Celebrating Poems As Friends

“A powerful and unique way to engage with poetry for wider audiences”

– Professor. Elizabeth Alexander.


Through conversations, live events, our online catalogue and podcast, we capture the insights of readers and share them. We work with poets, actors and artists to explore poems and what they mean to us.

Supported by funding from Arts Council England


More About The Poetry Exchange:

The Poetry Exchange offers a distinctive approach to the exploration and presentation of poetry – a new space somewhere between literary reading, spoken word and performance poetry.


Poetry exchange


At the heart of the project is THE EXCHANGE – A special invitation for people to nominate a poem that has been a friend to them. A poet and an actor from the team set up an informal ‘booth’ where people are invited to join us, have a cup of tea and talk about the poem that has been a friend to them. In return they receive a gift, a unique recording of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation and their thoughts about the poem.


Nominate on-line or visit our events page to see where you can next visit The Poetry Exchange in action. Other events include – The Live Catalogue – a presentation of poems as friends for a small audience,Voices of Friendship – a selection of recordings from the catalogue curated through sound installation and Skills Exchange workshops for poets, actors and readers.


‘What an amazing project. The workshop proved that poems aren’t only friends but the best kind – surprising, nourishing, and sometimes challenging. It was fantastic to be introduced to so many different voices’ – Sarah Salway.   The Poetry Exchange Podcast


Our podcast provides the chance to listen in to these conversations about poems as friends and to hear the poems read in response to the conversations. Subscribe now to receive the latest episodes as soon as they are released: on iTunesPocket Casts or another podcast catcher.

Sign up to our mailing list below for updates on our podcast and programme of events.


Who We Are

Fiona Lesley Bennett: Fiona is an award-winning creative practitioner, facilitator and published poet. Her work has featured in journals in the UK and USA, on BBC radio 3’s The verb and she has been shortlisted in the Bridport and Much Wenlock Poetry competitions. She has over 20 years experience designing unique interventions that create a different kind of encounter between artists and audiences. She is co-director of The Map Consortium, a pioneering company designing and delivering creative interventions across sectors. Her work includes collaborations with leading cultural organisations in the UK, the USA, India, Japan and Europe.


Michael Shaeffer – Associate Director

Michael has worked as an actor for 20 years, across theatre, TV, film and radio. His recent work in the theatre has focused on new writing, including, How To Hold Your Breath; Mr Burns; Little Revolution; Table and London Road. His Film credits include, London Road; London Fields; Trance and Anna Karenina. And for TV, SS-GB; Grantchester; Foyle’s War; Luther; Parade’s End; Black Mirror and Game of Thrones.


Working Collaboratively: The Poetry Exchange is delighted to have been able to feature the work of Elizabeth Alexander, Carol Ann Duffy, Derek Walcott and Dan Chelotti on the podcast. We are also very proud to collaborate with the following Associate Artists: Jacqueline Kington, Michael Shaeffer, Subhadassi and Natasha Gordon.


Partners: The Poetry Exchange is partnering with Spread The WordWorkers Of Art and New Writing North on a series of events this year made possible through an Arts Council England award.


Funded by:

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