Poetry Pen Pals

Poetry Pen Pals – our first international project!

Poetry Pen Pals was an international poetry project run by The Courtyard’s Creative Ageing programme; which looked at the process of writing and sharing words in a creative exchange between two groups of older people in very different settings. We worked with a day centre in rural Herefordshire and a larger residential complex in Vancouver, Canada.

The aim of this project was to provide opportunities for older people to creatively engage and share with others internationally. We did this by creating and sending poems to the other group via post; creating a meaningful, fun, creative dialogue between the groups.

In Herefordshire we worked with an older people’s day centre in Kington, a small town on the Welsh border. The monthly sessions were run by Jenny Hope, an experienced poetry practitioner.

The Canadian facility has a group that meets weekly for creative sessions, and poetry is now the bi-weekly activity. They have created both individual and group poems.

Both groups worked on identifying themes, these included: Flags, the Monarchy, the local environment, personal histories, and seasonal traditions that we experience in our different corners of the world.

The project ran until March 2016, after which selected poems were chosen to create a set of poetry postcards, one set from each group. Postcards were chosen in the hope that they will act as a legacy for the project, and will encourage the further exchange of the written word as well as bringing the creative work of older people to new audiences.

This project has also inspired a similar project in the local market town of Leominster. Two nearby care homes are running a pen pals exchange project, residents creating cards and writing to each other. We are very proud that our work is inspiring other projects.

Poetry Pen Pals is part of the Creative Ageing programme and would not have been possible without the kind funding of Becket Bulmer.