Poetry can be incredibly powerful. During the Holocaust and other genocides, those persecuted wrote poetry to express their feelings of loss, suffering and hope. Survivors wrote poetry afterwards as a response to their experiences. Writing, reading and sharing poetry can be a creative way to bring people together, even if you are not able to physically join together.

Be Inspired

Have a look at some of this inspirational poetry:

There are lots of resources on the Holocaust Memorial Day website, including a  HMD poetry lesson plan to explore the Holocaust and genocide in more detail through poetry.

Create your own Poem to share

Why not trying writing your poem either individually or in a group. Here are a few ideas:

  • As a group, identify key themes, ideas or words that you want the poem to focus on or include. Discuss these themes and ideas – what inspired them, was it a life story or image? Why are these stories still relevant today?
  • Each member of the group could write one line or one couplet (for example) on a specific theme, which could be collated together to form the poem
  • Individuals could each write their own poem to share with the group which could be used as inspiration for the group poem.
  • Decide on the form and structure of your poem: will it be a traditional poetic form or more flexible; will it have a rhyme scheme or a specific metre?

Sharing your poem

Finally, share your poem on social media. Make sure you tag the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Twitter and Facebook and use our hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay and #HMD2021 – find out more here.

Poetry for Winter with Alan Brown and Jean Hill

Two members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group, Alan Brown and Jean Hill have sent in these poems with some reflections on Winter and Christmas.Robin

Appreciation of Spring  by Alan Brown

Beyond these daunting, wintry days

the distant prize of Spring

is at the limits of my gaze,

a tempting, taunting thing.

But though the gloomy, sullen skies

have laid my spirits low,

I know one day the sun will rise

with welcome, vernal glow.

The air, not merely cold but fresh,

may bathe my weary face,

while shoots of green will softly flesh

earth’s brooding carapace.

The songbirds will convene their choir,

rehearsing their refrain

to bring the news we all desire –

the world’s alive again.


 Dearest Father Christmas

This year my wants are few

I’m busy going nowhere

And there’s nothing much to do

So bring perfumed sanitizer

And a mask with pretty flowers

And perhaps a little puzzle book

To while away the hours

But there is one special present

That would mean so much to me

If you could bring a vaccine

So the world is Covid free

And dear Father Christmas

In your magic I believe

We know you fly round the earth

Each year on Christmas Eve

So if anyone can do it

Distribute vaccine far and near

To global destinations

And free us all from fear

It’s you, dear Father Christmas

With your reindeer and your sleigh

Put some vaccine in our stockings

And we’ll rejoice on Christmas Day


National Poetry Day-with Wokingham Library Poetry Group

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have been writing their own poetry on this year’s theme of Vision- enjoy some of their poetry below.

Also have a look at some other great poetry , Recommended Reading Lists (4 lists for Children, Young Adults, General Poetry, and Reading Groups), and trove of poems on this year’s theme of Vision


2020 Vision By Alan Brown

As I look out upon my tree-lined street,

though fine enough, I would say, of its kind,

I often to my deepest thoughts retreat

and distant visions drift into my mind

from those old, dusty archives of my youth.

There, where I had wandered, both far and free,

I view with fantasy tinting the truth,

creating my version of history.

Summers were sunny with no hint of rain,

while Winter’s snows crunched, so crisp underfoot.

Idyllic seasons are locked in my brain,

their pathways smooth, without puddle or rut.

Thus, those bright visions of joy and plenty

show hindsight falls short of twenty/twenty.

Vision -The Marvel Superhero by Matthew Scanlon

 See “Vision” the android at his very best,

 In the team of Avengers, he is never at rest.

 Android superhero fighting danger each day,

And his skills so immense nothing stands in his way.

 Intelligent, agile – with magnificent speed,

 He possesses the skills, superheroes all need.

 The ability to fly, he uses solar projection,

 He passes through objects by phase adaptation.

His Body repairs using regeneration, Technology absorbed and without hesitation.

 A powerful punch, like a dynamic blast,

His destructible power, and he shapeshifts so fast.

 A character alias known as the Victor Shade,  The world is much safer since this android was made.   

                            Serenade to Blue by Joan Humphries

The azure sky on a still summer’s day,

the glistening sea around sun-drenched islands,

shimmering veils.

Scene of blue.

The sensuous voice of the saxophone,

the haunting whisper of a solitary flute


Symphony of blue.

Laundered sheets, dried in the sun,

forget-me-knots and sprigs of lavender,


Scent of blue.

The refreshing taste of sparkling spring water,

freshly cleansed teeth with a hint of spearmint,


Savour of blue

The cool breeze caressing my sun-kissed body,

the smoothness of silk stroking my skin,

cascading rain.

Sensation of blue.

The silent suffering of a breaking heart,

the soulful cry for a loved one taken,

dark depression.

Sadness of blue.

Relaxing into deep meditation,

peacefulness touching the soul with healing,

silently soothing.

Serenity of blue.

The Mist by Robert Parker

Out of the rice fields rose a dark mist

It enveloped the world in a trice

And threatened the very existence of life.

Where sickness.occurs care may suffice

Count your fingers one by one

Cleaning them from nail to thumb

Stand six feet apart awhile

Two metres if you are a Europhile

Shield your face with a mask

Not too much for one to ask

Saving lives for work and play

That is our mantra of the day

For all to follow, the safest way

 Vision by Geoff Hopkins

I am a poet my friend, I paint pictures with words

sometimes my verses seem sublime, at other times absurd

most of the time the verses flow but other times there’s a drought

I wonder why this should be but I can’t seem to work it out

I sit here in my little room trying to get some inspiration

when through my window I see a rainbow – what illumination!

I know a rainbow is just the splitting of the sun’s life giving rays

I sit transfixed in wonderment as its magic slowly fades

It gives me inspiration to put my thoughts and feelings into verse

to tell the whole world about my joy for better or for worse

Then someone said ‘what you believe isn’t really true’

there are only three true colours, red, yellow and blue’

by now I was upset, couldn’t let it pass

‘You say there’s no such thing as green, well what about the grass?’

‘It gets worse’ my friend replied ‘The sun’s rays are crystal bright’

‘The only true  colour is brilliant shining white’

I recoil from what you say feeling rather crushed

you’ve just taken what I believe and trodden it in the dust

I’m a poet not a scientist, I don’t have to keep things real

I just take what I can see and tell you how I feel

I look in wonderment at the vision in the sky

It seems so very real to me and it’s easy on the eye

perhaps there is room for both of us, no need for this confusion

you can keep your science my friend, I much prefer the illusion.


                                                          Geoff Hopkins.

Celebrate National Poetry Day with #Haiflus

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have written these #haiflus to reflect their experience of the pandemic. These are written in haiku form, short poems in three lines.


Alan Brown

Now sad Spring has passed

we sit and watch lame Summer

limp towards the Fall.

Though masked and distanced,

the strange camaraderie

of the patient queue.

Now I dream my dreams

without the need of reasons

for not living them.

Matthew Scanlon

  Lost a Friend  

  Lost a friend today

 Covid nineteen took a life

 Happy memories 

  Makes my Day

 Sadness in Lockdown

 A loving smile makes my day

 Sunshine tomorrow 

  Nowhere I can go        

 Alone on my own

There is nowhere I can go

 Listen – birds singing

Friendships created    

 Queues with long waiting

 See bright Face masks on ready

  Friendships created   

Talking together         

 Sunshining Lockdown

 School lessons, and fun baking

Talking together  


National Poetry Day 2020

 National Poetry Day Celebrations 2020


 This year National Poetry Day is celebrated on Thursday October 1st. This year’s theme is Vision, more information here- https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/about-npd/ Additionally, a poet and performer called Liv Torc, had the idea of asking her friends to write haikus about their experience of the pandemic in three lines 5-7-5 syllables  calling them haiflus.  

https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/poems/haiflu/. If you feel inspired to write your own haiflu send them into libraries@wokingham.gov.uk and we will publish them on our social media sites.

Or think about sharing a line of poetry or your favourite poem online with the tag #ShareaPoem

Poet’s Corner-with Jean Hill and Joan Humphries

Jean Hill and Joan Humphries from the Wokingham Library Poetry  have contributed some of their poetry for us to enjoy.Poetry 2

DREAMING  by Jean Hill

 ‘Hey, Hey, We’re having a party’

Come on over to mine

No more worries about distancing

We’re back to normal and we’re fine


Come all our friends and neighbours

Come relations far and near

Forget about the virus

There’s nothing more to fear


We’ll hug and kiss each other

And pass round plates of food

And laugh and sing together

In a good old party mood


But now I wake from dreaming

Of as it was before

This virus called Corona

Came marching through our door


When will our lives be free again

Is there a beam of light that gleams

Or will ‘Hey, Hey, Let’s Party’

Be forever in our dreams



 July the fourth – our independence

They’re opening up the pubs

The world and his wife will gather

In city centres and in clubs


But why pick on a Saturday

For an evening of high jinks

Distance rules all smothered

By alcoholic drinks


The police are all on standby

Expecting each and every lout

To disregard the danger

And the metre rule to flout


Much better would be Monday

A time that’s dull and quiet

And not a day that’s chosen

By the yobs to all run riot


But Saturday – I ask you

Stay indoors and drink your wine

And hope everyone is clobbered

If they cross the thin blue line


As politicians waffle

They do not seem to understand

Are their heads all buried

Like an ostrich in the sand


We don’t want to be like Leicester

And see lockdown reinstated

Please don’t act like total morons

Now the virus is abated


We all want to let our hair down

And no-one more than me

With a lifting of restrictions

In a life that’s safe and free


Celebration by Joan Humphries

Celebration brings to mind

Times of fun & Jollity

Birthdays, weddings, graduations

Laughter and frivolity.


But there are times when such events

Cause pain & hurt to some.

So we should all be mindful

Of those whose hearts are numb.


We celebrate a baby’s birth,

Forgetting those who’ve none.

Weddings too, when someone

There has lost a wife or son.


Suddenly there comes a time

When celebration ceases.

A war perhaps, when times are grim

Or outbreaks of diseases.


Our country and the world at large,

In fear and trepidation,

Has been invaded by a bug,

Without much information.


Little now to celebrate,

I’m sure that’s how we feel,

But stop awhile to look around,

It’s then you’ll start to heal.


We’re blessed with warmth and sunshine,

Spring flowers in full bloom.

An orchestra of birdsong,

Which surely lifts the gloom


There’s time to do so many things

That we have put on hold.

Friends to ring and family too,

A poem to unfold.


I sometimes think we rush through life,

Doing this and that,

No time to appreciate

So many things, that’s fact.


So while we now are housebound,

Don’t dwell on what is bad,

Just take a look around you

Be thankful and be glad.


There’s always a silver lining! By Joan Humphries


Rushing here, rushing there,

Getting nowhere fast.

This is how life seemed to be,

But surely it can’t last.

This is what I told myself

As each day came & went,

Until Corona Virus struck.

That wasn’t my intent!


At the start of this decade

The year of twenty twenty.

We were told to stay at home,

And time there was a-plenty.

The virus was so deadly

The numbers swelled immensely

Some did not recover.

Others suffered quite intensely.


They said we were in lockdown,

But it’s more like a retreat.

Free to do just as I wished

Within my few square feet.

I’ve tidied all my cupboards

Read books and phoned my friends,

Answered all my e mails,

Some poems I have penned.


Activities continued,

Using Zoom and Facetime too.

I’ve made my lists to shop on line,

Saved lots of money too.

I’ve been for walks and exercised

At quite a speedy rate.

The only problem I have found

Is my increasing weight!

Poetry 1



Poets Corner

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have been busy during lockdown. Here Joan Humphries Alan Brown, Jean Hill and Joan Humphries and share some of their verse.


Still Dreaming by Alan Brown ( from his book Tranquil Fields)

 Long gone, my days of bat and ball

and centuries upon the green.

So many Summers I recall,

too many Winters have I seen.

Though age has robbed me of my skill

and time has dropped me from the team,

the memories live with me still

and I can dream. Oh, I can dream.

Burning still, such vivid scenes,

of Abu Simbel on the Nile,

of Bourbon Street in New Orleans,

and speed along the Mountain Mile,

the Lion’s Gate, the Golden Horn,

fast caught in memory’s bright beams,

as clearly as an April morn,

they paint my dreams, my precious dreams.

No longer may I stroll the lane

with fair faced girl upon my arm

but in my mind I lose the pain

and ramble yet past wood and farm,

by river bank and village green

and taste the strawberries and cream

in that remembered youthful scene,

for I can dream. How I can dream.

And yet I yearn, through Winter’s gloom,

to breathe again the air of Spring,

to see, once more, the bluebells bloom,

the homeward geese upon the wing

and hope that my life’s mystery

retains some bounty in its scheme

and guards more future joy for me.

That is my dream. Yes, I still dream.




Oh, dear Lord, in your mercy save me

From the lure of a Bassett’s Jelly Baby

Let me shun all supermarket deals

On chocolate, sweets and Wagon Wheels

Please put my taste buds in denial

Lead me steadfast to the aisle

Where lettuce green and radish red

Will satisfy my needs instead

And, dear Lord, if it please your eyes

Let me reduce my thunder-thighs

Please curb my thirst when on a bender

And let my waist again be slender

And while you have it in your power

Please do not let me devour

Cake and biscuits, pizza, pies

And in your wisdom please devise

A single plan, a fool proof scheme

To give me a body sleek and lean

So hear my prayer and let me cease

Before I’m clinically obese

From all temptation save this sinner

McDonald fries and a chip-shop dinner

Just let me binge on leafy greens

And curly kale and runner beans

And, dear Lord, let me aspire

To evade the gluttony and desire

For puddings lashed with dairy cream

And let me focus on my dream

Don’t see my hopes again be shelved

Let me fit my jeans, a perfect twelve


There’s always a silver lining!  Joan Humphries

Rushing here, rushing there,

Getting nowhere fast.

This is how life seemed to be,

But surely it can’t last.

This is what I told myself

As each day came & went,

Until Corona Virus struck.

That wasn’t my intent!

At the start of this decade

The year of twenty twenty.

We were told to stay at home,

And time there was a-plenty.

The virus was so deadly

The numbers swelled immensely

Some did not recover.

Others suffered quite intensely.

They said we were in lockdown,

But it’s more like a retreat.

Free to do just as I wished

Within my few square feet.

I’ve tidied all my cupboards

Read books and phoned my friends,

Answered all my e mails,

Some poems I have penned.

Activities continued,

Using Zoom and Facetime too.

I’ve made my lists to shop on line,

Saved lots of money too.

I’ve been for walks and exercised

At quite a speedy rate.

The only problem I have found

Is my increasing weight!

When I Am Old   by Joan Humphries   

(With apologies to Jenny Joseph)


I shall not wear purple,

But will have red hair

Eat sweets just when I choose

And live in a city mews.

I shall never waffle

But will sometimes dare,

To speak my mind and say

I’d like things done my way.


I shall not buy jumble

When short of clothes to wear

But visit certain shops

And buy last season’s flops.

I shall never grumble

Though I might sometimes swear

When things go wrong and fail

And no-one sends me mail.


I shall not be humble

Sit waiting on my chair

But ask for what I need

And get it with great speed.

I shall never meddle

When it’s not my affair

Though if they choose to tell.

I’ll listen really well.

I shall never dawdle

But dance like Fred Astaire

And laugh and sing and shout

And twist and turn about.


I shall never stumble

Causing folk to stare

For someone in the street

Will help me to my feet.

I shall never struggle

When I go into care

For I will let them see

No-one can silence me.




Poet’s Corner-with Jean Hill and Alan Brown


Wokingham Library Poetry Group Members have written some more verse to inspire us in the dog-days of Summer. Alan Brown has been experimenting with a great new poetry form.

A poet and performer Liv Torc, had the idea of asking her friends to write haikus about their experience of the pandemic in three lines 5-7-5 syllables calling them haiflus.

Here are Alan’s – I think you will agree they are very clever.

 Now I dream my dreams

without the need of reasons

for not living them.


Though masked and distanced,

the strange camaraderie

of the patient queue.


Now sad Spring has passed

we sit and watch lame Summer

limp towards the Fall.


Jean Hill has continued to write some  great verse inspired by the pandemic:




Boris from his podium

Said lockdown could be eased

Those alone could join a ‘bubble’

And to hear this I was pleased

All the Grannies and the Grandads

And single parents on their own

Can choose to hug a loved-one

And compassion can be shown

So I rang all my relations

Here and there around the place

As I hopefully approached them

A grateful smile upon my face

Please can I join your ‘bubble’

I asked Choice Number One

No, we’re having the wife’s mother

She’s by herself and wants to come

So off to phone another

Will you be my support home

No, we’re having Cousin Mabel

She was the first to phone


Now I’m ringing round the neighbours

And contacting my best mates

Please can I come and join you

No, they’ve enough upon their plates

With rejection I’m more lonely

Cut deeper than the sharpest knives

Reaching out to others

In the hope to share their lives

Now I admit my poem’s fiction

I have family that care

I can join one of my dearest

And in their lives I’ll share


But there are others out there

We must gather to our hearts

And make them feel they’re wanted

Not still facing life apart


Broadly speaking it is progress

’Though divisive it may be

With families making choices

When they cannot all agree

Make room inside your ‘bubble’

Hold out a welcome hand

Until we come together

In our green and pleasant land





First day back, I’m here in school

Observing the two metre rule

With distance markings round the blocks

As students sit ‘A’ level mocks

When masks hide smiles and eyes are wary

An alien concept some find scary

And as I invigilate each test

All spaced apart they do their best

With teacher care and school support

Exam room calm and no-one fraught

With no dramatics, each one steady

Revision done and all are ready

Instructions read and pens are poised

The room is hushed, no sound, no noise

And in my heart I wish them well

As I squirt the antiseptic gel

keep calm







The Forward Prizes for Poetry Shortlists 2020




The Forward Prizes for Poetry honour excellence in contemporary poetry published in the UK and Ireland.

There are three prizes: Best Collection (£10,000) and Best First Collection (£5,000) consider books of poetry, while Best Single Poem (£1,000) seeks the best poem from magazines and competitions.

The shortlists were announced on 10 June 2020 and the winners will be revealed on 25 October 2020.

Forward Prize for Best Collection


The Air Year by Caroline Bird (available on eBook)

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (available on eBook, published 30th June)

I Want! I Want! by Vicki Feaver (available on eBook)

FURY by David Morley

Tiger Girl by Pascale Petit

Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection


Shine, Darling by Ella Frears

RENDANG by Will Harris

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long

Magnolia 木蘭 by Nina Minya Powles

Citadel by Martha Sprackland

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem


Fiona Benson – ‘Mama Cockroach, I Love You’ (Poetry London)

Malika Booker – ‘The Little Miracles’ (Magma)

Regi Claire  – ‘(Un)certainties’ (Mslexia & PBS Women’s Poetry Competition)

Valzhyna Mort – ‘Nocturne for a Moving Train’ (The Poetry Review)

Sarah Tsiang – ‘Dick pics’ (The Moth)

For information on how to access eBooks and eAudio, visit the website https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/e-books/



Poet’s Corner

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have sent in some more contributions for our library blog, some with a topical twist!

Lockdown 2020 by Alan Brown

 I’ve tried to read an unreadable book

and stared for hours at my video screen

until I could no longer bear to look

at such an unremitting, sterile scene.

But when I sleep I ride on rolling seas.

I view the moonlit ripples on the tide

and feel again the freshly laundered breeze

caress my face and stir the soul inside.

Simplicity, not cherished in the past,

or overlooked, like backdrops of a play,

is seen and truly valued at long last

and stored in mind until a better day.

So when this veil of gloom is lifted clear,

let me recall these things I now hold dear.



 We’ve got the virus on the run

Time to open windows wide

Life will once again belong to us

No longer will we hide


But what’s this new phenomenon

Coronaphobia is rife

Even though the risk’s diminished

Folk are fearful for their life


Come on guys, we must be brave

And when the time is right

Go forth into the sunshine

And enjoy God’s given light


If we ran from every daily risk

We’d soon be out of breath

We’ve got the chance to live again

’Though we’ll still mourn every death


Don’t be like a caterpillar

When with hope the future’s bright

Emerge from the chrysalis

Like a butterfly – take flight


Don’t fall victim to the phobia

Don’t let worries manifest

The greatest fear is fear itself

We’ve survived – we’re truly blessed


So when Boris gives the go-ahead

Let’s raise one mighty cheer

And once again we’ll live and love

Without Corona fear



 Now I’m just full of bright ideas

On how to pass the time

I saw this on the internet

So confess it isn’t mine


To ring up random numbers

In countries, on the phone

And scare all their old ladies

In lockdown on their own


We’ll say that we’re from Microsoft

And their computer’s on the blink

And rob them of their money

Before they’ve time to think


A fantasy – I’m dreaming

I wouldn’t stoop to cause distress

To all the world’s old ladies

While we’re together in this mess


I’m not really horrid

Nor normally unkind

But what I’d do to scammers

Paints pictures in my mind


When with smarmy voices

They set out to target us

I summon up this image

Of them flattened by a bus


In centres dotted round the world

With scammers, caring not a jot

I’d line them up against the wall

And each one would be shot


I’d have gibbets up the high street

Hang them by their scrawny necks

’Cos they reduce old ladies

To nervous, frightened wrecks


They prey upon the elderly

The weak and old and frail

And I’d like to see the lot of them

Rot in the nearest jail


So when a scammer rings you up

Just terminate his call

He’s a nasty little weevil

A brick short of a wall


Or string along his patter

But don’t believe a word he said

Then tell him that the nurse has come

To put you back to bed


Be cautions and be wary

Don’t think they’ve picked on you

We out there are many

And they’re just an evil few


Don’t get upset or worried

See the wheels of justice grind

Imagine their comeuppance

Paint the pictures in your mind


WAKES WEEK by Jean Hill

 It’s Wakes Week up in Lancashire

In eighteen-ninety-five

The mill wheels have stopped turning

And Blackpool comes alive


The looms at last fall silent

As the shuttle ceases flight

And the spindle stops revolving

No more spinning from tonight


The cotton fluff will settle

The clamorous din will halt

The oily stench of weaving looms

To a standstill will be brought


The lads will court the lasses

Flat caps at jaunty angle

And with wages in their pockets

The pennies jingle-jangle


A donkey ride across the sands

And winkles picked with pin

Jellied eels and pie and mash

And coconuts to win


With Vaudeville at The Empire

Wonders every night performed

For just a brief time in the year

The toils of life transformed


Bread well spread with Shippam’s paste

And many a lass would bake

To have with tea cold from a flask

A lump of lardy cake


To ride the tram along the front

And see the lights shine bright

To take the lift in Blackpool Tower

From the top a bonny sight


With toes dipped in the Irish Sea

Between The Ribble and The Wyre

See many a romance blossom

In that bright and breezy shire


For just a week or maybe two

A respite from daily grind

As the cotton mills fall silent

And all hardship’s left behind