In the current tide of spectacular innovation, information overload and arguably, inattention, it is a positive sign and testament to our human need and capacity for sensitivity, attentiveness and craft that poetry is still read, listened to and written and I am in great admiration of any individuals, groups or organisations for whom the protection and promotion of it is a task to which they fully commit. Poet in the City is an organisation that has – through both large and small scale events, through dynamic projects and initiatives – shown dedication not only to encouraging individual writers and celebrating their work, but also to reaching and cultivating wide audiences and to ensuring that poetry retains a secure and valued place within our contemporary city.
Swimmers was launched in 2013 in association with STORE and began as a series of regular events – talks, discussions, readings, screenings – focussed on creative and dramatic writing and with the aim to explore and understand the relationship between practice, perception and the city space. These events ranged from a screening of Patrick Keiller’s London and Chris Petit’s Content to readings from a number of talented poets – both fledgling and well established – such as Matthew Gregory, Oli Hazzard, Malene Engelund and Christopher Reid. In the summer of 2014, Swimmers printed a small magazine as a continuation of these events and a direct result of the live readings and ongoing conversations that developed as part of the series, with each person included having contributed in some form to ideas central to its creative and critical progression.
I think it is vital for all those who value the potentially transformative nature of poetry and who are committed to its survival and advancement, to both communicate and collaborate in ways that might allow for a greater understanding and appreciation of the form. It is for this reason – among others – that I have agreed to take part in Poet in the City’s new and exciting Platforms initiative. I very much look forward to working with all those involved and contributing in any way that I can to development of the programme.