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I’m Jason Conway, a member of The Gloucester Poetry Society. I fell in love with poetry last year when my friend Zack introduced me to a new poetry group that he was starting up.

I would love to have a book published to celebrate the poetry of our members and I need your help to make it a reality. I came up with the idea in July and I’ve been organising the submissions for this and I now have all of the content ready. With your help, the book will be printed locally if we can reach the target.

The Gloucester Poetry Society (GPS) started as an idea by Zack Dicks (the societies founder) to create an all inclusive poetry group and share the power of poetry to the city of Gloucester and its vibrant and diverse communities. This idea became a Facebook group in October 2016 and in just 10 months we have over 400 members, across the UK and internationally.

Poetry quickly became a passion of mine and I’ve met many great people through the society and made some great new friends as well. Now I’m an active member helping to promote the society and its events. There are a core group of volunteers that do their best to spread the word about what we are doing, however, we really need your support to make the book happen and put Gloucester firmly on the map for poetry.

The book will be the Societies first ever annual publication and will celebrate the rich diversity and talent of the societies members, who come from all walks of life. Some use poetry as therapy to manage difficult past experiences, others are just starting to write for the first time as well as established and published poets, slam winners, or people using poetry to have a voice to express their emotions.

The Society will be holding Gloucester’s first ever poetry festival, spanning 4 days in October 2017, in pubs and bars in the city. We need your support and funding to promote and market the festival to the local and regional community, and across the Midlands and the South West of England too, to encourage poetry lovers to come to the festival. The proceeds from book sales will be able to help with this, but we would love for people to get involved in any way they can to help spread the word!

So why poetry, and why now? Poetry is such a powerful and expressive form of communication that can help people through loss, trauma, mental health issues, rehabilitation as well as having the power to inspire people to speak up and express themselves. All of these factors mean that the society has the potential to help a wide range of people – to embrace poetry as a new form of expression. Mindfulness is very much in the public spotlight today and poetry can be a very transformative experience for both the writer and the audience. We hope to inspire people to write poetry and also offer support and advice to poets from all backgrounds and abilities. Our motto perfectly sums up what we stand for ‘Poetry without pretension’. We already have a mix of traditional poets, slam and spoken word artists as members and we greatly encourage the sharing of ideas and experimenting with forms.

I really hope that you can help me to reach the target and make this book happen. If you love poetry, please help to spread the word and make the city of Gloucester a cultural centre for poetry!