Image of Amy Wolstenholme reading her poem at the London Peace Symposium

PhD student performs poem for peace at London Peace Symposium

Amy Wolstenholme presented her poem Inner Peace to prestigious guests at a Peace Symposium in London after winning a poetry competition.

Amy, a biochemist studying the intricacies of DNA replication, won first prize in a writing challenge on the Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network earlier this year.

The challenge was set by poet Seán Hewitt and explores moments of inner peace, as part of a wider Poetry and Peace project created in partnership between The Poetry Society and Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden.

Part of Amy’s prize was to attend the recent Peace Symposium at London’s Guildhall and to perform her poem to prestigious guests including leaders from numerous cultural, intellectual, and diplomatic fields, who were there to discuss the evolving role of public spaces as the platform for peacebuilding and community engagement.

She was accompanied on stage by poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley who had been commissioned by The Poetry Society to write a new poem about peace called ‘Weather’.

This was the second of six Peace Symposia by Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden, which will visit every continent between 2022 and 2024. An anthology of poetry from across all continents all about peace is also being created - and Amy’s poem will feature in that anthology.

She said: “I had an absolutely amazing time. The entire symposium was based around the idea of unity and peace through nature and art.

“On Monday evening I attended a reception at the US embassy. It was spectacular and beautiful. I met many incredible people. A lot of them seemed to enjoy the fact that I was a scientist and a poet!

“On Tuesday I attended a four-hour symposium at the Guildhall in London. It was phenomenal and emotional to hear from so many passionate people. Reading my poem and seeing that it resonated with the room meant so much to me.”

Inner Peace

Amy Wolstenholme

I ask the moth how to live and it tells me of the perfect moon
I ask the worm how to live and it tells me of the perfect root
I ask the bird how to live and it tells me of the worm
I ask the trees and they say: child, remain deep
, I ask the bees and they say: kid, never settle. Dance.

Where should I be then, and how should I go? I ask.

I ask the snail that has made a home in my shoe
I ask the skyscraper that houses people like snails
I ask the black eye of the storm, chase my tail,
talk back to the wind, I walk the length of the pier
until I am worn and the pier unchanged, as the sea dances
and remains in place.

One day you will stumble upon the stillness
of the woods after rain, upon that vast and gentle
conversation, sky to earth, and you will forget to ask.

One day you will hold the curve of your own face
with the same reverence you hold for stars, close your eyes,
say spontaneously, silently:        Here.

                                                    A dancing light.
                                                    A locked room.