Based these days in Bristol, “Poems for…the wall” has started to work in partnership with the Bristol Poetry Institute. The BPI is based in the literature department of Bristol University.
The BPI has not only procured some seed money for us, but has also been greatly helpful in providing local contacts and opportunities.
Thanks to that sponsorship, a small exhibition of the project’s bilingual poem-posters is currently on display in a popular university café called Beacon House, near the Wills Memorial Building at the top of Queens’s Road.
For, like many another university of the present day, Bristol University brings together students and staff from all over the world, representing a huge range of different mother-tongues. It means, of course, that large numbers of young people are spending a great deal of time studying, under pressure, in a place where the language mainly spoken is not their own.
A good half of the poems-posters supplied by “Poems for…the wall” are bilingual, with fifty different languages represented. For these to be displayed in a popular place like Beacon House, means that many a non-English student currently living and studying in Bristol will have found his or her own language taking pride among them. At the very least, the poems offer a statement of welcome and respect.
And for English readers, they offer a view of human experience and connectedness that is rich, international, complex and big-hearted.
Further and even more ambitiously, two local comprehensive schools, Clevedon and St Katherine’s, are currently mounting exhibitions of the project’s mental health collection. The poem-posters have occasionally been enlarged for exhibition in the past – most notably by the Foreign Office and by the Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal, West London. But in these two local school exhibitions, we have made the enlargements ourselves for the first time. They look splendid. In each school’s case, there are two posters at A1 size, 4 at A2 and six at A3.
We hope to continue to explore the creative possibilities of these contacts over the coming months.