CAPTION: Inner Room Poetry Group

Church Poetry and Creative Writing Group “Creates Space for People to Be Creative”

Posted: 12th October, 2021

A poetry and creative writing group which was started by an Exeter church to “create space for people to be creative” has published its first anthology.

The Watchful Heart is a collection of poems and prose written by members of the Inner Room group.

The poems range in subject from making marmalade to meteor showers and wasp stings.

It is based at St Stephen’s Church in the parish of Central Exeter, although it has been meeting online during the pandemic.

The group is led by the poet Helen Evans.

Imo Walsh, from Ide, is one of the writers who has contributed to the anthology

Speaking at a launch event and poetry reading for the anthology at St Stephen’s on National Poetry Day, Helen said “I’m hugely grateful and excited.

“The anthology is the culmination of two years hard work by the participants of the Inner Room.

“They have really put their heart and soul into it and they have produced some stunning work.”

Helen said she was inspired to start the group after doing an Exploring Christian Spirituality course and completing the Foundations in Christian Ministry Course, run by the South West Ministry Training Course on behalf of the Diocese of Exeter.

She said “I’ve had a sense of calling around my poetry writing and poetry teaching for at least the last decade.

“When I came to the parish of Central Exeter five years ago I was trying to explore how that might work in practice.

“The parish has been absolutely magnificent in supporting this as a pioneer lay ministry. We launched it literally a week before the first lockdown.

“Since then we have had more than 100 meetings with 34 regular participants.”

“I believe that whether or not we call ourselves Christian the Holy Spirit is working within us, so if we create a space for people to be creative then that, in itself, is a small step towards the Kingdom of God.”

Imo Walsh, a member of the group, said “I hadn’t really written poetry before and approached it with some trepidation, but Helen was a remarkable tutor and I was put at my ease very soon.

“The very act of writing at the same time as everyone else at a very difficult time in our lives, even though I could only see them as small boxes on Zoom, got me going.

Imo, whose poem Clearing the Orchard, contains the line “Nothing is wasted. Nothing is for nothing. I bear the scars” said she planned to continue writing poetry going forward.