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The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre has been a focus for original research, community engagement and external collaborations since it first launched in 1998.
By developing a relationship between its research and outreach activities, the Centre has directly improved the cultural and creative life of Oxford and given a voice to those who would have been otherwise unheard.
External engagement has been embedded in the Poetry Centre’s research activity from the outset; with genuine knowledge exchange, collaborations with non-academic individuals and organisations, and co-production of new work at the heart.
This has resulted in wide-ranging external impact and significant sharing of ideas, leading to exciting new research insights and outputs.
The Poetry Centre’s work with refugees empowered those involved, and helped contribute to social inclusion debates and awareness about asylum seekers, immigration and refugees.
The Refugees Project operated in collaboration with Oxfordshire based charities Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource. Oxford-based poets were teamed with 14 exiled, refugee writers and a series of workshops were held to explore and create new writing based on stories and experiences of exile. It led to the publication of an anthology, See How I Land (Heaventree Press, 2009). To date this has sold 1500 copies and raised £3000 for Asylum Welcome, as well as making the public more aware of the charity.
The project was widely publicised in local and national press and the works were also showcased at a number of readings and events, including the annual Oxford Literary Festival and a Poet in the City event at Amnesty International in London.
In addition to producing high-quality literature, the project helped break down some of the perceived barriers between higher education, poetry and the community. For the refugees, whose voices are often seldom heard, it gave them self-confidence and the opportunity to communicate their stories, ideas and experiences in creative forms.
The role of Oxford City Poet was established in 2011 as a direct result of the Poetry Centre’s research. It was undertaken in collaboration with Oxford City Council. The first City Poet was Kate Clanchy, former Co-Director of the Poetry Centre. Her remit was to encourage both the reading and writing of poetry in Oxford and the region.
The impact of the role was huge; making poetry more accessible to children from underprivileged educational and economic backgrounds and encouraging their own creative writing. It was also highly praised by the teachers involved, helping to re-inspire them.
The Oxford City Poet has had a lasting, positive effect upon the cultural and creative life of Oxford, particularly in respect of the ethnic diversity of participants and social inclusion. It has also helped Oxford City Council deliver on the objectives of their Culture Strategy in particular with regards to improving the cultural life of the city and providing opportunities for young people to access and actively participate in high-quality cultural activities.
Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR.
Further information on the Oxford Poetry Centre can be found on their website.