Ann Sansom is Writing Tutor at Doncaster Women's Centre. Her book of poetry, Romance, is published by Bloodaxe. She has previously published three small press collections and has written and directed two plays for Yorkshire Women's Theatre. She has been writing tutor for the Arvon Foundation, the WEA, Lindholme Prison and Kirklees Community Writing Programme.
A poet to work for 10 days with the local community to raise the profile of Houghton Hall Park, as part of the Urban Parks Regeneration Programme. While the park is of natural and historic interest, it was (at the outset of the project) seen as inaccessible and unwelcoming. The poet will work with local community members to explore through poetry what the park means to them, its history and its development from private ownership to public space. It is hoped that this project will form the cornerstone of a sustained programme of poetry work in the district.
The participatory sessions in schools were easy to set up and very successful in giving young people a chance to write their own poetry and in raising awareness of the Park. The community sessions proved much more difficult to organise, primarily because there were so few existing groups that could be approached as a starting point. The project developed as the local park ranger became involved. A series of postcards was produced with lines of poetry from local school children and photographic images from the Park. These were distributed to shops, community centres, council offices and the library and the response was very positive.
The Poetry Place gave us the opportunity to work with an inspirational workshop leader in Ann Sansom. Under her guidance, young people surpassed their own and their teaching staff's expectations to create poems that reflected the beautiful surrounding of our new park. The project was very successful in building awareness of the Park and anectodal evidence tells us that the Postcards adorn desks, offices and homes throughout the area.
Following this project we are assisting a local poet (Gavin Stewart) to initiate a project to be based at another Lower school in our District. Initially a one off INSET day for teaching staff, he hopes that this work will expand to form a more permanent relationship between poet and school.