Thanks to poet Harry Laing (see this site’s A to Z database), I learnt this week of the existence in Sydney of The Red Room Company. It is a not-for-profit organisation that creates unusual and useful poetry projects which transform expectations of, and experiences with, poetry. Its website says it aspires to make poetry accessible to all, especially those who face the greatest barriers to creative opportunities.
Its public arts projects focus on developing imaginative contexts in which poetry can be creatively and critically explored. It supports the work of young and emerging writers and is the pre-eminent commissioner of contemporary Australian poetry.
Through Red Room Poetry Education the company inspires students and teachers to create, perform and publish poetry. Bringing contemporary poets into classrooms to run workshops, it uses language to engage students, and to enhance creativity, personal growth, and communication.
The Red Room Company emerged from the Red Room Radio show on 89.7fm Eastside Radio, which was produced and presented by Johanna Featherstone, from 2001. The show broadcast original poetry, writing, reviews and interviews with Australian writers, its focus was on bringing new poetry and writing to a wide audience that included poets, poetry lovers and listeners who were unfamiliar with poetry.
In 2002, the Red Room Epic project was created, commissioning 30 writers under 35 years of age to write poetry for national community radio broadcast and online. Poets were interviewed and an audio epic poem was crafted. This project won the prestigious ‘Best New Innovative Radio Program’ at the 2002 National Community Radio awards run by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.
By the end of 2002, the Red Room Radio show and the Red Room Epic Project had developed a network of poets and poetry supporters Australia-wide. In order to continue creating original poetry-inspired projects Johanna Featherstone established The Red Room Company and has served since then as its Artistic Director.
For more information, check out the company’s website http://redroomcompany.org/