A former Walsall Poet Laureate is due to appear at Shrewsbury Food Festival on 4th September to champion mental health.
Alongside other Walsall poets including Phil Buckley, Tina Cox, Julia Dean-Richards, Angela Wood Maurice Malcolm and Elliot Parker there will be spoken word performances, workshops and a community poem on the theme of mental health in a specially dedicated gazebo.
The activities are free of charge, family-friendly and community-orientated. “COVID-19 has had a massive impact on all of us” explained Ian who was Walsall`s Poet Laureate between 2011 – 2015 “and it`s the greatest pandemic of our generation.
An invisible virus threatened to take away our jobs, homes, loved ones and our health. It was transmitted by people who – sometimes – had no symptoms and we all became afraid. Social distancing became an act of kindness and not hugging or sharing kisses became acts of love.”
Ian and and the other Walsall poets, who are calling themselves “Karma Unchained”, will be exploring people`s experiences throughout lockdown including anxiety, coping strategies, hope and the optimism that has brought them through the pandemic.
“None of us are getting paid” said Ian “but it is only 36 miles away and a chance to go out there and do some good for the community and celebrate what we have in our own community. It`s a platform for our own region and what we have been doing in lockdown. I am proud to be representing my home town”.
The team of Walsall poets were previously invited to perform at Mile of Smiles in Shrewsbury for a mental health charity in July.
They joined performers, acrobats, musicians and storytellers to put smiles on faces across a mile of Shrewsbury from the Castle to Quarry Park by the River Severn after lockdown had been lifted.
“We were proud to be invited” said Ian “and represent Walsall. Lockdown has been difficult for performers and opportunities to share what we do severely limited.
Although we have still performed on Zoom, WebEx and Facebook nothing compares to a real stage and a real audience.
We obviously made an impact because – for the first time ever – Walsall`s poets were invited to be part of the Food Festival alongside the chef displays, gin school, exhibitions and live music.”