Students around Oxford have created a poetry anthology for Oxfam as part of their drive to instigate creative campaigning and fundraising.

The anthology is themed around Oxfam’s current flagship campaign ‘GROW’, which promotes food justice. Rosie Ball, Vice-President of Oxford Students’ Oxfam Group (OSOG), explained, “This anthology is a selection of poems submitted around the theme GROW: growing inside, growing outside, growing around the sides, growing into yourself, growing into your clothes, buying a shirt that’s too big for you and learning how to fit in.”

The theme was interpreted very broadly by 12 poets from different colleges. Phil Coales, President of OSOG told Cherwell, “it opened really strongly with poems by Tyra Lagerberg, Roly Bagnall and Adam Heardman.’

The launch event of the GROW anthology was held on February 25th where featured poets read their work alongside Caroline Bird, former President of Oxford University Poetry Society, who now has three collections published by Carcanet, has twice been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and was made Olympic poet this year. 

This is not the first fundraising project that the Oxford group has embarked upon, in May of this year, OSOG initiated the distribution of hashtagged bananas around Oxford’s landmarks as part of Oxfam’s new Control Arms Campaign. 

Phil Coales said, “In the anthology’s introduction we spoke about the varying different arms of the campaign: resisting land grabs, climate change and food price spikes and promoting sustainable, small-scale farming.“

‘As a poet myself (one of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year in 2009), I think engaging the poetic imagination can convey the meaning of something in a way which even the most concise leaflet or description given at a Freshers’ Fair stall cannot do.”

Bagnall commented, “The anthology seemed like a chance to see what sort of poetry students were writing around the university, and whether it was any good.”