The Exchange Newcastle communities come together to explore Women's Rights and the cost of living The Exchange launch, held in January 2023, brought together local residents, policy makers, charity workers and creatives at Newcastle City Library to discuss poetry, the cost of living crisis and women's rights, kicking off the city's new poetry hub. The event asked the big questions, including: How is the cost of living crisis impacting local women? How can communities come together to use creativity as a tool to drive social action? And how can poetry platform and amplify voices and lived experience to decision makers? A jam-packed day saw performances from heralded local poets Ellen Moran, Tahmina Ali and Rue Collinge, who performed commissions inspired by the voices of local women. You can read the commissioned poems here. We also heard from some great speakers - Mwenza Blell discussed the state of play for women in the area and how the cost of living crisis impacts women (find out more about Elswick Mutual Aid’s work here); Dr Karen Simecek shared her research in voice and the power of collective voice. Karen developed a manifesto with poets to help us think about how community action groups and poets can work together. Cllr. Lesley Storey spoke about the power of the library as a resource for the community and her commitment to supporting women's rights through the library. The event culminated in a poem by Sky Hawkins, who as ‘poetic minute taker’ captured the flavour of the evening in an on-the spot poem. You can read her minutes in poem Road Map here. "It was remarkable to be in a room of such diverse and insightful people, made up of women from different walks of life. Everyone agreed that the 'cost of greed crisis' is having a massive effect on marginalised women. My poem, written with Tyneside Women's Health, captured the frustration of engaging with local government for low-income people on benefits when people are really struggling to get by. It was phenomenal to have these words shared in a room full of people who really want to change things!" Ellen Moran, Poet This is the first in a year-long programme of community social action work to campaign and commission new poetry and performance; amplifying women's voices around the issues that are important to them. Together we can collect, present and amplify women's stories and experiences in spaces across the city, and establish the library as a ‘go-to’ for women’s rights. If you would like to be a part of the The Exchange in Newcastle please contact [email protected] About Poetry Exchange Hubs The Poetry Exchange Hub is a network of creative collaborators (residents, poets, activists, academics, policy-makers, librarians and others) convened by Poet in the City to explore and develop poetry productions responding to a specific area of social justice.