Stanza News

Poets in the Gallery

Louise Larchbourne and her Poets in the Gallery will return to the Ashmolean on Saturday 11th March in response to Dia al-Azzawi’s show Painting Poetry, open until June 11th. This is a tremendous exhibition and it is free.

The Days of The Hawk and Other Poems: Adonis, by Dia al-Azzawi, 1990, hand-coloured lithograph

The artist, an internationally recognised Iraqi painter and sculptor, living and working in London since the late 1970s, is known for his deep attachment to arabic poetry and calligraphy and his development of the dafatir (notebook) form, which he has used to reflect on Iraq’s tragic history.

Louise is calling for submissions in response to works in this show on the theme of Myth and The Storyteller. Submissions close on 4th March.


The opening move in our virtual community – this wonderful poem Corona-Kokey from Andrew Dixon – make sure you read down right to the end!


Six feet apart									
six feet apart
You do the Corona-Kokey
when there's two or more about

You swerve to the left
I dodge to the right
we keep our social distance
while the virus is about

Jack is in the kitchen
Jill is in the lounge
they do the Corona-Kokey
when they want to swap around

The supermarket's busy
they ought to count us in
Jim bobs and weaves his way around
He's social distancing

Six feet apart
six feet apart
You do the Corona-Kokey
when there's two or more about

Nan is in her bedroom
she's shut herself away
she says she isn't coming out
'till the virus goes away

Thank heavens for social media
(but only tell the truth)
It stretches social distance
out to John and Jan and Ruth

The Queen is in her Castle
the safest place to stay
We'll dance to save the kingdom
dance to Virus Victory Day

Six feet apart
six feet apart
We do the Corona-Kokey
when there's two or more about

                 ©Andrew Dixon,  Great Haseley

Saturday 21st March: Poetry at the Ashmolean

An update from Louise Larchbourne: Poetry at the Ashmolean in March:  the date, Saturday 21 March, the time, 2.00-3.00 p.m.  As usual, you are invited to submit poems using this month’s theme to write on one of the exhibits in galleries 65, 66, 67: 20th-century art.  And as spring whispers at the door, the theme is ‘life’.   Use it, in any sense you like, to make a poem to read in the gallery to the always attentive Ashmolean audience who will accompany us for the hour.

Please send poems to by 17 March! For a special page on our site with resources to inspire you to write your poem, go here

Saturday 7th March: Furnace, Forge and Kiln – Firing the Wood

Romola Parish will be running the next poetry workshop of Sarah’s inaugural Woodland Words residency on Saturday 7th March, from 09.30 to 15.30, with archaeologist Peter Hommel and guest poet Joe Butler, the Blacksmith Poet. This is a free event.

Wytham Woods ” ancient semi-natural woodland, which has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942…” is one of Oxford’s most beautiful natural sites.

Its 1000 acres are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and are one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world, exceptionally rich in flora and fauna, with over 500 species of plants, a wealth of woodland habitats, and 800 species of butterflies and moths.. ” It will be the setting for a smelting demonstration – “..Firing the Wood…” – a poetry workshop and readings by guest poet Joe Butler – more details about Joe at his website here.

For more details, go here Booking is through Eventbrite here

Word Strokes at the National Gallery

“join a poet and a lecturer to explore a painting in two different ways” 

On Wednesday 26th February, from 1-2pm in Room 63 at the National Gallery, you can join Lyn Thornton, for a creative exploration of Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait. All details for the National Gallery Ekphrasis event can be found on The National Gallery Events page, here . A lecturer will introduce the picture and then Lyn will lead a poetry workshop in which you can draft your own poem. Please bring a notebook and pen.

Looking Forward: Dada will return to Oxford in May 2020…

We are eagerly looking forward to the next visit of our friends from Bonn, which is planned for Whitsun week, Saturday 30th May to Sunday 7th June. The focus of the week will be working together on the theme – devised by Eva: ” A poem not our own”. Further details will be posted here as they become available.

Looking Back: when Dada came to Oxford in October 2018…

What a great time we had that week when we hosted Eva and Oli, Heike, Nelly, Sharon and Sofia! There is so much to document, you can find it on Eva’s site at – but it will surely be recorded on this site too – as soon as possible!

We have now had our first meetings of 2019 in Oxford and in Bonn, where our friends are already planning our next visit in June.

Eva & Friends are nearly here: they arrive on Sunday 21st October!

Intrepid Women Flyer001






National Poetry Day: Thursday 4th October

Oxford Stanza 2 is doing a National Poetry Day event – though it’s taking place on Sunday 7th October – I hope that still counts!.  It’s a special poetry reading at the Abingdon Arms, the very welcoming community pub at Beckley, on Sunday, 7 October, 6.30 to 8.30 pm, on the theme of ‘Change’. There’ll be poems about ‘Change’, Oxfordshire poet Joe Butler will be our guest, and there will be an open mic session. The open mic, shared with people from the Otmoor villages, will be sign-up-on-the-night.

The Abingdon Arms is a community pub in the village of Beckley, looking out over Otmoor, with which Oxford Stanza 2, with the encouragement of Mike Hobbs and the community  owners, the Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society Limited (BACBS), is developing a poetry partnership. We held an initial, very successful reading in the Abingdon Arms in June. It’s an encouraging example of ‘Change’, which we are finding very inspiring. Current plans include an international Armistice Day Centenary Reading for Peace, Peace Poetry to be held in Beckley on 11th November, in partnership with the charity Peace Direct

Andrew Shelton is acquiring a new (and most useful) identity as a bookbinder and has been turning our Bonn parallel text pamphlet Miteinander reden / Talking together, edited by Bill Jenkinson and Eva Wal and produced thanks to a grant obtained by Diana Bell, into a handsome, durable hard-backed slim volume with a beautiful photograph by Tom Nicolaou on the cover. Here are the copies he has finished for our German members

Bonn Booklets

Eva Wal’s Workshops at the Arp Museum, Bahnhof Rolandseck

Nice to think we are now part of ongoing activities in Germany, through our members Eva Wal, Heike Keßler, Maria Müller, Nelly Neukirchen, Sharon D. Cohagan and Elisabeth Sofia SchliefJust to give a flavour, here is Eva’s report on her recent writers’ workshop at the Arp Museum: Travels with Dionysus

Schreibhand und Stilleben_w[8773]

It was a special journey this time, inspired by three works by the photographer and installation artist Werner Klotz at the Bahnhof Rolandseck Museum (the Arp Museum), which all refer to the Greek God Dionysus: Travel Bar of Dionysus (1996-2014), From the collection of Dionysus (1993-2014) and Dionysus’ Supreme Selection (1997-2014). They feature glass which has been processed in some way, whether by being assembled, placed in a vitrine or having been gilded or smashed.

We don’t always recognise the cult figure Dionysus behind the god of wine, of whom Nietzsche wrote:

“…According to an incontrovertible tradition, the suffering of Dionysus was the sole subject of the earliest form of Greek tragedy…”

Ironically, the three works, with their glasses, bottles and fragments, can be seen in the ballroom and staircase to the café of the former station. Glass fragments have been read as oracles. Glass, known to the Egyptians, is more than three thousand years old. The oldest formula for glass was handed down by an Assyrian king in 650 BC: “…take 60 parts sand, 180 parts ash from marine plants, 5 parts chalk and you will get glass…” Of course, you also need an oven capable of reaching 1,400 degrees centigrade.

A selection of relevant objects and travel mementoes were on display in the museum library to prompt writing. In a full hour, fairy tales, short stories and poems appeared:  whether short or lengthy, witty, tragic, eerie or thoughtful. To hear a freshly written text being read is always an amazing and moving experience.

Oxford Stanza 2 met “Dada war alles gut”!

In August we –  Afam (in spirit), Bill, Louise, Inge, Shukria (also in spirit), Stella Andrew & Pat – enjoyed a wonderful visit to Bonn, to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Oxford-Bonn link, to open Diana Bell’s participatory art project, “Das Grosse Fragezeichen” together with Eva Wal and her poetry group “Dada war alles gut” at an open air reading in both English and German on St Remigius Platz, Bonn, on Saturday 26th August. On the following Tuesday, both groups joined together at a writing workshop led by Eva at the Arp Museum, Bahnhof Rolandseck, an inspiring setting indeed, as new poetry in English and German is still emerging. We will be considering it at our next monthly meeting on Monday 2nd October, because we are delighted that Eva and the other poets of her group, Elisabeth, Heike, Maria, Nelly and Sharon are now members of this Stanza! Willkommen!

We ended our visit to Bonn in suitable style with a very happy reading presented by Eva at Jacques Weindepot on the evening of Wednesday 30th August, thanks to our hosts Ingeborg Brenne Markner and Dr Thomas Kaut of KULI/LiteraturAusschank.

Now, we are getting back to work after our summer holidays. Dorothy Yamamoto and Sarah J Bryson are presenting “Terra firma, or all at sea?”, a poetry workshop at Kirtlington Village Hall, at 10am for 10.30am on Sunday 15th October – for all the details, go here

Sarah Watkinson will be reading from her new pamphlet, “Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight” at Jenny Lewis’ Open Mic session on Sunday 12th November at the Sixth Woodstock Poetry Festival 2017, Friday 10th – Sunday 12th November, where Romola Parish will also be reading – and no doubt other friends as well. For full details – and to book your slot – go to the Woodstock Bookshop website and just scroll down the page a little bit  here

Long term plans are beginning to arrange a visit to Oxford for our Bonn members! Hoch!