Celebrating the creativity of health, education, and social work and care professionals took centre stage at a poetry event last week.
Public Sector Poetry is a project for people working in, retired from, or studying to enter professions in education, health, and social care.
Senior Lecturer in Education Korrin Smith-Whitehouse – who founded the project – is looking at how these people can use writing poetry to explore their experiences of working in the public sector.
This ongoing research hopes to better understand what life is like for public sector professionals. It is also hoped the project will create a community of poets, with workshops and events and members supporting each other’s writing development.
Launched in September last year, a number of excellent submissions were made giving guest editor Molly Case – a nurse turned poet – the difficult task of whittling them down to feature in the first Public Sector Poetry* Journal.
15 were selected and topics include clapping for carers, a GP’s patient list and the emails teachers have received during the pandemic. All submitted pieces will be included as part of the overarching research findings.
The inaugural journal has now been published and nine of those poets read their work live at the journal’s launch event held on Thursday 13 January.
The evening also included readings of their own work by Molly and Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Casey Bailey and recollections from those featured in the Journal about how they got started as poets and the writing process.
Korrin, a former Education Manager at The Poetry Society, has also worked for 20 years in mainstream education and alternative provision. She said: “Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted poems and those who came along to our first launch event. It really does make a difference to hear written words in their author’s own voice.
“This project isn’t just about showcasing excellent writing; it’s about hearing authentic stories from public sector workers and making sure the important messages within them are amplified to improve our understanding of the public sector. When I started writing back in 2002 it was at a time when I found my job challenging and I found writing poetry was therapeutic; it’s a really useful tool if we are feeling stressed, overworked or tired, and I wished something like Public Sector Poetry had existed back then so I could have shared work with others and been part of a creative community with similar experiences.
“Poetry can also help bring us together so it’s great to see a creative, collaborative community of like-minded people starting to form. I hope the research will advocate for change in the sector, so I’m really looking forward to reading the next round of submissions for our second journal which will be out in June.”
Submissions for the next Journal are already open; further details and how to submit your work can be found here (deadline is Monday 20 March). You can read the first edition of Public Sector Poetry here.
*Public Sector Poetry is funded by Arts Council England.