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Poets talk about their inspiration and love of words and metaphors ahead of World Poetry Day

Poetry has the power to touch our hearts and minds. Words carefully chosen for their beauty and sound can paint pictures, convey ideas and evoke emotions.

Poet Cherry Doyle, who writes about Cannock Chase
Poet Cherry Doyle, who writes about Cannock Chase

Every year, on March 21, World Poetry Day celebrates this treasured form of cultural and linguistic expression and identity.

The West Midlands has a vibrant and diverse poetry scene. Writers can be found sharing their observations on the world around them as well as their take on relationships and their own life experiences.

There are also poets inspired by the region's rich landscapes, from the urban landmarks of the Black Country to the countryside views and woodlands of Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Among them is Cherry Doyle whose poems are drawn from her love of Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its wildlife.

Her writing centres on nature but it also explores human relationships, feelings and her own place in the world.

"I walk on Cannock Chase nearly every day with my dog, Bonnie. I'm looking at the landscape all the time, I can see the changes through the seasons, the impact of humans and the affects of the climate on it too.

"I regularly go back to the same places and I can see the same things I saw there the year before and that's reassuring," the 36-year-old tells Weekend.

Cherry, who was born in Shrewsbury but now lives on the edge of Cannock Chase, has been writing since she was at school.

"I enjoyed all kings of writing exercises when I was at primary school but it wasn't until I was doing my GCSEs that I realised it was something I really enjoyed and wanted to put some effort into it.

"One of my assignments was to write a story on two pages of A4 - I wrote a whole book, created a fictitious world, made up characters and draw a map for the front of it.

"My teacher was really encouraging, they told me to reach out to some publishers, that it was really good and I should keep writing."

In 2012, while living in Wolverhampton, she joined Blakenhall Writers Group, which was established by Simon Fletcher, a freelance writer, editor and poet, who lives in Oswestry, Shropshire.

"This was the start of me taking writing and poetry much more seriously. I started writing more and more," explains Cherry, who graduated from the Open University with a BA (Hons) degree in humanities, specialising in creative writing, in 2018.

Joining a like-minded community enabled her to develop her writing style and get feedback on her work from fellow writers.

As her experience grew, Simon, who runs Offa's Press, which is dedicated to publishing and promoting contemporary West Midland poetry, invited Cherry to perform at his City Voices event in Wolverhampton.

Poet, writer and editor Simon Fletcher, who runs Offa's Press

"After a couple of years of writing and performing at City Voices, Simon said: I think you've got a good body of work to put together a pamphlet of poetry," she tells Weekend.

Her debut collection of poetry, titled September, was published in 2019 by Offa's Press. Cherry and Simon have also co-edited the Arts Council England-supported anthology In The Sticks, which featured the work of poets from across the region who took part in a series of countryside-themed online workshops.

Cherry, who is a member of Borders Poets, says what she loves about poetry is the "ability to create something beautiful through the the manipulation of words".

"You create an image in people's heads that they emotionally responding to without the showing them the image and you can get an idea across much more concisely," she explains.

Her advice for anyone starting to write poetry or wants to develop their writing further is to join a writer's group.

"It's nice to be part of a community. You are going through the same journey together and you can hear other people's writing and they can hear yours. Joining a writing group is a really positive thing," says Cherry.

Simon, who has won various prizes and awards for his poetry over the years has been writing since he was a teenager after being inspired by William Shakespeare's creative use of words in Henry IV, Part 1. "I was enraptured by it," he tells Weekend.

His first poem was published when he was just 17 and since then the 64-year-old has had four poetry collections and a pamphlet published.

Over the years, he has worked as a teacher, literature development worker and poetry promoter and in 2010 he set up poetry press, Offa's Press.

He has edited numerous books, including last year's New Voices: An anthology of new poets from the West Midlands.

Much of Simon's own poetry centres around love but his writing is also inspired by natural and the environment and he also enjoys light-hearted verses.

"It's important to keep a sense of humour. There's an awful lot of bad things going on in the world, sometimes we all need to have a really good laugh at something daft," he tells Weekend.

As well as the City Voices live poetry event, which takes place on the second Tuesday of the month, he also runs Country Voices in Ironbridge and Virtual Voices online.

Other projects include creative writing workshops in Pant and Mini Mushaira, a collaboration with Debjani Chatterjee, Brian D’Arcy and Basir Sultan Kazmi promoting better intercultural understanding and respect for diversity through multi-lingual poetry readings, workshops and talks.

When asked what he enjoys most about poetry, Simon says: "It's the function of metaphor to paint pictures."

"I think great poetry is where people recognise the pictures and can see the story applies to them. Poetry brings people together, it's one of the most powerful forms of writing."

*The next Virtual Voices takes place on Saturday, March 25, from 5-6.30pm and further details are available at

To find out more about Cherry's work, see and for more information about Simon's poetry, visit

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