Cecil Collins

   (British, 1908-1989)


Pass On A Poem


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Pass it on!


THERE is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry--
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll--
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

                              Emily Dickinson


Would you liketo start a pass on a poem event

For support and advice, email: enquiries@passonapoem.com

Some people have expressed interest in leading or joining pass on a poem groups in different areas of the country. If you'd like to be put in touch with them, please send a contact address or telephone number to enquiries@passonapoem .com.


"A poem learnt by heart belongs to you. It is something you can hug to yourself; it is a light in the darkness. We don't read poems because, like bran flakes, they're good for us; we read them because we love them - and if you haven't yet found a poem you really love, keep looking and I am sure you will."                              

Erica Wagner


"There are times when a deeper need enters, when we want the poem to be not only pleasurably right but compellingly wise, not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a re-tuning of the world itself. We want the surprise to be transitive like the impatient thump which unexpectedly restores the picture to the television set, or the electric shock which sets the fibrillating heart back to its proper rhythm. We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there blue with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin's regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art could be equal to it."

Seamus Heaney


Watch our two films, of the celebrity poetry reading to launch pass on a poem at Oxfam bookshops and of regular readers reading and reciting in Notting Hill, West London.


Read Bel Mooney's account of the first reading in Bath reprinted from her Saturday column in The Daily Mail

Read Gillian Stafford's account of her experience of starting a group in her own home



January 2014: Notting Hill has been passing on poems for eight years.

A recent event was particularly memorable.

                                                                                                          by Matthew Stadlen

                                          If we are mark'd to die, we are enow

                                          To do our country loss; and if to live,

                                          The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

The latest Notting Hill Pass On A Poem roared to a start with the words of an Englishman - Shakespeare's exhorting king, Henry V, and finished with the softer lines of an Irishman. The language of Yeats brought to an end poems from around the world and was recited, not read, from the stairs. It was standing room only for 'The Fiddler of Dooney'.

    The basement of a house in Notting Hill was filled with fifty people, twenty-seven of them readers, meeting to celebrate poetry on a mild January evening. Rainbow tulips lent their colours to a coming together of young and old. And the poetry chosen reflected the diversity of the crowd. Chinese, American, German and English people read (amongst others) Ginsberg, Emily Berry, Naruda, MacNeice, Eliot, Brecht, Rumi, Goethe, Billy Collins, Herbert and Lenrie Peters.

   The idea of Pass On A Poem is housed in its name. And, when the regular contributor, Roger Morsley-Smith, recited Hardy's 'The Darkling Thrush', I felt the significance of this particular passing on of a poem to me. A lover of Hardy's novels, it made me want to go away and read his poems.

    Though reading aloud in public, even among the like-minded, can be a nerve-shredding experience, ten-year-old Lola was a nerveless champion of the younger generation. She held the company of adults, some of whom were sixty or seventy years her senior, in her spell.

     Notting Hill Pass On A Poem, the first to be set up in 2006, is well established. But, that night there were many new faces and almost as many first-time readers. The area may have long ago lost its edge, but this collection of people might easily have found themselves in 1980s Notting Hill at the height of its Bohemian spikiness.

     Newcomers and seasoned readers brought a concentrated zest to their readings. We all left invigorated, re-charged for the winter weeks yet to come.


(See 'news and events' / 'recent readings' for the list of poems and readers at this event on 22nd January 2014)




aims : pass on a poem, a not-for-profit initiative, exists to provide entertainment and to create enthusiasm for poetry by bringing people together to read out loud poems which have a special personal significance and to explain, briefly, why. Some readings take place in private homes, with group membership being by invitation. Others are organised at regular intervals in public venues, so that anybody who enjoys or who would like to try reading or simply listening to poetry can be included. No previous experience of reading out loud is necessary. Anybody is welcome to submit a poem they would like to share.

readings : pass on a poem readings demonstrate that the process of selection, reading aloud and listening has an electric, exhilarating effect. It opens and reopens people's eyes, ears and hearts to the power of poetry, and to the experiences, feelings and thoughts of others. A remarkable range of subject matter, and of style, form, length and date of composition emerges from the poems chosen. People of all backgrounds and ages take part in the public events. The idea is that small-scale poetry reading should become a familiar and exciting feature of local culture all over the country, taking place in public venues, schools and offices, and also in people's own homes. A further commitment is to make available a ready supply of volunteer readers to perform free of charge in residential homes, hospitals, prisons and other centres where live poetry could make a social or therapeutic contribution. While occasional celebrity readings are arranged in order to raise its profile locally, the heart and substance of the project is the establishment of regular events for people, at home, away from home or at work.

website : www.passonapoem.com is there to support and to stimulate participation by existing and potential readers and listeners. It provides source material relating to poems, poets and poetry, advice on reading aloud and starting a group, and up-to-date information on recent and forthcoming events, venues and local groups. The development of a truly democratic online anthology is one of several exciting search features. Details of all poems read at pass on a poem events are posted. Visitors to the site are invited to submit their own suggestions for the poetry pages, and to send in information about their own poetry-related activities, a selection of which can be advertised on the news and events or resources pages. Subscribers can opt to receive a free weekly poem.

I.T. assistance for Pass On A Poem is provided by Klein Computer Services






Poem of the Week


by Elizabeth Smither

click here to view titles of previous poems of the week

Reports of recent readings.

Celebrity reading: Craig Raine, Fiona Shaw, Richard Dawkins,Salley Vickers,Jon Snow, Mariella Frostrup, Alex James, P.D.James,Joan  Bakewell, Harry Eyres.

Subscribe by email to the FREE poem of the week



Notting Hill: next reading 23 April

Bedford: next reading 29 April

Sheen: next reading 12 May

Acton: next reading 1 June

Chiswick: next reading 5 June

Edinburgh: next reading 5 June

Tooting: next reading 6 June

Bath: next reading 10 June

Oxford Blackwells: 11 June

Retford: next reading TBC

Wollaton: next reading TBC

Ealing: next reading TBC

Wiltshire: next reading TBC

Oswestry: next reading TBC

Manchester: next reading TBC

Irvine: next reading TBC

(Contacts: see 'news and events / next reading')




Click here to submit poems to read at forthcoming events and your suggestions for the poetry pages of the website



VOICES FROM THE WORLD IN WORDS OF POETRY: Read you own poems of poems by your favourite poets. Sat 5th April, 7.30 to 9pm at Espacio Gallery, 159 Bethanl Green Rd. London E2 7DG. www.espaciogallery.com. Contact THIAGO: goathidrenaxela@gmail.com

BANG SAID THE GUN: live every Thursday evening at the Roebuck, Dover Street. The oldest poetry event in London; it's been going for 30 years. 'It's like mud wrestling only with words'


KEATS COMMUNITY LIBRARY: Latest news and events - http://www.keatscommunitylibrary.org.uk/news.php

Forward Prizes for Poetry: Michael Symmons Roberts has won the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection for Drysalter (Cape). http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/forward-prizes-for-poetry/forward-prizes-2013/

Emily Berry won the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for Dear Boy (Faber)  http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/poet/emily-berry/

The Poetry School: The UK's largest provider of poetry education

Find out about the Poetry School's fully interactive on-line courses. http://www.poetryschool.com/

T.S.Eliot Prize 2014:

Winner - Sinead Morrissey for Parallax 

Forward Arts Foundation:


Griffin Poetry Prize 2013: Canada's most generous poetry awardhttp://www.griffinpoetryprize.com/news-and-events/events-and-important-dates/

BBC Radio 3 Night Waves:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tp43

Pighog Press, Brighton: Award winning poetry publisher founded in 2002. See website for news and events - www.pighog.co.uk/

Poets & Players: imaginative programming of complementary arts. Poetry with music, dance & visual arts in a number of striking settings in Manchester, particularly the Whitworth Art Gallerypoetsandplayers.co/

THE POETRY LIBRARY: at Royal Festival Hall, SouthBankCentre, Belvedere Rd;, London SE1 8XXhttp://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/

SCOTTISH POETRY LIBRARY: 5 Crichton's Close, Ediburgh EH8 8DT. 0131 587 2876





A collection of the best poems of the year from the Forward Poetry Prizes

WINNING WORDS (2012): Inspiring poems for everyday life: chosen and introduced by William Sieghart; with a foreword by Sebastian Faulkshttp://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/winning-words/9780571290123

NEW LIGHT FOR THE OLD DARK: by Sam Willetts.London: Cape Poetry 2010. Shortlisted for the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize. Nominated for the Forward and Costa Prizes

DEAR BOY: by Emily Berry, Faber & Faber 2013

Winner of the Felix Dennis Prize for best first

collection 2013 (Forward Arts Foundation)



Carcanet Press: http://www.carcanet.co.uk

To receive a free weekly e-letter, contact: info@carcanet.co.uk to

The Poetry App: Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation. Over 100 poemshttp://www.makeuseof.com/tag/josephine-hart-poetry-foundation-launches-the-poetry-app-updates/

POETRY EVERYWHERE: short films on iTunes and YouTube - www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere




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