The West Midlands will be overrun with an army of Shakespeare posties over 24 hours on Friday 22 April and Saturday 23 April, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
A veritable army of volunteers, including families and children, will come together to be part of this historic day and celebrate the most successful West Midlands writer of all time.
They will be hand-delivering over 1,000 poetry postcards to every resident of a Shakespeare Road, Street, Drive, Lane, Crescent or Close across the whole West Midlands, from Stoke-on-Trent to Hereford to Coventry, including the Birmingham conurbation.
The specially-commissioned and designed postcard will feature a Shakespeare sonnet on one side, and a new poem inspired by that sonnet by one of our best poets from the region on the other.
The Poet Laureate, Stafford-born Carol Ann Duffy, is one of the poets whose poems will appear on the postcards, as well as Birmingham-born Zaffar Kunial, former UK Canal Laureate Jo Bell and former Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane.
Commissioned and produced by Writing West Midlands, the Arts Council England-funded organisation which develops writing and reading in the region, the Shakespeare Street project came about as a novel way to celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy whilst highlighting current poetry talent in the area.
Abigail Campbell, programmer at Writing West Midlands, said:
“We wanted to celebrate Shakespeare, of course, in this big anniversary year, but we also wanted to take the opportunity to showcase great new writing from writers from and working in the West Midlands. We’re delighted to have a chance to bring great writing to people across the region who may not realise what literary talent is right here on their doorstep!”
The 4 living poets involved were all delighted to be part of Shakespeare Street, and lend their interpretation of a Shakespeare sonnet to the project.
Poet Jo Bell said:
“Shakespeare belongs to the world. But he belonged to the West Midlands first. He’s been famous for 400 years not through fashion but because he’s wise, funny and full of joy.”
Poet Roy McFarlane said:
“It was a pleasure to be asked to respond to one of Shakespeare sonnets, the thought of perusing through 154 sonnets and getting to know more about Shakespeare was a gift to a poet as such as me but more importantly as Germaine Greer once said he never tells you how to think. What he does say to you is: think.”
The Shakespeare Street volunteers will be hitting the streets on Friday 22 April and Saturday 23 April, across the region.
The Shakespeare Street project is made possible through support from Arts Council England and in-kind sponsorship from PCL Digital printers.