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POEMS THAT Changed the World with BTL Leeds

Poems that Changed the World is hosted by Sarah Autumn and Denetta Copeland of BTL Leeds 

The celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish once said, ‘every wonderful poem is an act of resistance’. Mary Shelley wrote, ‘Words have more power than anyone can imagine; it is through words that the world's greatest battles are fought,’ as she championed speaking out against injustice two hundred years ago and Audre Lorde reminded us that ‘Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence.’ Yet, poetry is often seen as lofty and inaccessible, difficult to understand or relate to.

The ‘Poems that Changed the World’ reading group is about making poetry more accessible and carving out a little time in a busy week just for you to share a love of poems and enjoy meaningful discussions. The group isn’t academic or formal. You don't need to know a load of poetry jargon, although you might pick some up along the way. It's not like being back in your high school English class. The focus is not to learn how to write poetry, although expanding your reading horizons will certainly enhance your writing skills, if that's something you're interested in. 

Each month we take time to read and discuss one poem and its creator, exploring the social issues and struggles within, how they connect to our own experiences and the world we live in today. Often our interpretations of the poems or our views on the content differ which makes for lively conversations and new ways of looking at things. 

Poems we read in 2023:

To give you an idea of the breadth and type of poems we read and discuss, below are the poems from 2023. Some of these were suggested by group members. 

  • Litany for survival by Audre Lorde
  • Hold It Down - Gina Myers
  • I Look At The World - Langston Hughes 
  • red-rag and pink-flag by E. E. Cummings
  • I Explain A Few Things by Pablo Naruda
  • The Tender Place by Ted Hughes
  • Home by Warsan Shire
  • A Birthday Present by Sylvia Plath 
  • The Mask Of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley 
  • Di Great Insohreckshan by Linton Kwesi Johnson
  • The Journey by Mary Oliver

Poems that changed the world FAQs

How often is the poetry reading group?

The group will take place on the last Wednesday of the month as part of the Left Bank Culture Club. The group is held in the main Left Bank space or in one of the caravans outside when the evenings are lighter and warmer. 

2024 dates

  • 7th February
  • 6th March 
  • 3rd April
  • 1st May
  • 5th June
  • 3rd July 
  • 4th September
  • 2nd October
  • 6th November
  • 4th December

What time is the poetry group? 

The session starts at 6.30pm.

Between 6.30-6.45 you will have time to arrive, get a drink and acquaint yourself with the group. We wrap up by 8pm. 

How much does the poetry group cost?

We are pleased to announce that we received funding from Live Well Leeds to deliver ten poetry sessions. The poetry group is free to attend with the option of pay as you feel donations. Any donations received go towards the continued running of the group.   

Do I have to read the poem?

There will be time to read the poem during the session so you do not need to read it before. However, if you register online in advance you will receive an email on the Friday before the poetry group which includes the poem. There will also be printouts available on the day. 

Can I suggest a poem? 

Yes! We would love to hear your suggestions. Email 

If you have any other questions email BTL Leeds at the address above and they will get back to you as soon as they can!


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