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Notes from an empath: By any other name...

Do you have a nickname?

I have had a few. Some are affectionate, some are strange, and some -- that are still used to this day -- are wonderfully goofy ... the result of having delightfully silly siblings!

However, the nickname rolling around my mind at the moment was given to me during my Theatre and Development MA Studies at the University of Leeds. Thanks to my aptitude for making plans and organising events -- like the Xmas pub meal for our MA cohort -- one of my colleagues named me Coordinator Rose.

Okay, so it’s not a very sexy title. In fact, you might say it is rather nerdy. But ... it is accurate.

I love coordinating events and planning projects that bring people together. The word ‘coordinator’ has been in many of my job titles -- including my current role with Arts Emergency. Words like ‘engagement’ and ‘community’ put a spring in my step. As anyone who has ever been to one of my dinner parties can attest, getting folks to gather for food and fellowship is my jam! It was, therefore, an utter delight to coordinate a cross-continental community event this past weekend.

Yesterday I hosted an online event called #HavePoemsWillTravel, in celebration of World Poetry Day 2021. We connected with 3 continents across 5 time zones to feature 20 poets and performers from 7 countries. Audiences from far and wide tuned in, and the event raised over £200 for Salford Foodbank and Harvest Manitoba. It generated a bit of buzz, with features in Salford Now and on CBC Manitoba’s Up to Speed radio programme. It was a feat of preparation and planning, involving emails, Eventbrite, and several colour-coded Excel spreadsheets.

Screenshot of some of the #HavePoemsWillTravel audience and performers.

Can you spot my brother Graham ... see what I mean about wonderfully silly siblings!?

My project management prowess was in full swing, but beyond the nuts and bolts mechanics of it all was something truly special. Across all our screens, we heard words that stirred our spirits and soothed our souls. The performances were compelling, with poems and stories that were funny, sad, resonant and inspiring. Zoom -- being the great geographic equalizer that it is right now -- provided a digital platform for connection, compassion and empathy.

There was much joy in this journey of words, and we may do it again next year. Perhaps by World Poetry Day 2022, we will be able to gather as groups in different parts of the globe. But for now, I will reflect on the immense gratitude that I feel. I am so grateful to those who tuned in to watch, and to the wonderful performers: Jimmy Andrex, Mary Black, Invi Brenna, Sue Clark, Jeremy Goldstein, Pauline Hanson Gilman, Ciarán Hodgers, Sarah L Dixon, Felix Owusu-Kwarteng, Lyndsay Price, Shereen Ramrashad, Izzy Schmier, Fiona Smith, Jules Stevenson, Tim Taylor, Alex Tyler, Helen Young, Kim Zeglinski, and Sonia Zoref.

There was such kindness in last night’s collective creative celebration. It may have been Coordinator Rose who set it all up, but the meaning and magic of the event was made possible by everyone involved.


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