Merton College Poetry Society

Merton College Poetry Society is a Merton-based but University-wide poetry society.
The Poetry Society Committee 2019-20 - from left: Luke Bateman, Verity Stuart and Julianna Barker

What a year it has been for MCPS! We have continued to publish a termly poetry pamphlet titled Pekes and Pollicles, with this academic year seeing the third through fifth editions shared. We’ve published 51 poems from 36 poets, from multiple colleges and even outside Oxford University’s community. We also celebrated each pamphlet with a launch event. Michaelmas and Hilary’s launches were hosted in the Merton JCR and saw an excellent turnout of poets and listeners. Circumstances meant that Trinity’s launch had to be hosted via video conferencing, but this didn’t deter 30 people tuning in from around the world.

MCPS has been hosting plenty of other events too. We kicked off the new decade with an evening of Hopeful Poetry, with 20 people gathering to share poems that filled them with ambition and optimism for the future. Many of the attendees brought along poems they’d found, but we were also delighted to hear poems written specifically for the evening. We also, in Trinity, hosted a virtual open mic night themed around Diversity and Equality, in collaboration with Merton’s JCR Access and Equality representative and Oxford University Poetry Society. This saw students from a diverse range of communities come together to share poems that spoke to their experience.

Our biggest event of the year was also a collaboration with Oxford University Poetry Society, as well as United Women. This was our Poetry and Prosecco: Feminist Poetry evening, which saw over 60 people in attendance! The evening featured three professional poets- Michaella Batten, Jennifer Wong and Laura Scott- sharing their poems with us, as well as a variety of fantastic amateur women* poets performing as part of an Open Mic. It was a wonderful evening and a delight to take part in.

We’ve also been doing a lot to nurture and encourage new poetry. As well as featuring the voices of new poets in our pamphlets, we’ve begun to host poetry workshops where Oxford poets can gather together to work on their poetry. We also, in the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown, ran a series on Facebook sharing poems written by quarantined poets. It was a fun, and often poignant, experience for all involved.

With the year coming towards an end, we’d like to thank all the wonderful poets and students we’ve talked and listened to this year. Here’s to a wonderful 2020/21!

Luke Bateman and Rachel Jung