Paul Cookson Reads two of his poems.

National reading hero and Edge Hill alumnus Paul Cookson is backing Liverpool’s Year of Reading campaign, which the University is supporting to improve literacy across the city.

April is National Poetry Month and Paul, who has worked as a poet since 1989 after qualifying as a teacher, has visited thousands of schools to share his passion for reading with pupils and staff.

When he learnt that his former University was an official partner for #LiverpoolReads – a 12-month initiative launched by Liverpool City Council and key partners – he wanted to get behind the programme to inspire people to spend some quality time with the written word.

Paul said:

“it’s great to see my old University Edge Hill working with Liverpool City Council with the Year of Reading campaign. Now more than ever in this lockdown situation it’s a great time to discover new books, or rediscover old books and just lose yourself in reading, whether it’s poems, stories, comics, or magazines. I love returning to books.”

With more than sixty titles to his name, Paul, who lives in Retford with his wife and several ukuleles, has sold more than three quarters of a million books and was awarded National Reading Hero status in 2008. He is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum, Poetry Ambassador for United Learning, Poet Laureate for Slade and worked as the official poet for the Everton Collection at Liverpool Library. He has recently written a poem for Everton FC called ‘Home’ for their season ticket campaign.

A picture of Dr Helen O'keefe
Dr Helen O’Keefe

Dr Helen O’Keeffe, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education, said:

“We believe that #LiverpoolReads will make a positive difference across the city and I’m delighted that one of our poetry stars is supporting our work to encourage more people to read.

“Reading for pleasure and a love of reading is central to Edge Hill University’s work with the next generation of teachers and those going on to work with children and young people in our local communities. It opens many doors and has the potential to break down so many barriers.

“Reading is a great activity any time, but now more than ever while we are in lockdown, it’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the books you love and discover new ones.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the #LiverpoolReads activities have been postponed but a new Facebook page has been launched by Liverpool City Council, which includes book lists, activities for kids, reviews and regular online story telling sessions to enjoy. Digital access is being offered at Liverpool Central library too.

Cllr Barbara Murray, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills and lead for #LiverpoolReads, said:

“Reading is not only a source of enjoyment and entertainment, but many people also find it a source of solace and comfort and that is what we need in these uncertain times.

“Poetry packs so much meaning into such small spaces and lets us see the world with fresh eyes, so I am delighted that Paul is now on the #LiverpoolReads journey with us – welcome.”

The University’s library within the Catalyst is closed but there are lots of e-books and other online resources available for students and staff to access too.

Liverpool’s Year of Reading is backed by partners including The Reader, Liverpool Learning Partnership, Comics Youth and the Reading Agency.