borrowed and enjoyed for free by kids and adults alike.

Books are a powerful way for children to understand the world they live in, but often the messages they receive from books reinforce harmful attitudes rooted in our society. Following the racist incidents of 2020 such as the murder of George Floyd and the global Black Lives Matter movement, a group of parents and educators connected to and Oxford Poetry Library and The Childrens Allotment came together to question the racism implicit in the education system and the kinds of books and learning materials around us.

White is frequently the norm in children’s literature, and books often reinforce stereotypes or completely omit the stories of those marginalised in our society. There are still too few books where children of colour can see characters who look like them. The Many Voices Collection seeks to address this gap in representation and build a diverse, colourful, and engaging collection of books for any family to borrow for free.

Come to the nursery garden of Flo’s Place in the Park, 12 December, between 12 noon and 3pm, to discover the collection for yourself, and borrow a book or two!