The Sword Forge Collective was founded by Kathryn O’Driscoll in February 2022 with the goals of sharpening poet’s skills, enabling a sharing of knowledge and passion, and to create a space in which poets could forge their words into tools to create social change. The collective formally began its first year on April 30th 2022.
The name came about in a conversation between the first three founding members O’Driscoll, Cal Wensley and Tyjana Howard, with “sword” being a play on Spoken Word. The logos and website were created by O’Driscoll.
The first years membership were all invited to participate, based on each person having been in a learning environment with another member of the collective, or having been in a situation in which they both gave and received support in a way that made a lasting impact. A lot of our members have been, in some way or another, involved in the inter-University competition Uni Slam, the Bath Spa University team of which O’Driscoll coached from 2017 – 2022. This initial coaching relationship was a large part of the inspiration for creating a long lasting collective experience.
A smaller number of the members are referred to as the Founding Members, they help decide the direction of the collective for that year and guide the decisions being made about how things are run.
You can meet the collective here. The members list is in alphabetical order, with the founding members at the top followed by our members!
The collective’s primary goals (for 2022-2023)
– Provide workshops that will teach key elements of page and spoken word poetry, share examples of techniques as used in contemporary poetry, and exercises that will generate new work.
– Build a sense of community for the collective, and a sense of the collective identity. We aim to be inclusive, curious and supportive (not only of each other, but of the wider poetry community too!)
– Share resources, from opportunities, events, competitions, to advice on things that sometimes feel too scary to ask for help with: like poetry C.V.’s, portfolios, academia and applying to bigger opportunities.
– To uplift all members of the collective, encourage their growth, experimentation, artistic process and endeavours.
– To have regular feedback circles as a safe place for writers to share new work in a way that is not classified as published.
– Providing the opportunity for all members to facilitate conversations or workshops if they want to share the things they are passionate about.
– Support artists in trying new things, be open and honest about the obstacles we have and use our collective brainpower to see what adjustments or adaptations could be made to make new ventures possible for all.
and what about next year?
In this first year we are running under the assumption that each year the membership of the collective may change completely. In February 2023, all the members status’ will be reviewed and we will think about if the collective could handle more members, or if it needs to be smaller.
It is worth mentioning that our initial long list for potential collective members was over double our final list, so if you missed out this year that doesn’t mean you aren’t on our radar.
Our current plan is for there to be open applications from interested poets for future years, but we will know more after our 6 month review on how things are going. So watch this space. (If you are interested in joining in a future year, follow us on social media to be alerted as to when that process begins!)