Poet in Residence

Hello – my name is David Chapple and I am the Centre of Democracy’s Poet in Residence.

I have begun workshops to support the Poet in Residence program at the Centre of Democracy. The idea is to work outside (beyond the walls) the Centre initially and explore the broader ideas that underpin global politics, national identity, community affiliation, personal relationships and even ‘self.’ Following an offsite session we set ourselves up in the Centre to respond to the material on display to create group and individual verse.

I was very happy to be able to work with Common Ground (part of Housing Choices) for our first round of workshops and then to invite them along to the Centre to follow up.

Housing issues and homelessness can effect a very broad swathe of the population and one of the pleasures of working within that sector is the breadth of voices, ideas and experiences that emerge.

Within the participant group there was an age spread of over seventy years and a diverse notion of democracy and community.  There was also a tremendous respect for alternative ideas and narratives so the sessions could ascend into meaningful dialogue where ideas were explored, and this provides a fertile space for poetry.

Together we read work by Wordsworth, Wilde, and Shelley and tried to find a more contemporary language for some of their ideas. I seem to spend my working life setting tasks for people that I’m not confident I could achieve myself and as usual the group produced some powerful verse that was skilled, brave and defied the complexity of the issues and brevity of the time.

The project is at an early stage but already we have used the power of poetry to generate succinct, direct ideas and at the same time to ask challenging questions.

Here is our first group poem, and there will be much more to follow.


Housing Choices 14th November 2017


Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness

And what do we need?

To conform to the voice of the hand that feeds

I am me

Immersed, and outside a community

But eager to change the world. I am

Distilled down

A dot on a landscape of events

I am the quietest voice, almost meditative

Alone, and critical of everything I do

Then told I have equal value

And I have to feel I have equal value.

I can be a mythical force

Loving, kind, sure, unsure

Vast, complex, sure, unsure


We collectively make this world

I will say

Live in your own way

Not too rigid, not too bound

Say your truth

Not too loud


Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness

Just a grand way to state

We must participate.