Are you a poet who doesn’t know it?

Poppy Medenis introduces a local poetry group in Palmers Green

Budding poets at a 'People with Voices' session at Palmers Green Library
Budding poets at a ‘People with Voices’ session at Palmers Green Library

People with Voices was inspired by the weekly writing circles known as ‘The Microphone Sessions’ which Leila Steinberg hosted in San Francisco’s Bay Area in 1989.

I read about these writing circles in the book The Rose that Grew from Concrete, which includes all the poems that Tupac Shakur wrote, aged 19, at these events.

When I first discovered this book, I began to write poems, as it changed the way I approached poetry. Tupac showed me that poetry could be accessible, alive, and a tool to process the world around us. I began writing to please myself, using it as a tool for expression and to make my thoughts visible on paper.

This is what I find so liberating about poetry: it is shorter than a story and less hassle than a diary entry. A story seems to have to be a certain length and structure and a diary requires you to include certain details, yet to me, a poem has no rules. The shape of it, sound of it, size of it, are all within your hands. People with Voices champions the idea that there is no right or wrong poem and that the key measure of a poem’s success should be what you gained from writing it: release, enjoyment, a shift in your mood, a discovery, a question.

Last month marked the four-year anniversary of People with Voices, which began in 2018 in the community room of Palmers Green Library and built on the hope of creating a space for collective joy through writing. Since then, the club has met most months and continued to develop, with both new and regular faces coming together to create, in response to themes such as belonging, beginnings and balance.

People from the ages of eight to 84 years old, those who have never written before, and those who are published authors, share both the library space and an insight into their minds, ideas, and ways of seeing the world.

My favourite moments are when people realise that there has been a poem sitting inside of them the whole time, long before they stepped through the doors of the workshop. People with Voices is simply the space that exists to begin each person’s discovery, whether they come along to listen, talk, scribble, draw or write.

People with Voices runs free sessions on the first Saturday of every month at Palmers Green Library. Find out more on social media:
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@wearepeoplewithvoices