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Barking and Dagenham poetry project allows imaginations to run free under lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:45 26 May 2020

You don't have to be a professional creative writer to take part. Picture: Carole Pluckrose

You don't have to be a professional creative writer to take part. Picture: Carole Pluckrose

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People have been invited to write “love letters to the world” to let their imaginations roam freely while stuck in lockdown.

Boathouse director Carole Pluckrose. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson)Boathouse director Carole Pluckrose. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson)

Members of the public have already seen their creative writing read online and posted on trees and benches around Barking and Dagenham to surprise and inspire passers-by.

The project is the brainchild of writers Claire Steele and Carole Pluckrose, who is artistic director of Boathouse Creative Studios in Abbey Road, Barking.

It is backed by funder Barking and Dagenham Renew and the Arts Council-funded Pen to Print creative writing programme.

Carole said: “It’s really taken off. They are like little gifts to the world from us who are stuck inside. Poetry has an amazing ability to take us into different worlds.

The project has seen people from the borough and around the world take part. Picture: Carole PluckroseThe project has seen people from the borough and around the world take part. Picture: Carole Pluckrose

“At the moment, when people are locked into their own spaces, imagination is essential. The writing is just flowing out of people.”

Boathouse Creative Studios has turned to online projects while the studio remains closed because of Covid-19.

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Love Letters to the World follows the opening of a virtual gallery and webinar about the work of artist Amy Jackson.

The Love Letters to the World project is one of a series of online arts activities from Boathouse Creative Studios. Picture: Carole PluckroseThe Love Letters to the World project is one of a series of online arts activities from Boathouse Creative Studios. Picture: Carole Pluckrose

It grew out of Carole’s daily poetry reading on social media which has gained a worldwide following.

“I thought it would be fun to encourage people to write from their solitude,” Carole said.

Funding meant the pair could stage online workshops with words and images put to paper before being being posted around the borough.

Budding writers and creative writing novices from as far away as Germany, South Africa and the USA have taken part with Carole offering a first line – such as, “I want to write to you about love” – before participants take over.

But one thing which isn’t clear is what the people who find the poems think of them.

“It’s like a message in a bottle. That’s part of the idea. You can’t expect to know how it touches people. You hope someone will get some pleasure from it. It feels like a precious gift being left,” Carole said.

Visit Love Letters to the World Creative Writing on Facebook or send submissions to Carole Pluckrose, Boathouse Creative Studios, 62-76 Abbey Road, Barking, IG11 7BT adding FAO Love Letters to the World.


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