I thought it was about time I wrote a little update regarding our progress with the Poetry Hub at the Oxford Spires Library.
Earlier this year, a group of creative writing students initiated a Learn to Lead project in the Library, by which they would transform an unused space into a comfortable, inspirational environment for reading and writing.
In the final few weeks of the last academic year, I met with the group (a mix of students from year 8 through to sixth formers, participating as much as they could between revision sessions and exams), and we managed to develop a proposal to take to the Principal, Mrs Croft. The proposal included a breakdown of their objectives and intended outcomes, including removal of the existing furniture (some dirty blue chairs), cleaning of the walls and carpets, and the purchase and installation of the new seating and lighting.
Mrs Croft was excited by our proposal, and was happy to fund labour and furniture from the Learn to Lead budget, with thanks to Oxford City Council.
Over the summer break, the brilliant site team removed a block of old wooden shelving along the back wall, and it was discovered that the wall behind it was not in a good state. As a result, the area required more cleaning and redecorating than expected; but I returned in September to rediscover that the carpet was a beautiful bright purple - a colour I hadn't seen before due to all the grime and dirt trodden in to it.
Through September, I caught up with all the Learn to Lead students to get their thoughts on the specific furniture they wanted in the Poetry Hub. They asked for a sofa, bean bags, new chairs, and space dividers, so they can block out the sounds of the students in the rest of the library and enclose themselves in privacy.
I have taken to ordering a little of the furniture at a time, so that we can see how it looks before we can add to it. But I am under full instruction from the students who keep coming to tell me what to do next - I have never been bossed around quite this much, and I love it!
The Poetry Hub is well on it's way to being an ideal space for creative writing and reading, though there is still work to be done. More furniture is on it's way, and Kate and I are still looking for sources to fund some new shelving and additional stock. But for ambitious perfectionists like our Learn to Lead Poetry Hub team, nothing is impossible.
Hopefully more news to follow soon!