In 2013, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy invited ten of the best UK poets writing today to take part in a series of residencies at the University of Cambridge, supported by Arts Council England. The Thresholds project matched poet Ann Gray with the Botanic Garden.
Ann spent the early part of 2013 with us, both working on a poem inspired by the Garden's collections to contribute to a Thresholds Anthology, and also working in partnership with education staff here to develop creative writing workshops.
The workshops were designed to encourage secondary school age children to engage with the Garden and with poetry for the first time. Ann used language, poetry and the plant collections to encourage the participants to step aboard a green ship and be transported to different lands, to awake all the senses through experiencing the plant diversity here, to find out how plants grow, where they come from and how they got here. What is their evolutionary story and how did they journey across oceans in the pockets of intrepid plant explorers?
The project title, Thresholds, comes from a lecture given by Seamus Heaney when Professor of Poetry at Oxford University: ‘Poetry is more a threshold than a path, one constantly departed from, at which readers and writers undergo, in their different ways, the experience of being at the same time summoned and released.’
To read more about the Thresholds Project and hear Ann Gray's poem 'Pressing Beauty' please follow the links on the left of this page.