WHARFEDALE’S wordsmiths have been selecting their favourite poems for a new online collection.

Otley Town Poet Matthew Hedley Stoppard is among the writers who have contributed to Poetry Keeps.

The project was inspired by both Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs - where famous guests pick their most cherished songs - and the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

It has resulted in a website, poetrykeeps.uk, that showcases poems that have made a lasting impression on the numerous contributors.

Poetry Keeps founder Jane Kite, a poet and publisher, said: ““I had the idea for Poetry Keeps a while ago and when we were locked down it seemed the ideal time to get it going.

“It’s fascinating reading everyone’s choices of poems and the meaning of them in their lives, and it’s kept us all connected while we haven’t been able to meet in person.

“All the participants are local poets and it’s great to see the poems that matter to them and what has influenced their own writing.”

Each Poetry Keeps member has their own section on the website which lists their chosen works and explains why they have been chosen.

Each title also has a link to the poem itself or recordings of a reading.

Mr Stoppard - who as Otley’s Town Poet uses his literary skills to “promote Otley locally, regionally and nationally as a town where words and culture are welcomed and valued’ - says a ‘treasure trove of verse’ awaits anyone who visits the site.

The Poetry Keeps scheme got underway in March after the coronavirus lockdown began and members of the Otley Poetry Society Stanza group couldn’t meet in person any more.

A number of the group have had full collections of their works published and are competition winners. The Poetry Keeps contributors are: Angela Beese, Anne Maney, Ben Lowe, Bruce Barnes, Boltini, Brighid Webster, Gail Mosley, Helen Sellers, Jane Kite, Joanna Sedgwick, Jo Peters, Matthew Hedley Stoppard, Mike Baynham, Noel Whittall, Pamela Scobie, Rob Miles, Rosalind York, Ruth Kelsey, Sandra Burnett, Sharon Phillips, Simon Currie, Sue Butler and Terry O’Connor.