A year in poetry: Nottingham Poetry Exchange

Lauren looks back at Nottingham Poetry Exchange’s range of poetry readings and writing opportunities for students during the academic year.

Nottingham Poetry Exchange is a programme of poetry seminars, workshops and readings held across campus and in the city during each academic year. This year has seen Nottingham Poetry Exchange host a poetry open mic for students and publish their first zine: Voices.

The programme is run by the assistant professor in Creative Writing Lila Matsumoto with support from the School of English. Each year Nottingham Poetry Exchange offers placement opportunities to students in the School of English. Both the open mic Lunch Poems and the Voices zine were organised and developed by the spring semester placement students.

This year has seen a variety of poetry events on campus and elsewhere in Nottingham. Most events take the form of readings from published poets, followed by question and answer sessions. These have included the poet Sam Buchan-Watts and the writer Helen Jukes who gave a talk on her experience writing a memoir about keeping bees.

Five Leaves Bookshop also work closely with Nottingham Poetry Exchange to host events. One of this year’s highlights was the prose poetry event featuring Jeremy Noel-Tod, the editor of The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, alongside guest readings from local poets and poets from the School of English, Matthew Welton and Lila Matsumoto.

Nottingham Poetry Exchange also host seminars each semester to discuss a poet. I attended one of the seminars, only knowing the poet under discussion, Jorie Graham, by name. But after an evening of reading and discussions, I’d discovered a new poet and learnt about lyric poetry.

“Many students had never performed their work before, taking the opportunity to give open mics a go.”

Alongside these regular events, another highlight of this year has been Nottingham Poetry Exchange’s promotion of student poetry. In March, the spring semester placement students hosted an open mic, Lunch Poems, named after Frank O’Hara’s famous poetry collection.

The turn out at Lunch Poems was high and the open mic saw lots of people sign up. Many students had never performed their work before, taking the opportunity to give open mics a go.

In response to the amount of students with poems to share, Nottingham Poetry Exchange asked for submissions to their first zine, which was released in May.

Their zine Voices offers just that: a voice for students at the University of Nottingham to showcase their poetry. Voices was edited, produced and distributed by the spring placement students. All of the chosen poems are precise, containing evocative word choices and striking layouts. From regular stanza lengths to unconventional formats, prose poems to rhyme schemes, the zine showcases an impressive range of student work.

When asked about her experience as a placement student for Nottingham Poetry Exchange, Holly Humphreys said that: “Being part of the Nottingham Poetry Exchange has been a really exciting and engaging experience.”

“It has allowed me to be part of a creative community, both within the university and in Nottingham as a whole- and to get to watch some amazing poets. I especially enjoyed the open mic Lunch Poems as it gave me a glimpse of what the future of poetry in Nottingham might look like.”

For any budding poets at the university, Nottingham Poetry Exchange is a great way to get involved in the local poetry community, on and off-campus, and expand your knowledge of published poets.

For more information about next year’s events, you can sign up to the Nottingham Poetry Exchange mailing list by emailing

Lauren Winson

Featured image courtesy of Lauren Winson. Article images courtesy of Nottingham Poetry Exchange via Instagram. Image use licence here.

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