The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in 2008 Laura Bittner under CC BY 2.0 license

Clare Pollard’s poem will be displayed on banners around the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square until January 6, 2010. The banners feature artwork by Marcus Walters.  

I’m a New Yorker who grew up on the magnificent Christmas tree lightings in Rockerfeller Square in Midtown Manhattan. In my childhood this was still a relatively modest community event. In those days, it was attended mostly by New Yorkers. In more recent years, it has become a loud commercial affair attended by tourists and visitors.

It may be in part the memory of those long-ago and magical tree-lightings that drew my attention to this lovely relatively understated English-Norweign collaboration. The inclusion of poetry makes it all the more engaging: for the eleventh year running, The Poetry Society commissioned a poem to wrap around the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.

For 2019 poet Clare Pollard wrote The Gift inspired by the theme of hope. It will adorn the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree through January 6th. The Gift was inspired by the images and ideas of London primary school children who received free poetry workshops from Cheryl Moskowitz, Coral Rumble, and Clare Pollard. The workshops were organised by The Poetry Society in October and November. The poem was read by a small group of primary school children at the lighting ceremony last Thursday.

This ceremony is organised by the Mayor of Westminster and Royal Norwegian Embassy, attended by the public, the Mayors of London’s thirty-two boroughs, and VIP guests including the Mayor of Oslo. The Poetry Society and the Royal Norwegian Embassy encircled the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in poetry, celebrating the City of Oslo’s annual gift to London, as part of The Poetry Society’s Look North More Often project. The Poetry Society’s Christmas tree poem project, Look North More Often, was launched in 2009 as part of its centenary celebrations, encouraging local schoolchildren to write in celebration of the tree’s arrival from Norway.

The tradition of the Mayor of Oslo sending a Christmas tree to London as a symbol of peace and friendship dates back to 1947, in recognition from Norway of Britain’s support during World War II. The tree’s journey starts with the Lord Mayor of Westminster visiting Oslo for a traditional tree-felling ceremony followed by the Mayor’s return with the tree to London.

In addition bringing professional poets into London primary schools to work with the students on their ideas and words for the Christmas tree poem, Look North More Often provides teachers across the UK with new digital resources to assist them in teaching poetry.

Here is an except from the commissioned poem, which was read on Thursday.

The Gift

by Clare Pollard (with thoughts and images dreamt up by primary schoolchildren from Westminster)

The seed becomes a golden flower of pouring light, a gift.
I need you to believe, Hope says. It’s you makes me exist.
I feel bright feathers lifting.
I hear a tiger’s roar.
I’ve taken many forms, Hope says – changing is what I’m for.

© 2019, Clare Pollard

Image courtesy of Amazon UK

CLARE POLLARD (Clare’s Official Site) (b. 1978) is a poet and playwright who was raised in Bolton and educated at Turton School in Bromley Cross. She studied English at Cambridge University. At age 19 Pollard published her first poetry collection, The Heavy-Petting Zoo (Bloodaxe Books Ltd. (1997)) In 2000, Pollard won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award. In 2004, her play The Weather was performed at the Royal Court Theatre. In 2007, My Male Muse, a radio documentary was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2009, Pollard and James Byrne edited the Bloodaxe young poets showcase titled Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century.[5] Pollard has been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Essex University. In 2013, she was the judge for the inaugural international Hippocrates Prize for Young Poets.

Clare Pollard has published four collections of poetry, the most recent which, Changeling (Bloodaxe, 2011) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her play The Weather premiered at the Royal Court Theatre and her documentary for radio, She co-edited the anthology Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century and her new version of Ovid’s Heroides was published by Bloodaxe in May 2013

Clare’s Amazon Page U.K. is HERE and U.S. is HERE.

Note: The content of this post is courtesy of The Poetry Society, Wikipedia, Clare Pollard, and Amazon. 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications: Five by Jamie Dedes on The World Literature Blog,  Jamie Dedes, Versifier of Truth, Womawords Literary Press, November 19, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

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