If you happen to see a perplexing plum bicycle or black and violet post box when wandering the streets of Oxford, don’t be concerned, Oxford isn’t remodelling itself into a purple city. These flashes of purple in the city aim to bring more than just colour, they represent the work of the Oxford Poetry Library (OPL) – a bicycle-driven, travelling library voluntarily run by a group of poetry devotees. This zany group are sharing their passion for the spoken word by free lending pamphlets, zines and anthologies for kids and adults alike. Launched in April 2017, the moving library can regularly be found attending local events such as the Oxford Farmers & Community Market. They have become a part of the community, arranging poetry and music events to showcase local talent to the public.
Promoting creativity and inclusiveness are key aims of the OPL and they are spreading this message with their recent project – The Women and Trans Reading Group. This new group welcomes all women, trans and non-binary individuals to share poetry, prose and improve writing skills. The members of the OPL are also keen to encourage poetry in young audiences which they have recently demonstrated at a poetry-themed craft workshop for pre-schoolers, with colourful sock puppets and a few acting performances to capture kids’ imaginations.
Among their other events, the OPL have announced new upcoming meeting sessions in collaboration with Open House (a project which raises awareness of homelessness). The meetings will be orientated around a poetry-themed social space with a poet-in-residence and books and games to entertain. The sessions are set to start on 5th December, 2018 and continue on Wednesdays from 10am until noon, so if you are looking for a space to sit, talk poetry and relax in a friendly environment then this seems an opportunity too good to miss.
Just when you think that this poetry-crazed group must have their hands full, they still manage to make special mention of a book in their collection each week. ‘Book of the week’ is a feature of their website in which they share a specific work that has had a profound effect on a reader or is symbolic to the current time. This feature gives a detailed account which is particularly beneficial to anyone who doesn’t read poetry regularly and wants a good quality pick.
Raising awareness of influential poetry and organising engaging events for the local community are welcome sights to see on the streets of Oxford, let’s hope that the OPL continues to promote and inspire.
If you’d like to show your support for the OPL then you can donate books or make a monetary contribution. As a volunteer-based organisation, any support is a big help and goes towards expanding their collection, maintaining the library and spreading the word. Furthermore, you can choose to adopt a book for £10, a package, which includes your name being inscribed on a bookplate in the front of your chosen book and an OPL badge being sent to your door. If you’d like to find out more about the OPL or you’d like to know where they will be next then visit their website at https://oxfordpoetrylibrary.wordpress.com/.