National Poetry Day
Published on 07 October 2021 12:16 PM
Words worthy of recognition
To mark International Day of Older Persons on 1st October and National Poetry Day on 7th October, we asked Keith Stringer, Bevan Crescent Community Group leader, Age UK Rotherham volunteer and keen amateur writer to compose a poem to share on National Poetry Day.
Back in March 2020, Keith wrote a poem called Isolation which explored the feelings of lockdown and its impact on the people in his community group. We were so impressed by his work that we featured it in on our website and in our Impact Report for 2020-21.
In his latest work, COVID Will we surrender? NEVER, Keith again took his inspiration from the community group. This time, it was after members shared their lockdown experiences, which for Keith highlighted the true meaning of friendship and companionship, during the worst days of the pandemic.
Lesley Dabell, Age UK Chief Executive Officer, said, ‘Keith, the rest of the group, and so many others like them, have shown great resilience and community spirit throughout lockdown. Bevan’s members have supported each other very well, ensuring no-one was left behind and that help, when needed, was just a phone call away.
‘Keith’s fabulous poems reflect the group’s strong spirit of togetherness and positive attitude at a very difficult and uncertain time. I’m sure his words will resonate with many people.’
Since 2013, Keith has had a key role in setting up and leading the group, which offers a variety of activities and companionship to combat loneliness and help improve the lives of older people in his local area.
When the pandemic struck in March 2020 and we went into lockdown, members could no longer safely meet in person and decided to suspend their meetings. Despite this, Keith stayed in regular contact with group members, ensuring that they knew they weren’t alone and made sure they could find help and support when they needed it.
In June 2021, the group resumed open air meetings and from July, after 16 months apart, restarted face to face meetings, with Covid safety measures in place.
The Bevan Crescent Group is an independent, volunteer-run group supported by Age UK Rotherham as part of our EngAge Rotherham affiliated groups programme.
National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the Forward Arts Foundation charity and promotes the enjoyment of poetry for all.
We asked Keith to tell us a bit more about his poetry and what inspires his writing.
How did you start writing poetry?
I can remember our teacher reading poetry when I was in junior school. One day I attempted writing a poem, the teacher then made me read it out to the class and I thought 'Aye I've found something I'm good at'.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The mood or situation I'm in or going through - sometimes, I go back in my memory, remember things, and then put my thoughts into words.
Who are your favourite writers?
The Bronte sisters have always inspired me to write. When I read any of their poems I can feel that I'm there in the times when they were alive. Every word written must have come from their hearts. Wordsworth was also a favourite of mine.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to try writing poetry?
Take your time before putting things on paper. Do a little research on your subject. Jot words and sentences down then, slowly but surely, your poem will take shape. Never be afraid to change words if you think another word sounds or fits better than the original.
Do you write anything else?
From time to time I write stories for both adults and children.
COVID Will we surrender? NEVER
It's a part of our lives that we'll never forget, it will stay in our memory we know, but yet it brought us together, our unity strong, we knew who we were and where we belonged.
It would have been easy to give up the fight, to draw the curtains and put out the light, but that's surrender, we couldn't do this, what? throw in the towel, no we gave that a miss
We batten the hatches with a positive mind, we wouldn't be beaten, no, we're not that kind.
Our communication stayed open, we were not alone, we knew if we weakened we could pick up the phone.
It was nothing new, we'd seen it before, hadn't we lived and survived through a war?
Oh yes, there were days when we felt insecure and maybe we wanted a knock on the door but that thought soon faded, our heads, we held high, we'd never give up nor we'd lay down and die.
Our strength came from unity, all for one, one for all, we'd face it together what ‘ere may befall.
It was at that time when our strength was renewed, it hadn't a chance when we were in that mood.
We're winning the battle, for we knew that we would, no need to panic, for all will come good.
We're proud of our efforts for why shouldn't we? For we're on our way now to victory.
But we're all being cautious, we're still watching out, this virus is evil, and it's still about. So, take our advice and still follow the rules, don't drop your guard and get caught like the fools. For the future's in your hands, don't follow like sheep. For you're not quite ready for the long, long sleep.
Watch Keith reading his poem here