“I dream”: a crowd-sourced poem with lines by Young Poets Networkers

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival logo, on the theme of The One and the Many

On the weekend of 9-11 March 2018, The Poetry Society took part in BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival in Gateshead – a weekend of events examining the fast-changing relationship between the individual and the crowd. We asked individual subscribers to the Young Poets Network ebulletin to contribute to a crowd-sourced poem specially written for the festival. The two-minute poem we created from your lines was read on the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Show on Saturday. Thank you to everyone who sent us their ‘I Dream’ lines – we picked around 30 from the 90 submissions to create the finished piece.

Read the crowd-sourced poem now. You can listen to Julia Bird, The Poetry Society’s Projects Manager, reading the poem on BBC Radio 3 on BBC iPlayer. You can also catch her reading her poembola poem at Sage Gateshead as part of the festival.

We asked poet Julia Bird about how she chose which lines to incorporate.

Thank you for entrusting me with your dreams, YPNers! I printed out all your individual dreams on slips of paper and scattered them round my sitting room floor to get a sense of the general mood of the 2018 dreamer. There were a lot of political dreams, some yearning after the big abstractions, some lovely particularities that can only have come from actual middle-of-the-night dreams. The other big general categories were love and the landscape. Wanting to represent that mix fairly, I kept the ratios roughly the same. The lines which jumped out were the ones with very specific imagery. We all dream of world peace, for example, but only some writers locate that peace in a precisely identifiable place and time. Show not tell, that hoary old instruction, was useful for me here. There were some lines which rhymed by happy accident, so I made a section from them, and I also looked for varieties of line length and syntax to give the poem a mixture of speeds. Hopefully, there’s a sense of moving through the poem – beginning with a desire for a particular skill, and ending with a bold established identity. Dream on, YPNers!

Contributions came from countries around the world, including Britain, India, Italy, Singapore, USA and South Africa. The youngest writer was 7 and the oldest 25.

The authors of these lines are Abby Aitken, Ava Gwenan John, Benjamin Stocker, Beth Bayliss, Chloe Fletcher, Cia Mangat, Eurion Gwyn John, Felix Stokes, Francesca Weekes, Imogen Usherwood, Iona Mandal, Josiah Mortimer, Katherine Almquist, Lucy Ryan, Lydia Wei, Meg Ozia Stockwell, Prisha Pahariya, Taylor Fang, Weina Jin, William Ridgeon.

Thank you to Ahlaam Moledina, Aisha Awan, Ananya Guru Sangameshwar, Arna Kar, Austin Keane, Brodie McCloy, Christopher Clay, Cristiana Dess Coleman, Evie Wills, Jade Wild, Khadija Elrabti, Kira Lewis, Leona Kamuhangire, Lovein Sui, Martha Kean, Mary Webster, Matilda Leonard, Meghna Chatterjee, Meredith LeMaître, Natalie Leigh McQuillan, Phoebe Blake, Rachel Kavanagh, Rohan C, Romany Stott, Sandy Berry, Sarah Chtioui, SS Dheda, Theophilus ‘Femi Alawonde and Tia Owen for sending us their contributions.

Julia Bird. Photo credit: Kevin Rutterford.

Julia Bird grew up in Gloucestershire and now lives in London, where she works for the Poetry Society as Projects Manager, and as an independent literature producer at her own company Jaybird Live Literature. Hannah and the Monk, her first poetry collection, was published by Salt in 2008, and Twenty-Four Seven Blossom, was published in 2013. Now You Can Look, an illustrated poetry pamphlet, was published by The Emma Press in 2017. www.juliabird.wordpress.com @juliamarybird

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