Our community engagement programme aims to expand poetry beyond the “usual places” and “usual suspects”, making it a fun and inspiring element of people’s everyday lives. To do this in 2023, we are building on existing professional relationships and connections, supporting and facilitating our partner organisations in achieving their aims through our collaboration. 

This year will see us working with three different communities.

Open Book

We continue our partnership with Open Book, enabling us to work with the communities they support from Shetland to the Borders and with people from many different walks of life. We will also be working with the National Library of Scotland as the Open Book participants respond to the prompt of “journey” and are inspired by the fascinating Liston Archive. 

The Listons’ time in the United States coincided with a significant and unstable period in British-American relations. Henrietta’s travel journals yield insights into this relationship and illuminate America’s post-war political climate and society. Writers from Open Book groups across Scotland have created new work in response to the letters, diaries and ephemera of Henrietta Liston to share at PTBO festival.

We are so proud to work with Open Book and the people they support. Their incredible groups offer over 1200 shared reading and creative writing sessions each year, for public participants across Scotland and a broad range of diverse communities including New Scots, LGBTQ+ communities, older people, people experiencing a range of health conditions and people in prison.


SCOREscotland work with partners to address the causes of racism and to provide support to families and young people who struggle with its effects. Their goal is to strengthen communities and to enable people to take an active and full part in community life.

We are delighted to be partnering with them and with poet and rapper, Bee Asha, to offer a series of workshops to empower young people and offer them the opportunity to express themselves through poetry..

This will result in a performance at the 2023 festival where Bee Asha will support the young people to share their creative voices for the first time.

BSL Workshops

Having offered BSL interpreted events at both of our first two festivals we are aiming to engage with the Deaf community on a deeper level. Poetry created in BSL can be very different from poetry written in English and translated to BSL. Direct translation can be challenging and aspects like rhyme, metaphor and other literary devices don’t always make sense in BSL. Similarly translation of BSL Poetry to English can lose much of the visual beauty and meaning

We want to acknowledge these differences and make our festival much more welcoming to D/deaf audiences. To start this process and conversation, in additon to a number of BSL interpreted events, we’ll be offering two BSL only workshops.

The first will take place online and look at BSL Poetry films, offering a space to discuss and enjoy poetry and ponder its meanings. 

The second will be in person and take place at the festival and will be an opportunity for Deaf people to explore making their own poetry and how the visual aspects of BSL feed into that.

Developing Your BSL Poetry

Both workshops will be run by Bea Webster-Mockett. Bea Webster (they/them) is a Deaf queer non-binary Scottish-Thai actor, writer and access consultant. Bea graduated with a BA Performance in British Sign Language and English from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Bea’s recent theatre credits include Everyday (Deafinitely Theatre), Red (Polka Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (Royal Shakespeare Company), Holding/Holding On (National Theatre of Scotland).

Kyra Pollitt will co facilitate the online workshop. Dr Kyra Pollitt is a translator and interpreter of over 30 years’ standing. Her PhD explored the nature of poetics in natural sign languages. Her translations of British Sign Language poetry have been awarded prizes and publication, and she has occasionally received similar for her original English language poetry. She is a former Board member of the Scottish Poetry Library.

Past Engagement Projects