News & Events

Poems for Queer Euphoria

As part of this year’s Oxford Pride celebrations, we will be running a day of activities at the library with inspiration from our collection of LGBTQAI+ poets past and present. Engage with our classic word games, explore surprising crafts and workshop your poetic expressions for Queer Euphoria & Pride 2022!

Free, drop-in anytime between 12pm and 3pm at The Community Works, activities and books for all ages!

Housewarming!

Since 2017, we have been peddling (and pedalling!) our wares through the streets of Oxford in a big purple cargo bike. We now at last have a physical space to call our own in The Community Works in the heart of the city centre. After months of painting shelves, getting books onto those shelves, gathering an army of volunteer librarians, and setting up our regular opening hours, we are ready to celebrate this new space and have a proper housewarming.

To mark the occasion, we will be running a whole day of activities for all ages, and an evening showcase of poetry performances on Saturday April 9th.

Housewarming Day

On Saturday 9th April between 10am and 4pm for a day of poetry fun, crafting, and storytelling. You’ll find a wide range of fun activities to try out, designed for people of all ages and abilities, all alongside our diverse collection of poetry which is free to browse and borrow.

Here’s a flavour of the fun you can take part in:

·       Take part in a poetry game, including our famously fun magnetic poetry kit

·       Pop in and add a line or two to an Oxford Community poem using a retro typewriter

·       Listen to stories from the Many Voices Collection told by local writers and performers

·       Take part in Poetry Orienteering to find hidden gem locations in Oxford, and then decorate a map with a poem of your making

·       Help us decorate the library with art and collaging

·       Join in a Poetry Workshop and, if you’re feeling like it, share your poem

This event is free but any donations will be gratefully received!

Housewarming Night

On Saturday April 9th from 7.30pm, join us for an evening of poetry, spoken word, and music. We will have performances from gems of the Oxford poetry scene:

Laura Theis

Claire LeMaster

Gommie

and a musical interlude from Sam Twigg Johnson.

We will also have an open mic session so please bring your own spoken word to share, if you would like to perform. Slots will be 2 minutes long and sign-up will be on the door on arrival. We can’t wait to hear what you’ve got up your sleeve!

Tickets for the evening event are £7 (£5 concessions/Patreon supporters) and can be bought in advance here.

The Community Works can be found on Frideswide Square, opposite the train station at 21 Park End Street. To find out more about this new venue, click here.

To find out more about this event, including any questions about accessibility, please drop us a line at oxfordpoetrylibrary@gmail.com

YWMP Takeover event at OVADA

Feminist poetry badges are BACK!

And you’ll get the chance to get creative and make your own on March 12th as part of Young Women’s Music Project‘s takeover event at OVADA Gallery.

Come along to YWMP Takeover @ OVADA for a day of music, workshops, art, films and food – everyone is welcome!

YWMP presents a jam-packed programme to celebrate ‘Resistance and Resilience’: an exploration of the experiences of the young people, leaders and workers involved in grassroots music projects and our collective vision for transforming local music scenes.

As part of the proceedings, we’re running a poetry and badge-making workshop. Drop in from 4pm-6pm to explore poetry in our collection by women, non-binary, and trans writers, and be inspired to create badges with feminist slogans. All materials provided!

YWMP’s TAKEOVER will run all day and into the evening – find the full programme here: www.ywmp.org/ywmptakeover

Fancy some last-minute bookish Christmas shopping?

Looking to do some eco-friendly, bookish last minute Christmas shopping?

On Saturday December 18th, as well as running our usual library stall, Orinoco – The Oxfordshire Scrapstore will be joining us at The Community Works from 12pm til 3pm for a BIG BOOK SALE!

These are shiny new books which have been donated to Orinoco by an Oxford publishing company, of a wide range of genres, for kids and adults alike, and which can be yours for a small donation.

Our library will be open for browsing and borrowing, but bring some spare change to pick up some books for a bargain!

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