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Two residents from the Coronation Homes retirement community in Hilsea are celebrating the publication of their collection of poetry. The women turned to writing poetry as a way of coping with the isolation of lockdown and between them the novice poets have penned over 60 poems in recent months. Their work has now been turned into a book with support from Portsmouth City Council and local publisher Chaplin Books.

The project was the brainchild of Coronation Homes resident and retired youth worker, Wendy James, as the women sought out a new hobby to keep themselves connected and occupied while they were isolating. The poems by Wendy and fellow resident Pamela Cook focus on life, laughs and lockdown and cover a wide variety of themes such as, family, work, growing older, and the impact of the pandemic.

Over 130 copies of their poetry collection, called Two Spring Chickens, are now being distributed among the community at Coronation Homes as well as at libraries and community centres across Portsmouth.

Retired youth worker and Coronation Homes poet, Wendy James, comments: “It’s a dream come true to see our poems published as a real book! This started as a lockdown project to keep ourselves busy but we’ve discovered a new love for poetry. Writing has really helped us reflect on everything that’s been happening in recent months and we can’t wait to share our poems with everyone else.”

Hilsea’s local ward councillors have contributed £600 to fund the publication of the book through their available Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The Community Infrastructure Levy raises funds from developers who are undertaking new building projects in the area, allowing councillors to reinvest back into the local community.

Cllr Steve Pitt, the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development and Deputy Leader, comments: “The creation of Wendy and Pamela’s book goes to show how people are coming together to find a positive way through challenging times. By using CIL funding to support the publication and distribution of their book across the city, we hope many people will discover these budding local poets and take inspiration from these fantastic women.”