Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library


The  Poem of the North blog is a discussion point for poetry and all things poetical, the North and Northern-ness – and anything library-related.

Northern Chorus Blog image
Photo: Melanie Ashby

Northern chorus

Welcome to the Poem of the North; the works unfolding over the next few months are a celebration of the Northern Poetry Library’s 50th anniversary – there will be 50 poems, each with a Northern tilt. To find new poems we made an open callout, and the response was overwhelming.

The submitted poems have proven to be a beautiful and poignant chorus of Northern arrivals and departures, of families and found and lost fortunes, of memories and mythologies, of places, of accents and Northern dialects, of back lanes and hinnies, of sculleries and pinnies, of cityscapes and seaboard horizons, of bridges and rivers, boats and valley ridges, of field and kerbs and flowers.

We read the submissions anonymously over a weekend and the first opening of the files was like releasing a flock of singing birds. Because that’s what each poem is, a song, a voice – each one flying out through the artwork and into the world.

Regardless of which poems made the cut and those that didn’t, each submission made us proud of the notion of Northern-ness, and we were amazed by the breadth of interpretation of the theme. Many people wrote of loss and longing, of missing their version of the North, and of the loved ones they had lost. Some made us cry and resounded with a deep sadness. Others were funny, wry or fleet of foot.

The fifty published as part of Poem of the North are only a small selection of what we received; it is testimony to the Northern Poetry Library and the writers and readers who support it that this project could have run for more than two years had we been able to publish all the works we received. To each and every one of you who submitted we say thank you – and to each of you who stops a while to read we say enjoy these songs, spread the word and come back another day to read the next instalment.

Lisa Matthews – one third of the Poem of the North team – is a poet, writing scholar and collaborative artist. Inspired by her previous career in libraries and information services she devised the 8-2-1 form. Her fourth collection of poetry Callisto (Red Squirrel Press, June 2018) is her first made entirely of prose poems.

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