On Sunday 8 July, around 70 people gathered in The Rivals Café at the Royal Exchange Theatre to listen to a group of older budding writers share their poems. The event, My Voice in the City, was part of Manchester’s first Festival of Ageing.

The poems had been created by two writing groups specially created for My Voice in the City and led by writer Sarah Butler as part of our Elders programme.

My Voice In The City News Item

One group included nine budding poets who had been attending a four-week poetry course at the Royal Exchange Theatre with Sarah. The other group was a collective of older neighbours living in Miles Platting and was created in partnership with Manchester Cares - a charity that exists to ‘reduce loneliness amongst older and younger neighbours alike by helping people feel part of our changing city rather than left behind by it.’

Both groups created new poetry in response to Manchester and on Sunday, both came together to share their creative voices with an audience of friends, family, supporters and members of the public.

“What an enjoyable afternoon. Give us more.”

“A wonderful occasion – open and friendly.”

“Uplifting and inspiring. Very proud to be an Elder.”

Andy Barry, who leads our Elders programme said:
“It was great to see so many people enjoying poetry and getting involved. Our work here is about challenging the stereotypes around ageing and to encourage creativity whatever your age. One younger person in their 20s attending told me ‘it’s great to see older people being creative and making literature more diverse, as it should be."

As well as the poets being creative, Elders Company member Glyn Treharne took photos of the event (below), while Steve a volunteer from Sonder Radio (a Manchester based community radio station catering for elders living within a care environment and independently in the community) helped audio record the poems.

My Voice in the City Graham resized

During a break from the poetry, the poets chatted to those attending and asked them:

What is theatre? What is poetry? and What is a positive image of ageing?

The responses were then edited into two new works of poetry read aloud to close the event:

For Everyone – a homage to poetry and theatre
The mystery of living distilled into words
A sanctuary from your thoughts
A revolution
A revelation
A journey in your mind
The expression of your heart
A way of organising what can’t be organised
Everything in between

We are all positive images
Me and you, you and me
Talk to me about freedom
Talk to me about energy
Talk to me about confidence
Talk to me about adventure
We are not giving in
We have nothing to lose