We were curious how individuals in our campus community may be using poetry, so we decided to catch up with three University of Bath students who are part of a Poetry and Spoken Word group. We wanted to discover why they create poetry and what they thought of our recent exhibition Mariner, a show curated in response to one of the most influential poems in the English Language.
Mariner: A painted ship upon a painted ocean was inspired by language, rich visual metaphor and retold an old tale for the 21st Century. Made up of a variety of art forms from 14 different artists, the exhibition took Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as it’s starting point.
Although published in 1978, the themes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner poem resonate with issues we face today – from marine pollution to climate change, and the movement and migration of people across the seas to human vulnerability and isolation. This continued relevance demonstrates the power of poetry to speak about our world and human experience across generations, but also to inspire.
‘I think drawing inspiration from a piece which was written long before many of the issues addressed in the collection were prevalent, is a real display of creativity. I feel that the focus of humankind’s continual and swelling violation of our natural resources was captured by emphasising the dichotomy between man and beast, as with the albatross in the original piece.’ – Sam Dath
‘The exhibition’s art-works and commissions touch upon contentious topics such as post-colonial and environmental issues; connected and retold through the tale of the Mariner. What I took from this exhibition is that our present conditions are artefacts of historical contexts. I believe this is an important message to remember.’ – Monique McPherson
‘Art exhibitions are always hit and miss for me, you either find something you like or leave the exhibition a bit more confused than when you walked in. What caught my eye was the clothes strewn everywhere and what looked like a bed made out of oars and anchors.’ – Bashir Ahmed
‘Poetry provides an outlet for me to unite my thoughts and feelings, to explore my subconscious mind as a means of navigating who I am and who I am becoming. In this sense my poetry, through the months and years are a timeline of my personal development.’ – Monique McPherson
‘It’s like trying to compile lots of different sticky notes. You just write down your thoughts and try to make sense of them. The difference between people who write poetry and those who don’t, is that poets just happen to have a pen at hand when the idea comes around.’ – Bashir Ahmed
‘When I first started writing and performing, poetry represented a realisation of my emotions that I controlled by creating something from it. As I have gotten older and more experienced as an artist, I now think of it as an avenue to share my thoughts on issues I want to fight for or/and people whose stories I want to spread. While at first deeply personal, I now think of poetry as a way I can change my own little world, one word at a time.’ – Sam Dath
Bashir, Monique and Sam are part of a Poetry and Spoken Word Group at University of Bath, who look to perform at local events and develop as artists. From the local open mic nights such as Poetry+ and Raise the Bar, to participating in UniSlam, the biggest stage for university poets in the country. They also hope to set up a University of Bath open mic night in the future.
As the group looks to the end of the year and the start of the next, they are looking for more student poets and performers to get involved.
If you are interested in joining the student group please email Alex Homewood, University Arts Development Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org
To mark #InternationalPoetryDay we’ll be sharing poetry written and performed by Sam, Monique and Bashir on our Instagram.
Hear Bashir Ahmed’s poem written in response to Mariner: A painted ship upon a painted ocean below:
Header Image credits: The soul did from their bodies fly by Mary Evans, 2020, photo by Paul Blakemore