It’s here! Oxford is My Home: The Lockdown Edition

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In my last post, I called for submissions for our latest issue of ‘Oxford is My Home’: The Lockdown Edition.

To be honest, we had no idea whether we’d get enough contributions to put the zine on. So we were bowled over by the number and range of people, who chose to send in their creative expression about what life in Oxford has been like during the coronavirus. We received such a diverse collection of ideas: ranging from prose to poetry, photography, cartoons, fine art, videos, and even an interactive story.

Over the last month, we’ve been working hard to collate these into an online publication which LAUNCHES TODAY! Check out this very special community zine here.

Spending so much time with these pieces, looking for their common threads, gave me a much needed sense of connection to lives around Oxford during this time of isolation. I’ve tried to articulate this in the Editorial which you can read here.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this creation. This doesn’t end have to end now – if you would like to contribute then please get in touch with us at the Oxford Poetry Library website.

If you are aged 13-25 then you can also contribute to our sister publication – ‘Youth in Lockdown’ which is being launched soon by the inspiring Oxford Discovery College.

Fancy a Poem for Breakfast?

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Are you tired of waking up to headlines about coronavirus? Why not start your day off by reading a poem instead? Enter…..’Poems for Breakfast’!

One of the best things about moving to Oxford was discovering the wondrous pedal-powered ‘Oxford Poetry Library’. It’s run by powerhouse Phoebe Nicholson and a committed group of volunteers, of which I’m one. Our vision is that by bringing poetry into the local community, we want to introduce as many people as possible to the joys and benefits of reading poems, as well as nurture the existing community of writers and readers around the city.

I’ve been involved for the last couple of years delivering writing workshops to the Oxford community. As you can imagine, coronavirus has put a stop to many of the activities we had scheduled.

So we’re using our free time to bring poetry to the community in a virtual format.

One of these initiatives is super simple – you can sign up to receive a poem in your inbox every morning. We’ve had amazing feedback so far about how people have find this a bright and uplifting way to start their day, so necessary during this crisis. So, if you fancy a poem for breakfast….

Find out more here!

The Covid-19 Quaranzine: Stories of ‘Home’ from Behind Closed Doors

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As a result of Covid-19, our homes have transformed. Bedrooms have become offices, living rooms have become classrooms, gardens have become gyms, and every house has become a cage of sorts.

Some people without a home have found one whilst others have been evicted, and many, many people live with the uncertainty of not being able to afford to keep theirs.

‘Oxford is My Home’ is a zine produced by Oxford Poetry Library and Open House which uses words and pictures to tell the hidden stories of housing and homelessness in Oxford and what it means to call this city ‘home’.

For our third issue, we want to know what #StayatHome looks like for you? How are you spending your days? Who are you with? Are you enjoying yourself? What are you worried about? What do you miss about being able to leave your home?

Submissions are now OPEN for contributions to the zine. You can submit poems, stories, pictures, comic strips, or any other creative reflection which you can figure out a way of getting to us.

You can:

– Email us at oxfordismyhomezine@gmail.com

–  Ring us on 0800 0096754 and leave a message and we’ll transcribe your story or poem

The deadline is 11 May.

Please keep written submissions within 500 words. For any questions contact oxfordismyhomezine@gmail.com

Stuck for inspiration? Why not try one of these easy exercises alone, or with others to get your creative juices flowing!

Writing a Poem

Start with the phrase ‘What happened today?’ and then keep writing non-stop for 3 minutes. Don’t think too hard about what you write because this is just to get started and see where your mind takes you. You don’t even need to try and make it like a poem. The only aim is to keep writing for the full 3 minutes.

Look back at what you wrote. Find one word, sentence or phrase that you particularly like. Could this be a start of a poem?

Explore your chosen words. Are there other words which mean something similar or the opposite? Does this word rhyme with anything else? This will lead you to the next line.

Try using all 5 senses – smell, touch, taste, sight and sound to bring your poem to life.

Remember: there are really no rules to what make a good poem. They might rhyme or they might not. They might be long or short. The most important thing is to enjoy writing!

Short Stories

Think about the experiences you have had when living in isolation – was there something funny, upsetting, uplifting or unexpected which happened to you?

Stories also allow us to explore alternative realities. Perhaps you would like to change what happened in real-life. Ask yourself ‘what else could have happened’ or ‘wouldn’t it be funny if’ and see if this changes where your story goes.

You can also try making up a character. What if your experience happened to someone completely different? Maybe they are a different age to you, a unique job, or have a personality flaw. What would they do differently in this situation?

A story only needs three things – a beginning, a middle, and an ending. What would be a good place to start and to end your story?

Life-Writing

This is where you simply write about what you are experiencing in your life now. These ideas might help to get started:

  • Write a letter to your future self – what would you like them to remember about what is happening right now?
  • Write a letter to an alien – imagine you are describing your situation to someone who has no knowledge of what is happening on Earth today

Interview Yourself. Imagine you were interviewing a stranger about what it is like to live in self-isolation. Write down all the questions you might like to ask them. Then answer them yourself!

Community Playmaker – I want to read your play!

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As Covid-19 closed the doors of Oxford Playhouse, they have opened their arms to the community.

I was fortunate enough to be one of six playwrights chosen for the 2020 ‘Playhouse Playmaker’ which is funded by the Oxford Playhouse. Our group meets once a month where we spend the day receiving tuition from playwright Clare Bayley, and then provide feedback on each other’s plays, which we’re each developing across the programme. Normally, we’d finish off by eating pizza, to fuel up before watching that night’s show at the Playhouse.

When Corona struck, things changed a bit. No more free pizza & theatre. Our sessions moved from the ‘Green Room’ to Skype. And, more importantly, we were able to give back to the Playhouse from the investment they’ve made in our careers.

The Community Playmaker is an opportunity for any budding playwright to send a script in & receive detailed feedback – some of which will be from me! I’m reading a script a week and loving being able to support other writers to develop their vision.

Alongside my fellow Playmakers, I’ve written a blog for anyone who is setting out to write their first play. You’ll find it on the Community Playmaker website here, where you can also learn about how you can get involved.

Happy writing folks!