Poetry Project

“We are friendly and together in thrall to lines and rhyme. We talk only poetry. We are eager to explore it, understand it, discuss it. It seems to be something that comes from inside us, articulates to a wider nation those things that need to be said. Power is in the room. It’s familial. There is no thing that won’t inspire us. We have our words, our voices speak, our ideas appreciated.” Rich Downes, Disability Arts Online

Colour photograph of two women smiling and eating.

Poets at the Pop-Up Poetry Cafe on 1 December.

From 26 November to 1 December 2012 we organised a Poetry Week with Cooltan Arts, produced by Sarah Hughes. From Monday to Friday, service users were invited to a series of workshops at the Hub in Canning Town, covering every aspect of poetry, from writing and performing to pod-casting and publishing. On Saturday, an open workshop for all disabled people was held at the Garden Cafe in Custom House, before the Week’s participants joined together to perform their poems at a Pop-Up Poetry Cafe that evening. The project will be continuing in 2013. Click here to read the full text of Rich Downe’s review on Disability Arts Online, and read some of the poems created during Poetry Week below.

For me, Jesus is the music

When my mind feels empty and I hate that emptiness,
I lose myself in the melody
And I love that.
When my soul is heavy and I hate that heaviness,
I saturate my soul with singing
And I love that.
When my thoughts are dead and I hate that dead feeling,
I find energy in the beat
And I love that.
When I feel confused and I hate that confusion,
I kick my feet to the rhythm
And I love that.
When my feelings are distant and I hate that distance,
I drown myself in tune
And I love that.
When chaos is in my spirit and I hate that chaos,
I let the music lift my mood
And I love that.

For me, Jesus is the music.

Sarah Hughes

A Good Night Out

I thought ‘so what’, I’m doing it!
Two of them slid down easy peasy
Laughter, giggles and jokes. What fun!
Good company, good food, good times.

I thought ‘why’? Never again.
Two of them slid down, bitterly
Noise, blurriness, hunger, not fun.
Still, good company, good food, good times.


Depression Mood

This depression drags you down,
Your mood makes you irritable.
You feel angry.
So much you’re worrying about things
You just want to hide away from the world.
Life seems so strange.

Dawn Barber

Other People’s Poetry

What do people experience when writing poetry?
It can elevate the mind,
It can rhyme, inspire, plunge you into fantasy.
It can be romantic
It can be soft and gentle
It can be timeless, ageless, short or long.
Description can change the mood from despair into bliss,
Can rhyme from childhood to old age
And is always new like a new day.

John C. Simmonds 

My Dearest Friend

My Dearest Friend,
With a laugh like fire
And a mind as sharp as barbed wire

With an endless thirst
And limitless drive
You’ll change the world
I’m sure of that.

You’re one of a kind
But now you only exist within my mind.

Paul Batton

Going Shopping

I have just opened my front door
Pouring down with rain
Up goes umbrella
I am so fed up with this lousy weather!
I hold my umbrella tight walking down the street
As the wind blows hard on me
Cans blow along the street
And the leaves blow attacking my feet
How I hate this lousy weather!

Dawn Barber

Because I know why

Why then if I’m not coming, why should I?
Because if you’re not coming, then I’m not going!
How could I go without you?
I know you don’t want me to come.

Then I saw her face
Was she smiling at me?
There was, I’m sure, a glint in her eyes.
Who is she?

So you never knew him
When things got tough you ran to him
If it hadn’t been for him
It would all be OK now.

Creator, give me the wisdom to know
Universe—things and how they operate.
Love has a boundary that goes beyond
Perfect is the Creator’s understanding about us.


Moving On

Going to different places
Living independently
Going places that never been before
Going on holiday.


I Want

More street lights in the park and resident
More skips in the street or park
To make it easier for the people
Who is collecting rubbish
More benches in the park
More chairs and bus shelters in the bus stop
More trains and buses.


Food For Thought

I love waking up in the morning
Crunching cereal with milk, tea brewing, toast and marmalade.
I hate washing up.
Half-way through the day—hungry again.
Food—I love it!
Bangers and mushy peas.
Oh, no more washing up.
I hate it.
Tea time
Cakes and drinks
I love it.
I hate washing up, even a cup
Food in my stomach—full up again.
I love it!
I hate washing up—think I’ll leave it for tomorrow.
A perfect day
except for washing up.
I hate it.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are like a rollercoaster
They go up and down
You feel so tired
No energy
Your mind is racing with thoughts.

Dawn Barber

Knock! Knock!

Knock! Knock!
It’s a quarter past twelve.
Why do you knock?
My mind is nervous, I’m thinking this is curious.
Why don’t you leave me alone!

Knock! Knock!
It’s a quarter to one.
Why do you knock?
My mind is panicked, I’m thinking I’m angry.
Why don’t you leave me alone!

Knock! Knock!
It’s half past three.
Why do you knock?
My mind is furious, I’m thinking this is serious.

Sarah Hughes


When I was a little girl I wanted to fly
Because my Godmother took me to see Peter Pan
I thought that if I believed hard enough in fairies
They would sprinkle fairy dust on me—
Now I spend my time looking for fairies.



Wrote to the House
Who built it? Why?

Wrote to the Queen,
Did not reply?

Wrote to the Sports Minister
Did go to House of Commons

Twice or once.

Why come out? Why come home?
Why come home? Why come home?
Why come home? Why is the answer?

Mark Sedowu

The Game

The way that winger dribbles with the ball
leaving the full back mesmerised with the drop of a shoulder
I love that
When the opposition striker cons the referee
and dives in the box to earn his team a penalty
I don’t like that
On a debate who is the best manager
The World Cup winning manager
The Premiership winning manager
Or the most likeable manager
I like that
So many skills can be done with that round leather ball
And so much aggression
Some players going out to deliberately hurt another player
I don’t like that
Goals is the name of the game
It’s the difference between winning and losing
I like that.

Terrance Edwards

Why is there WAR?

Because was fighting
How many weapons?
I need to know.

Then I saw her face
They were today
Who are they talking to?
Was I born here?

So do you like cookies?
When would it be cooked?
If only I was sweet sixteen age
It is all gone now.

Creator must be high
Universal is round
Love is God
Perfect is the world.

Mark Sedowo 

On Poetry

Poems tell our deepest feelings
Poems tell us how we feel
Poems take us on a journey
Poems help our wounds to heal.
Poems make us laugh out loudly
Poems mark our special times
Poems long and poems shorter
Poems with and without rhymes.

Ju Gosling aka ju90

Bottom’s Up

We gather round to the sound
of clinking glass and clacking pool balls.
We start with beer
To refresh after a hard day.
The taste lingers like dishwater.
I loathe it.
Tequila, salt and lime
Part of my five-a-day.
I love it.
Whiskey for me,
as we sit and smoke
enjoying the taste and conversation.
One of my favourites for inebriation.
It’s like an old friend, a long-lost brother.
Tequila, salt and lime
I love it.
A round of rum for everyone
As we shoot some pool and scream with laughter.
More Tequila, salt and lime
I love this.
A few brave souls reach for the Jagermeister
They hate the taste but I relish the feeling.
The last of the Tequila, salt and lime.
Everything’s all gone now, all that’s left is gin
I despise the taste but I’m too drunk to feel it.

Paul Batton 


I want to change the world of where I live
No more drugs and more easy read packs
More activities for people with disability
And more workshops like this.

Samantha Walker

Happy Memory

When I was growing up
My mum made me happy .
Also being creative.
Being with my friends.
Today I feel happy and relaxed to meet new people
Also, the cafe is a friendly place to come.

Samantha Walker 


When you live in hospital
Patient alike becomes part of your family day in day out
One goal is to get better
Become one family under one roof
One community
Things will soon get better with hospital family.
Yes, I believe.

Hospital family sometimes can be isolate
You wait until you are told things are getting better
You want the day when discharged date ring bell into your ear.
You see through your friends’ worries and anxiety
I believe one day all is goin to get better and start enjoying life again.


My Church

Tottenham Court Road
The centre of the earth!
Busy and chaotic
Jostling and frantic
My heart is expectant
My mind in excitement
The Dominion my goal
Oh what a show!
The singing and praise
And dancing and plays
The lights and the smoke
The uplifted folk
If ever I needed a special place to go
It’s Tottenham Court Road, Tottenham Court Road!

Sarah Hughes

There was no direction, no purpose in sight
No plan of action, just the daylight
Or the first shards of sunlight
Bringing in the new day.
As I stretched out my cane forward and made my way
Down an unfamiliar street
Pass unfamiliar homes
Listening out for the feet
For cries or groans
For the touch of a stranger
For a hand to lead me on
To the beach to the sand
To the kiss of the sun
The smell of the sea
The stroke of the wind
This world held me close
And caressed my skin.

Stephen Portlock 

Sunshine Poem

How I love the summer
When the sun shines down on me
So much energy
I  feel  more happy and not so sad
So roll on summer and I will be glad!

Dawn Barber

The Derby

Watching my beloved Spurs
The blue-and-white army chant in unison
The atmosphere is electric
Cross from the right
And the Spurs number nine leaps up in the air
The crowd holds its breath as he heads the ball past the stricken goalkeeper
The whole ground shakes in celebration
Of that one goal against our
Noisy neighbours from down the road.

Terrance Edwards

Extreme Tiredness

Clear thoughts
Organised time
Understood emotions
They are a thing of yesterday.

Screaming spirit
Encroaching limits
Struggling in it
They are a thing of now.

Mended friendships
Recreated opportunities
Possible peace and relationship
They are a thing of the future.

Sarah Hughes 


If I could change one little thing
It wouldn’t take a lot
To join us all together
And tie a lasting knot.

Ju Gosling aka ju90

Colour photograph of the open poetry workshop at the Garden Cafe on 1 December 2012.

The open poetry workshop at the Garden Cafe on 1 December 2012.