Readers helped create a poetry masterpiece

Sheila Hancock
Sheila Hancock
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Later this week, high above Portsmouth, actress Sheila Hancock will introduce an evening of poetry readings with a difference.

From the viewing platform of the Spinnaker Tower she will lead recitals of poems with a common theme – they will all be about the city stretching out beneath her and the audience.

The verses will come from the first anthology of poetry ever published which exclusively features work about this famous old city of ours.

And The News is proud to have played a key role in bringing the book to fruition.

We were one of the sponsors of This Island City: Portsmouth in Poetry which was published last autumn.

We saw it as another way of not only extending our involvement in the community but also furthering our support for the vibrant arts scene in the area.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the book it’s well worth it.

It’s not a dusty, crusty tome written in archaic language, but a book full of works which set the city in all its moods, most in everyday, down-to-earth language of the 21st century.

A couple of poems date from the 17th century and others are by Rudyard Kipling and WS Gilbert. There are also some from well-known contemporary poets – among them UA Fanthorpe, John Hegley, Stephanie Norgate, John Haynes, Tricia Torrington and Alan Ross.

But most of the poems are modern and capture Portsmouth in all its hues – from seedy to celebratory with everything in between.

Many of them have been written by ordinary people after we appealed in the paper for readers to have a go and write a poem. As a result the Portsmouth they depict is instantly recognisable. The event at the Spinnaker Tower is on Thursday at 7.30pm.