Poetry and Place – read three poems written by Lewisham based poets

In London

When times are tough, it can be helpful to turn to art, and to look there for new ways of thinking, space, and comfort. Creative pursuits can give the sense of escapism, even when life feels very confined. Poetry and Place was a short poetry course led by award-winning poet Jamie Hale, exploring life in Lewisham and what we mean by home.

The project was for older and isolated people, especially those who had difficulty accessing events that are online (or in person) and was run entirely by post. It was funded by Lewisham Council.

Thinking about the idea of ‘home’ and how that relates to Lewisham past, present, and future, participants wrote poems that considered their space in various communities that make up our homes.

To mark the end of the course, with the writers’ consent, we are pleased to publish poems by three participants.

We are pleased to offer the course pack to download for free so you can take part in the exercises. You can find the course here: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/poetry-and-place-a-free-poetry-course-by-jamie-hale

Pat O’Dwyer: “Participating in Poetry and Place has been a very liberating experience.”

The Watcher

Lewisham 1830-Present

by Pat O’Dwyer


Would you care to meditate on a ramble with me?

Breathe fresh country air. Peacefully be

The wonders you might venture to greet.

A Lewisham path. Now the high street.

The cavalcade of summer. For perusal perchance?

Five trees masquerade. They sway and entrance.

Their leaves entwine. Forming one soulful face.

Great is the peace. In that lost place.

“That’s the Watcher!” Late locals wisely said.

Eyes shut. The Watcher watched. The landscape ahead.

A quaint country path. Glistening with trees.

Engulfed by fields of intoxicating peace.

You might find yourself. Admiring a cluster

Of enchanting trees. Enjoying fine muster.

You could be a Watcher. In a serene summer scene.

Meditating on a ramble. Where you might not have been.


Janet George: “I have been deeply challenged by partaking in this group – so much to learn and get to grips with! …Thanks for all the help from poetry and place for showing there’s always something to write about.”

Thought by Janet George

And what I want to write will stem from thought

Begin ideas I’ll not know I had

coming from home; followed all around

Desperate to get to grips with something good

Every aim from near to further off

Fraught with a tunnelled mind and much improved

Get to grips with something good, seizing the moment with what is truly right

Hoping to change my mind if that’s required

Instead of sticking only to one plan

Jumping about to see what may be there

Keeping it simple, not to get confused

Longing to find the truth or something new

Perhaps new information, maybe not,

Nothing that seems too difficult to think

Or that’s like going up the garden path

Planning some possibilities or not, pondering all

Queries till they further go

Right thinking holding nearer to the end

Same above all just writing to ever furl

Trite thinking patterns that just will not get

Understanding what will not work out

Very formative and coming to a head

When they will also want to speak the truth

Exaggeration damned and simplicity

You’re getting to the point and know it’s true

Zealous in interpretation of the facts

J Dudley: “I have been encouraged to write and enjoyed all the exercises. Your encouraging comments have spurred me on. Wish I could have been taught by teachers like you in the past.”

The River by J Dudley

The river flows gently by

Under the bridge so high

The sunlight on the water

Makes a ribbon sparkling with light

On the shore the ducks are resting

Under the shade of the trees

The sun is high in the sky

And the world slumbers in the heat

Slowly the sun begins its descent

And a gentle breeze blows by

The air is cooler now and evening is here

The birds sing their lullaby

The sunset with its beautiful hues

Will enthrall us with its loveliness

Home now we are content

We have spent a day by the river


Image: Lewisham High Street in the 1830s.

Published 15 February 2021