Poetry Societies

Judith Palmer hosts a series about enthusiasts who meet up and down the country to celebrate their love of poetry.



Judith Palmer presents a series about enthusiasts who meet to enjoy and promote their favourite poetry.

4/4. The Friends of the Dymock Poets

The small colony of poets who gathered in a corner of Gloucestershire prior to the First World War left a legacy not only of cherished poetry, but also in the walks and wildlife of the area.

0101The Walter Savage Landor Society2003112320031129

The Walter Savage Landor Society of Warwick was formed by a handful of devotees on a freezing day in January 2000.


is a mystical branch of Islam which, 800 years ago, produced one of its greatest poets - Jal-al-Adin Rumi.

0103Dylan Thomas Society2003120720031213

Judith Palmer meets the members of the Dylan Thomas Society, as they gather in Swansea for a special lunch to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the poet's death.

Among the poems she hears is a previously-unpublished rhyme jotted down in Dylan's fourth-form physics exercise book.

0104 LASTThe British Haiku Society2003121420031220

gather in Preston to explore the ancient Japanese art form.

0201The Thomas Lovell Beddoes Society2006072320060729

Judith spends an evening at the Dead Poet's Pub in Belper, Derbyshire, with the Beddoes Society, where family and friends gather to raise a glass to their brilliant but flawed ancestor.

0202The Gujarati Writers Forum2006073020060805

The Gujarati poets love to celebrate their literary heritage but want to make it relevant for the younger generation. Judith Palmer goes to Batley in West Yorkshire to join in a lively meeting and hear about their latest translation project.

0203Ampleforth College2006080620060812

Judith meets sixth-formers and members of the religious community at Ampleforth as they gather to share their favourite poetry.

0204 LASTThe Yeats Society Of Sligo2006081320060819

Judith spends a day on the west coast of Ireland with the Yeats Society as they celebrate the poet's birthday in style.

0301The John Harris Society2007090920070915

The undervalued poetry of a Cornish miner is brought to light by a small but dedicated group of admirers, including a mainstream poet.

Extract from The Mine by John Harris.

Hast ever seen a mine? Hast ever been

Down in its fabled grottoes, wall' with gems,

And canopied with torrid mineral-belts,

That blaze within the fiery orifice?

Hast ever, by the glimmer of a lamp,

Or the fast waning taper, gone down, down

Towards the earth's dread centre, where wise men

Have told us that the earthquake is conceived,

And great Vesuvias hath his lava-house,

Which burns and burns for ever, shooting forth

As from a fountain of eternal fire?

Hast ever heard, within this prison-house,

The startling hoof of fear? The eternal flow

Of some dread meaning whispering to thy soul?

The Hill-Top by John Harris

But here I am, with heaven above my head,

O'errun with beauty, and great thoughts like ships

Gliding across the waters of my soul;

The earth below me like a teeming mart.

So renovated, so refreshed am I,

If I had wings I'd flash into the air,

And strive with all the marvel of a sage

To grasp this growing grandeur. In the woods

At summer twilight, I have heard strange songs

Travelling among the shadows, and my strength

Grew as the notes waxed louder, till I felt

The sinews of a giant, and strode on

With supple limbs through seas of solemn sound,

Feeling no weariness, forgetting pain,

And followed by an angel. But this height

Brings organ swells, and crash of lifted trumps,

And sounding odes from choirs whose wings are flame,

Whose harps are moulded in the fires of love,

That I grow big with blessing.

0302The East Coker Poetry Group2007091620070922

East Coker in Somerset was immortalised by Ts Eliot in The Four Quartets and the great poet's ashes are buried in the church. The poetry society, however, meets to enthuse about poetry of any sort which its members have come across and enjoyed. Meeting over a meal in the local pub, they share their latest poetry finds and occasionally hold modest poetry competitions.

0303The Pushkin Club2007092320070929

Formed in 1953 for emigres and lovers of Russian culture, the society still champions the best in Russian poetry, from Anna Akhmatova to an exciting young poet from Azerbaijan.

0304 LASTThe Friends Of The Dymock Poets2007093020071006

The small colony of poets who gathered in a corner of Gloucestershire prior to the First World War left a legacy not only of cherished poetry, but also in the walks and wildlife of the area.