Rugby World Cup cultural festival launches Power of Poetry in northern England

A poetic new initiative aims to win the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of sports fans this fall. Four large moving works of art, titled The Power of Poetry, have embarked on a tour across the north of England as part of the Rugby World Cup cultural festival.

Inspired by the Rugby World Cup slogan ‘The Power of Together’, artist and poet Robert Montgomery has teamed up with Emergency Exit Arts and eight poets to create four striking double-sided poems.

The new mobile poems explore themes of inclusivity, the joy of reconnecting through sport after lockdowns, and the dynamic nature of rugby league.

Mounted on the back of trailers, the poems will travel across the North, with the four stopping off at locations in and around the Rugby World Cup Culture Festival partner cities of Newcastle, Leeds, Hull and Manchester . They will appear in stadiums in civic squares, libraries and local rugby league clubs with the aim of nurturing the love of poetry.

Mr Montgomery said he likes to experiment with the idea that poets can work together.

He added: “We thought writing in collaboration with a group of poets from Leeds, Hull, Newcastle and Manchester would be a really interesting idea. I’m a huge sports fan and still play football in middle age. 50. We wanted to capture the childhood joy of running across a patch of grass while chasing a ball.

“Rugby League is for me the sport that most faithfully recreates the joy of the ‘British bulldogs’ playground game we played as children.”

Inspired by the Rugby World Cup slogan “The Power of Together”, artist and poet Robert Montgomery has teamed up with Emergency Exit Arts and eight leading poets to create four striking double-sided light poems .

Mr Montgomery said he was particularly inspired by the fact that there will be a Physically Disabled Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup.

“I know how much it means to so many people that people with disabilities will be included. We take art and poetry to the streets to make them accessible. It’s about breaking down boundaries and starting conversations around poetry and art. I hope about a million people will see our work.”

“As the rugby league poems launch in Yorkshire, I have a sculpture to see in the gardens of the Louvre in Paris. So it’s from Leeds to the Louvre this week.”

Power of Poetry is part of the RLWC2021 cultural festival which is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England and run in partnership with Newcastle City Council, the North of Tyne Combined Authority, the Council Municipal of Hull, Leeds 2023 and Libraries Connected.

Katy Fuller of Pinwheel, Creative Director and Producer of the Cultural Festival, said, “We are so fortunate to have been able to bring together such an incredible cohort of poets and artists to create these works.

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Darcy J. Skinner