Monday, 3 January 2011

Poetry Raises £4,000 for the Homeless in North London

Despite the past year being a tricky one for many people financially, the Camden and Lumen Poetry project has raised even more for the homeless than the year before. This is a lovely surprise and a great help to the two Cold Weather Shelters supported. Here's proof that poetry can, among other things, serve a practical purpose.

I help out every month on the wine table and organise the website on - and Ward Wood Publishing is also helping with the fundraising Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition which you can see on First prize, judged by Carol Ann Duffy, is publication of a 20-page pamphlet of poetry and 50 free copies.

But the force behind the Camden and Lumen Poetry Series is poet Ruth O'Callaghan, so here are a few New Year words from her:

"2010 proved a challenging year but we still managed to raise nearly £4000 (with gift-aid) for the two Cold Weather Shelters we fund, and one of the ministers has already written to say that without the money they would be unable to continue. SO a MEGA THANKS TO YOU for your continued support. Also a very big thank you to Chris, Lynne and Adele who consistently do the bar and door. If anyone would like to volunteer to do the rare evening as ‘holiday relief’ it would be much welcomed.

Also welcome are any suggestions you might have with regard to the evenings. They are your evenings giving you the opportunity to read in front of established publishers (and wonderful, surprising things have happened) and internationally well known poets, as well as being published alongside them in an anthology. Last Christmas, when asked for suggestions, many requested that the poets from the floor had their own evenings enabling them to have a five minute – or longer – spot to offer a wider range of their work. This we did but the evenings were poorly attended so we presume that, in general, you prefer publishers and ‘name’ poets – correct me if I’m mistaken. Meanwhile, there will always be floor spots and the opportunity for longer spots but within the publishers/named poets evenings.

And we do have good relationships with publishers – congratulations to those who have done the mentoring/workshops and have subsequently have been published, and to those who will be in the 2011 Poets-from-the-Floor anthology due out in May.

We have a fabulous line up of poets for 2011 including Anne Stevenson and, fresh from the brilliant Aldeburgh Festival, Matthew Caley, Bernard Kops and Imtiaz Dharker – her Mumbai lunch box is a must. And that is just in the first few months. The second half of the year is equally exciting and there will of course be publishers’ evenings so please make the most of the opportunities offered.

In fact, the first event of 2011 – 7th January at Camden – is that dynamic new publishing house Ward Wood presenting poets Mike Horwood and Ann Alexander. Come along, meet the publishers, find out what they are about.

We are growing. We now have a competition with the winner having a pamphlet published, the glassses of wine are a tad larger and the raffle – OH, the dear old raffle – prize is increasing from £25 to over £30 worth of goodies. The free raffle evenings were much appreciated so perhaps we should have spontaneous i.e. unannounced, ones during the year. Again, if anyone has any other suggestions please let me know."
- Ruth O'Callaghan

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