JEAN ATKIN in study 2015 credit L Greatorex (2)
This race of meltwater,
sweet talker, springs growth
from the winter
bed of the wood

‘Atkin is one of the most original and rewarding poets that we have in the literary landscape at the moment’
R V Bailey, reviewing in ‘Envoi’

I’m a poet, writer and experienced educator, based in Shropshire. I’ve worked on a variety of residencies in both England and Scotland and provide workshops and readings to schools, festivals and community and national organisations. I often work in collaboration with arts and community projects.

In 2022 I completed a project with the national charity Paintings In Hospitals, worked on projects for Meadow Arts and The Hive in Shrewsbury, worked in schools for the Poetry Society, ran workshops for Poetry On Loan and tutored for Arvon.  I’m still working on a wonderful project with MediaActive which is employing a dancer, a musician, and a poet (me) to create new work inspired by archive film. My poetry-theatre invention The Spellwright had some outings this year too, including at Ledbury Poetry Festival.

In 2020, because of the pandemic, I created The Poetry Wire, a website for sharing work within a small closed group for whom I write regular prompts, and provide detailed feedback.  Once a week we meet for a social readaround on Zoom.  The Poetry Wire has now run nine sold-out courses with more planned for 2023.  I’ve really enjoyed this way of working, and met so many warm and talented poets.

In 2022 the title poem of ‘The Bicycles of Ice and Salt’ was selected by Candlestick Press for inclusion in ‘Ten Poems About Journeys’, my grateful thanks to them and to editor John Foggin. I also had poems published in the anthology ‘Voices for the Silent’ from IDP, and in Pennine Platform, Raceme, Anthropocene, Finished Creatures, Interpreter’s House, Acumen, Poetry Scotland, Atrium, and One Hand Clapping.

In 2021 I published two new books – Fan-peckled (Fair Acre Press) about the lost words of Shropshire; and The Bicycles of Ice and Salt (IDP) about two long and long-ago journeys I made by bicycle.  My thanks to IDP who kindly nominated poems from ‘How Time is in Fields’ and ‘The Bicycles of Ice and Salt’ for the Pushcart Prize this year.

In 2019 I was Troubadour of the Hills for Ledbury Poetry Festival, and National Poetry Day’s BBC Poet for Shropshire – for which I wrote a commissioned poem for the county.  It turned out that Shropshire has harboured many unexpected elephants.  You can read the poem, watch it and hear it here.   I also make poetry in health and wellbeing contexts, including Social Prescription, and am experienced in working with the very elderly, and people living with dementia.  I like to work in collaboration with other artists and organisations when the opportunity arises.
For seven years I organised The Poetry Lounge, Ludlow’s spoken word night, but since moving up the road to Shrewsbury, I’m now working with Shrewsbury Poetry.  Shrewsbury Poetry is now meeting as Shrewsbury Poetry Connected (on zoom) one month, and as Shrewsbury Poetry Under Cover (live) at PetitGlou in Shrewsbury.

I provide ‘poetry-theatre’ as The Spellwright for festivals and events: Spells Written To Your Requirements Without Delay.  I’ve written spells for growing wings, for opening locked doors, for persuading an owl to speak, for invisibility – and many more.  There is a candle. And red sealing wax, and a brass seal.

I mentor emerging poets, lead online poetry courses and work regularly with children and young people, often through Writing West Midlands – for seven years I worked as a lead writer for Spark Young Writers.  With all this going on, I’ve found it vital to be a professional member of NAWE and have an enhanced DBS certificate.

My latest books are The Bicycles of Ice and Salt (IDP, 2021) and Fan-peckled (Fair Acre Press, 2021) in collaboration with artist/illustrator Katy Alston.  My second collection, How Time is in Fields was published in spring 2019 by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and launched at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.  I’ve previously published Not Lost Since Last Time with Oversteps Books (2013), pamphlets with Roncadora Press, Ravenglass Press and Biscuit Tin Press, and a children’s novel, The Crow House.  And I have a taxidermied Crow, who comes to workshops with me.

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