Displaced Voices

On 18 January we are collaborating with Orchestra of St John’s, Somerville College, and Open House Oxford as part of an initiative called Displaced Voices. This is a project which brings together school and university students with professional musicians, community members, refugees and asylum seekers through music and literature, and raises awareness about refugee issues in Oxfordshire through artistic expression.

Join us on Friday 18 January at 5.30pm at Somerville for a FREE event, starting with a panel discussion exploring issues of displacement and the refugee experience. This will be followed by a short performance at 6.30pm across the road at Open House from some Oxford-based writers on their experiences of migration. We will present a brief showcase of poetic voices, reading their work on the subject of displacement, migration and home. This will include short performances from Yousif Qasmiyeh, Nancy Campbell, Mukahang Limbu, Shara Lessley, and Muradi Bakir, sharing their stories of movement in landscapes as far-flung as arctic Greenland and the Syrian civil war, exploring how homes can be left, moved, and made.

This will be followed at 7.30pm by a concert featuring poets from Oxford Spires Academy working with professional musicians to set their poetry to music.

It promisees to be a pretty unforgettable evening of displaced voices, music, and poetry – don’t miss it!

The panel discussion and reception is free but booking is recommended as space is limited, so email principals.office@some.ox.ac.uk to register. For more information and full details, see here: https://www.osj.org.uk/event/displaced-voices-panel-discussion-at-somerville-college-and-open-house-oxford/

The concert following the reception is ticketed and tickets and more information can be found here.

The Lost Words: Workshop and Walk


Lost words poster flyer

Announcing a new workshop from Oxford Poetry Library in collaboration with Flo’s Place in the Park


Rediscover the magic in your city! Oxford is full of life, colour, creeping beasts, and enchanting creatures if we only take the time to look for it.

Join us for an exciting workshop-and-walk on Sunday 27 January at 10am – 12 noon, inspired by The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. Macfarlane and Morris created this spellbinding collection in response to the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary which introduced new words such as “broadband” and “blog” while words relating to the natural world (acorn, wren, otter, willow, to name a few) were lost. The dictionary, reflecting the frequency of words in the daily language of children, threw into undeniable relief the idea that children are losing touch with nature. Enter ‘The Lost Words’. This is a magical 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 children to discover the natural world around them.

And now we conjure this spirit in our very own Florence Park! We will be meeting at Flo’s Place in the Park, the new community hub in the heart of the park. 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 in the park to explore. Nick Boyd, resident nature-expert, will lead the walk, teaching you how to look and listen and notice the living world around us. We will then return to Flo’s to create our own Lost Words-inspired poetry with the help of poet Phoebe Nicholson. Collage and craft materials will be available to illustrate and decorate your spells!

This is a pilot session for a series of workshop to happen later in the year so stay tuned…

Suitable for ages 7-14.
Places limited, so booking required!
£5 per child, tickets available here
Grown-ups welcome to join but not required
27 January, 10am-12 noon
Flo’s Place in the Park (Florence Park)

In collaboration with Open House… Writing Home

Writing Home flyer


Like to play with words? So do we!

This month we are launching a weekly session at Open House, a brand new public living room and talking space about housing and homelessness.

Come hang out with our poet-in-residence and have a go at some writing games, techniques and activities – or just curl up with a cup of tea and a book! We will have plenty of resources, materials, and poetry for you to get stuck into so just drop in – no need to register.

The sessions run weekly on Wednesdays from 5 December between 10am and noon – and will carry on into the new year, too.

Spread the word!



Want to be a librarian for a day? Or run a craft session with little ones? Connect with elderly people in a reading session? Or discover ways of using poetry to interact more with nature and your local environment? Get involved with some of our amazing, creative events and readings?

We are volunteer-recruiting! There are lots of opportunities available for people of all ages, abilities, and interests: running the library at the market sessions, getting involved in some workshops, sessions, collaborative poetry-making, zine-making, helping us find new drop-off/collection points for books, creating a reading list of your favourite poems for us to share with our borrowers..and much more!

As well as being the life-blood of our organization, volunteering can help you learn new skills, meet new people, and engage with your community.

All you need is enthusiasm – poetry-expertise is definitely not a criteria (although it doesn’t hurt!), and we aim to include people of all physical and social abilities. There’s always something to be done, and we’re hungry for your ideas and energy!

Fancy meeting like-minded people and helping a local, grassroots, not-for profit project? Or just fancy hanging out with a bikeful of books? Then get in touch by emailing oxfordpoetrylibrary@gmail.com and we can add you to our volunteer mailing lists!

Sundays @ Silvie


Find us once a month at


After a lovely summer residency, we are BACK at Silvie for monthly Sunday appearances – first Sunday of every month, starting 7 October, we will be setting up shop at the cafe so you can browse some poetry while you enjoy some of the most delicious coffee and brunch in the city…




Homeland flyer


Poetry can be a powerful way to explore identity, belonging, movement, and one’s environment. Nowhere is that more pertinent than in the work of writers most affected by migration and the refugee experience. Azfa Awad, Rukiya Khatun, and Hassan Bamyani are exciting local voices in the poetry world who are themselves from refugee and immigrant backgrounds, whose poetry explores and interrogates these ideas with precision and power. Alan Buckley is a local poet who works closely with refugees at Oxfordshire charity, Refugee Resource, and James Attlee works closelyw ith Hassan Bamyani to create English versions of his Persian poems. Come hear them share their work and read their poetry at this unique event.

50% of all our profits from the event will go to Asylum Welcome‘s hardship fund which supports young people and adults who are destitute in Oxford due to their immigration status.

Azfa Awad is an award winning page and performance poet who won the Oxford Tower Poetry competiton in 2013 for her poem ‘Origins’ and became the first Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry. Her role involved sharing her love for poetry with the young people of Oxford through writing workshops, and collaborating with composers at Oxford University to write an aria for oper. She was also part of ‘Map of Me,’ a two-woman performance poetry show with Rosemary Harris that explored the relationship between a young female refugee and an immigration officer.

Rukiya Khatun’s poetry explores her childhood in Bangladesh and her journey to England when she was six. She is now 22 and a student in London, and has had her poetry included in anthologies and compilations, some of which can be found here and here.

Hassan Bamyani is from the Hazara community in Afghanistan, a persecuted Shia minority. He worked as a teacher in Afghanistan, teaching both boys and girls and was also active as a poet. After escaping the Taliban, he came to Britain where he now lives with his wife and son. Earlier this year, his family faced deportation back to an extremely unstable situation in Afghanistan. A community campaign worked to pressure the Home Office to reverse their decision, and the case was eventually thrown out after several members of the Oxford community campaigned to demonstrate what valued members of the community the family are. Much of this can be attributed to the power of Hassan’s poetry to communicate and connect with people. His writing explores his experiences, written in Dari, his dialect of Persian.

James Attlee is a writer, journalist and musician living in the UK. His books include Guernica: Painting the End of the World (2017), Station to Station, (2015) shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award, Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight (2011) and Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey (2009). His digital fiction The Cartographer’s Confession won the New Media Writing Award 2017. His journalism has appeared in publications including The Independent, Frieze magazine, Tate Etc and the London Review of Books. He is a close friend of Hassan Bamyani’s and works with him to create English versions of his poetry.

Alan Buckley is from Merseyside, and now lives in Oxford. His most recent publication is the pamphlet The Long Haul (HappenStance, 2016). He was highly commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes. He is a poetry editor at Ignition Press, and a school writer-in-residence with First Story. He also works as a psychotherapist for local charity Refugee Resource.

Music will also be provided by the wonderful local songwriter, Samantha Twigg Johnson.

Samantha Twigg Johnson sings songs of love, fury, apocalypse, and wine-soaked compromise. As a performer, she gained her sea-legs on Chicago’s vibrant open mic scene in the 2000s. She has since played in a variety of bright stages and dark corners, and now lives in Oxford. In addition to the flamenco guitar, she plays the Puerto Rican cuatro and the cajón. She is currently working on a new record, ”Flights and Landings”.

Tickets are £7 and are available in advance here

SECOND OPEN MEETING: Women and Trans* Reading Group

Thank you so much to everyone who came down to the first open meeting on Friday for our exciting new reading/writing group for women and trans* people! What a productive and inspiring gathering. Here are some of the awesome ideas we came up with about what we want this group to be founded on, how we’d like it structured, what feminist poetry and writing means to us…


***We are going to be largely communicating through WhatsApp and email so if you were unable to come along on Friday but want to be included in future meetings/sessions, then email oxfordpoetrylibrary@gmail.com with your phone number and email address you’d like to be contacted on!***

Our next meeting is Monday 6 August at 7.30pm, at OARC (upstairs in the East Oxford Community Centre) – don’t miss it…

South Park Session – 5 August



It’s the long, hot summer, and we’re craving a bit of Sunday lounging in the sunshine with a good book. So come along to South Park on 5 August from 2pm for an afternoon reading session!

We will be there from 2pm til 4.30pm – spot the yellow plum flag! – with the library, blankets and cushions. Lie around in the grass, have a quiet moment unwinding in the sunshine perusing a book or two, browse our collection, chat about poetry, and generally hang out and soak up the summery vibes!

We’ve got everything from the most cutting-edge contemporary and modern poetry, to the dusty old classics, also picturebooks and kids books to get the little ‘uns into poetry nice and early.

We might even crack out the SodaStream again.



OPEN MEETING: Women and Trans* Reading Group

At 7.30pm on 27 July at OARC (upstairs at the East Oxford Community Centre), our brand spankin’ new Women and Trans* Reading Group will have its inaugural open meeting.



Ever felt like there was something you really wanted to say but you just weren’t sure how? Want to get your voice heard, hear the voices of other women and trans* folk? Share your writing, read more widely, and learn from your peers?

We are a collective who welcome women, non-binary, and trans* people to share poetry and prose – their own and/or that of others – and together improve our writing skills, feel empowered, and read more of the work of other women/trans* writers.

We want this group to be self-directing and with as much input from its members as possible! With that in mind, this will be the inaugural open meeting of the group to discuss the following:

  • Would people like it to be more a reading or writing group, or a mix of both? How will sessions be structured?
  • What are the important aims and principles for the group to be founded on?
  • How often would people like the group to meet? Monthly/fortnightly/weekly?

Bring your ideas, enthusiasm, and a poem – it can be yours or one by a woman/trans* writer you admire – and we can get the ball rolling with sharing, celebrating, and enjoying some quality poetry!

Due to the nature of the group, our space is for those who identify as female or in the trans* community – but within that, open to all! Kids welcome to come too (just let us know in advance, and we can bring some of its kids books to keep ’em occupied and reading while we chat.)

Announcing… Women and Trans* Reading Group



Ever felt like there was something you really wanted to say but you just weren’t sure how? Want to get your voice heard, hear the voices of other women and trans* folk? To share your writing, read more widely, and learn from your peers?

We are creating a collective who welcome women, non-binary, and trans* people to share poetry and prose – their own and/or that of others – and together improve our writing skills, feel empowered, and read more of the work of other women/trans* writers.

Due to the nature of the group, our space is for those who identify as female or in the trans* community – but within that, open to all!

Join the facebook group (or follow OPL on twitter / join our mailing list) to stay in the loop as to our happenings and the first open meeting at OARC at East Oxford Community Centre (date and time tbc) for all those interested to discuss how the group will work, and get the ball rolling!