The poem now arriving…

West Midlands Railway unveils poems for Shakespeare Line stations.

Rail passengers in the West Midlands now have a little extra inspiration and entertainment when travelling on the Shakespeare Line with the release of eighteen specially-written poems.

The poems have been penned by eighteen West Midlands writers and have been specially commissioned for each of the eighteen stations along the line, which runs from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon. Authors include five former Birmingham poet laureates and award-winning poets and writers.

Passengers can download the poems using the Overhear app on their mobile phones to listen to while on board the train, at the station or when they get home.

The project is called Poetry on the Shakespeare Line and is the brainchild of the Black Country performance poetry group Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists. Steve Pottinger, from the group, said: “These are poems of wit and humour, history and hope. Whatever your taste there will be something for you and we hope passengers will see the Shakespeare Line through fresh eyes once they have heard them.

“Some poems highlight the role of industry, the pleasure of travel, the spirit-lifting green spaces along the route and above all the importance of the Shakespeare Line in connecting people and communities.”

The project has been funded as part of the Your Community, Your Fund scheme, financed by the Department for Transport. Under the scheme, West Midlands Railway and sister company London Northwestern Railway will invest in dozens of community projects across the network over the coming months.

The poems represent the range of voices and the diversity and vibrancy of the West Midlands, and the poets have worked closely with ‘Friends’ of the stations, the volunteers who give their time freely to work on the landscaping and upgrade of their local stations.

The poets have created pieces which reflect the unique character of each of the locations, some focus on the history of a station while others respond to the environment around it.

Fay Easton, head of community and stakeholder for West Midlands Railway, said: “This project has been a joy to watch unfold. The commitment of the poets to really understand the locality and people has been inspiring. I am delighted the timing for the release of the poems is happening just as more passengers are beginning to return to rail.

“Poetry can magically bring people together and we are so pleased to have been able to support this project as we continue to celebrate and connect more closely with our local communities.”

The poems will be installed on station noticeboards later this year, together with the Pride of Place poem which thanks all of the volunteers and communities for their ongoing support for the railways.