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Go public with your poetry about working for the people

Research project appeals for poetic contributions about working in the public sector

Korrin Smith-Whitehouse

Public sector professionals past and present who have a passion for poetry can share their work stories with a new writing research project.

Public Sector Poetry is for people working in – or retired from – education, health and social care and how they can use poetry to explore their experiences of working in the professions.

Current or budding poets can send poems about their challenges, frustrations, joys, heartbreaks and rewards with three poems of any length plus a short biography.

Primarily aimed at those in the East Midlands region, submitted poems are also welcome from people across the country.

Submissions are now open and although previous experience of writing poetry is welcome but not necessary, working in the public sector – or having previously worked there – is essential.

Submitted work may be shared on the Public Sector Poetry platforms, including anthologies to enlighten members of the public about how valuable public sector work is.

Each anthology will be guest edited by leading poets: Molly Case a London-based nurse and performance poet whose book, How to Treat People, was published in 2019, will edit the first edition, and Casey Bailey, an Assistant Headteacher and Poet Laureatte of Birmingham whose most recent collection, Please Do Not Touch, was published this year, will edit the Spring 2022 edition.

Another aim of the project is to create a community of poets with members encouraged to network with and support each other’s writing development with future workshops and events.

The deadline for submissions for the December issue is Friday 12th November. Up to three poems may be submitted via email, accompanied by a short bio. Further submission details can be found on the website.

Public Sector Poetry is founded by University of Northampton (UON) Senior Lecturer in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Korrin Smith-Whitehouse, with funding from Arts Council England.

Having previously worked as Education Manager at The Poetry Society, Korrin has been published in various journals and performed at festivals and events in the U.K.

This year, her poem about working with excluded children has been shortlisted for the Writing East Midlands Aurora Poetry Prize, (winners to be announced in October). Part of the grant awarded to Korrin for this project is to develop her own practice and create her first collection of poetry.

Korrin, who has also worked for 20 years in mainstream education and alternative provision, said: “I have written poetry throughout my time in the public sector but never had the confidence to show it to anyone until a few years ago; I saw myself as someone who taught poetry, not someone who could write it.

“I think public sector workers have the most incredible stories to tell, but lack the time, support and confidence to share them. I want to encourage others to share their stories and champion the creative voices of workers in the public sector.

“With this research we’re asking public sector poets out there to take the next step and use poetry to explore and explain who they are, what they do, and why they do what they do. The poems will be powerful evidence of the experiences of public sector workers and, hopefully, advocate change and improvement.”

Find out more about Public Sector Poetry.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, email your submission to: admin@publicsectorpoetry.co.uk

You can follow the project on Instagram @publicsectorpoetry

For conversations on social media about the project, use the hashtag: #PublicSectorPoetry

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