ONLINE poetry courses led by Hampshire Poet Kathryn Bevis have proved a big hit with aspiring poets during the lockdown.

The Poetry for Wellbeing courses were launched by charity Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) and designed by Bevis as a way for those new to poetry to express themselves and write about what is important to them in a positive and encouraging forum. As well as presenting an opportunity for participants to develop a new skill, the courses were run to create a sense of community, connection and belonging at a time of social isolation.

The live, online courses are being delivered free of charge and are part of HCT’s Brighter Futures programme, which is funded by Hampshire County Council’s Adult Community Learning programme, Hampshire Achieves. The courses run twice a week for five weeks, with Bevis teaching participants how to translate their thoughts and feelings into poetry on the page and then mentoring them to make sure their poems are as good as they can be.

Seventeen of the poems produced by group participants have been recorded by Bevis and are available to experience at Culture on Call, HCT’s new digital publication launched to connect communities and culture during the lockdown, will also feature Kathryn Bevis reading her poem Devil Day, which was the winning entry in the 2019 Poets and Players competition and has since been published on Words for the Wild.

Deborah Neubauer, Head of Community at HCT, commented: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the response to the programme. Even after adding more courses than we were originally planning to run, we still haven’t been able to offer places to everyone who has enquired due to the high demand. At a time when many people are feeling isolated because of the lockdown, the courses have really hit a need, providing participants with a chance to be creative, add structure to their day and learn a new skill, but most importantly, to meet people online and feel part of a community."