Pubs, poems, positivity: National poem of thanks to resilient publicans and ‘Winter Warmers’ pub poetry collection unveiled
A ‘National Poem of Thanks to Our Nation’s Publicans’ has been released today by arts project INN CROWD and Pub is The Hub to thank publicans for their resilience and continuing support of their local communities during this Covid-19 pandemic, despite the huge challenges they continue to face themselves.
The poem’s release marks the launch of a ‘Winter Warmers’ campaign, a collaboration between INN CROWD and Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit independent organisation that offers specialist advice on the diversification of services at rural pubs and ways publicans can support their local communities.
The ‘Winter Warmers’ initiative is based on a collection of seven heart-warming poems about pubs, specially commissioned by INN CROWD, who work with pubs to provide them access to professional live literature, which is specially commissioned for pub audiences.
The poems have been written by poets in six regions across England, with the initiative aiming to bring cheer and hope to publicans, their staff and their communities and to help keep people connected during this challenging start to 2021 with this current lockdown.
Watch the ‘Winter Warmers’ poem here: https://inncrowd.org.uk/winter-warmers/
Praise for resilient publicans
The thank you poem for publicans is called the ‘The Public House’. It has been written and performed by poet and actress Alexandra Ewing, the daughter of a former publican who grew up in pubs in Suffolk. Ewing also, until last year, worked for a decade as front of house staff in the hospitality industry, including pubs.
Alexandra Ewing said: “I hope the poem will make publicans really smile and that they will feel incredibly proud of how much talent they have and how much their presence is felt, even when it doesn’t feel like it is.”
Victoria MacDonald, publican of the Cellar House in Eaton, near Norwich, said: “After such a tough 2020 for the pub industry and such a challenging start to 2021 it is wonderful that Pub is The Hub and INN CROWD have thanked publicans in this way. It is a really beautiful and touching poem.”
Watch the thank you poem here: www.inncrowd.org.uk/2021/01/13/alexandra-ewing-the-public-house-rumbles/
‘Pubs still key hubs of support’
During this lockdown many pubs have again been offering essential services to people in their local communities, including phone support to those at risk of loneliness, grocery shops, takeaway and delivery food and meals for the elderly and those financially stretched.
John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub, said: “Despite the immense challenges and pressures publicans have endured, and continue to face during this pandemic and current lockdown, many pubs are still a key hub of practical and wellbeing support for many people in their local communities.”
He adds: “Publicans and their teams have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help support others and keep them safe and we wanted to do something to say a special thank you and recognise their efforts. We hope they enjoy these lovely poems.”
Postcards of positivity
Many publicans are sharing the ‘Winter Warmers’ poems with their locals on social media or putting them up as posters in pub windows.
Selected pubs around the country are also receiving ‘postcards of positivity’, featuring the ‘Winter Warmers’ poem written by the poet from their region. The idea is for publicans to use the postcards to help spread cheer and keep them connected with people in their local community. Publicans are planning to use the postcards in food boxes, in takeaway and delivery food bags and to reach out to customers who may be at risk of experiencing feelings of loneliness.
Positive collaboration of arts and pubs
The ‘Winter Warmers’ campaign sees two industries, pubs and the arts, which are among the sectors most detrimentally impacted by the pandemic join forces in a positive collaboration.
INN CROWD’s Dawn Badland said: “These two sectors make an invaluable contribution to our society, and it is brilliant to be able to come together with Pub is The Hub to do something positive for the publicans and artists working in these hard-hit industries.”
INN CROWD will continue to support local pubs this year through its bespoke events which help keep publicans connected with their communities and also with digital poetry performances which will enable them to reach a wider audience, whether people can make it to the pub or not.
Its work last year included residencies with pubs to help support artists, publicans and their communities. Remotely delivered residencies included a lockdown zoom sharing of audio stories with locals of The Dog Inn, Belthorn, Lancashire and a new song written for the community of The White Lion in Selling, Kent, celebrating the rich tradition of carol singing in pubs. Before Christmas INN CROWD also released a short collection of poems by poet Arji Manuelpillai, who worked with the community of Allhallows in Kent, conducting remote phone meetings to devise the collection.