As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, Leeds Trinity is publishing 'Inspiring Futures', an anthology which features poetry from our students, staff and alumni. Before launching the anthology on Wednesday 22 March we asked 2014 English graduate, Laura Newsholme, to share her thoughts on the collection.
As Oz Hardwick, the editor of this collection of poems states in his foreword, we are most certainly living in interesting times.
Many of us struggle to find anything inspiring in our futures and live in a constant state of apathy brought on by fear and disillusionment. So, it was with trepidation and a deep breath that I embarked on this collection, Inspiring Futures knowing in my heart of hearts, that my capacity for inspiration was at a very low ebb.
I should perhaps also insert a disclaimer here - I personally do not like poetry as a general rule, or rather, it just doesn't speak to me in the same way that prose does. I often find it too enigmatic for my taste and can become frustrated by the poet's insistence on difficulty. If you have a point to make, I believe the strength needed to stand up and state it clearly can be equally as inspiring as the ability to create an interesting rhyme scheme or sentence structure. What I do find inspiring in poetry, however, is the absolute attention to detail that the poet imbues. They agonise over every word. There is nothing written carelessly or without great thought. That is something that I can truly admire, while not always understanding the outcome.
And so, I began my voyage into Inspiring Futures and much to my delight, I did find poems within that genuinely spoke to me, that I found such honesty and truth in and that brought a smile to my face. The first such of these, is 'The Time Machine Arrives' by Miles Salter. Who of us has not wished to be able to travel back in time to right the errors we believe we made in our past that led us to our present? I know that I have. This is not a happy thought, but it is an honest one and that pain, while raw, is something that collectively, we can associate with. The ability to cover our flaws, as Sofia Buck demonstrates in 'Portraiture', is overwhelmingly prevalent in modern society. We are barraged with conflicting opinions day after day - be yourself, as long as who you are isn't too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too pretty, not pretty enough, too liberal, too conservative and on and on. In 'Spinning', Carmel Flynn opens a window on to the world of modern exercise and modern education, both of which can be a terrifying prospect or an inspirational force depending on your outlook. This educational theme and indeed, the notion of fitting in with pre-conceived expectation, runs deeply through my favourite poem of the collection, 'Teacher Life' by Natalie West. Finally, Gill Lambert encourages us to carry on, in her poem, 'Change Here', and while sometimes it may seem impossible, all we can ever do is keep moving forward.
The future waits for no-one, as someone far wiser than me once said, and this collection of poems celebrating 50 years of the little university that could, shows us that despite setbacks and pitfalls, all of our futures can truly be inspiring. We just have to look at them through the right lens.