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“Battle of the Somme” Centenary – Collaboration Opportunity with Simon Barraclough

Attention all – we have a new opportunity to announce!

From 2014-18, a huge range of cultural activities are taking place across the UK to mark the centenary of the First World War. The focus of 2016’s commemorations is the Battle of the Somme – or the film of the same name that was released in 1916. The documentary is significant as an early example of film propaganda, an historical record of the battle and as a popular source of footage illustrating the First World War. The film’s impact was profound enough to completely change the cinema-going habits of the British population as well as changing their views on war.

Simon Barraclough, one of the Poetry School’s ever-popular tutors, is a poet with a deep love and knowledge of film. Film informs his writing thoroughly, from his poem ‘We’ll Always Have CGI Paris’ to his multi-media collaborative event Psycho Poetica .

The Poetry School’s contribution to the UK-wide cultural commemorations will be a screening of the Battle of the Somme film followed by a performance of new poems that it inspires. We want to recruit 8 to 10 poets to work with Simon on a new collaborative response to the film. The new work will be performed alongside a public screening of the film at Lambeth’s fascinating Cinema Museum in in early February 2017.

This project aims to provide professional development training for poets who want to learn how to write collaboratively for performance, an opportunity for poets who want experience of responding to historical events – whether those events are directly or indirectly connected to their own lives – and stimulus to create new poems.

The project will be in three parts: a private screening of the film for participants and a briefing at the beginning of December, a two-month writing period during which time participants will gather online (in CAMPUS) to discuss progress, and a one-day rehearsal in February followed by a public screening of the film and a performance of the new poems.

Might we recruit you? Read on for details – we look forward to inspecting your applications!

Who We Are Looking For

  • Poets writing at an advanced level (which the Poetry School defines as a person ‘confident about what you want to say and how you want to say it … on your way to a pamphlet or a first collection’). You do not need to have already published a pamphlet or collection.
  • Poets capable of writing to a brief, with a particular audience in mind. You do not need to have experience of working in this way.
  • Poets who are happy performing in front of an audience, and are willing to work with a bit of stage direction.
  • Confident users of online technology.
  • We are particularly keen to hear from people who feel they have lacked opportunities to develop their poetry in the past for reasons of social circumstances or background.

How To Apply

  • In no more than 500 words please outline why you are interested in the opportunity, and how you would approach it.
  • Include links to relevant work – poetry and prose.
  • Include a current CV.
  • Apply to Julia Bird, Creative Director of the Poetry School – [email protected]
  • Title your email ‘Somme Screening Application [Your name]’.
  • Title your document ‘Somme Screening Application [Your name]’ – one document only please – 500 words / links / CV all in one document, thank you.


  • Applications must be submitted by midnight on Friday 18 November 2016.
  • Shortlisting will be carried out by Julia Bird of the Poetry School and Simon Barraclough.
  • Week beginning 2 December – successful participants notified.
  • December 12 (tbc) – film screening and briefing at the Poetry School.
  • January 20 2017 – deadline for produced poems.
  • February 4 – day long rehearsal and evening performance at the Cinema Museum.

Terms and conditions

  • There is no fee payable by participants for this activity.
  • There are no expenses payable to participants by the Poetry School for this activity.
  • Because we need to cover our costs with the Cinema Museum, we will be unable to offer complimentary tickets to anyone other than performers for the February 4 event.
  • After the conclusion of the projects, the selected poets are of course free to publish the poems created as part of the residency, but the Poetry School must be acknowledged with an agreed credit line.

NB – a planned version of a paid-for taught course based on this idea was due to run in the Autumn term. This is a new project based on the same idea, and is not a taught course.

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