Meet the man inspiring people with his poetry in London's tube stations and airports

Most of us have probably had a diary at some point in our lives. A place for us to unleash our inner thoughts, worries or concerns. But it always tends to be a personal place, somewhere secret to us. What if your words could help others? What if the words could resonate with the reader? Would you release them to the public? James McInerney did. From playing with words and writing alongside instrumental film scores, James discovered poetry; a hobby that would go on to shape his life. “I never really liked poetry," he said. "Only because we were never taught it at school, you could learn about Shakespeare and that was it. “Then I got into poetry and started to love it. I had a need to write and when I wasn't writing, I felt like something was missing. Then I thought, I wanted to help people. Even before poetry, I always wanted to do something in life, that helped others.” James began generating content and lots of it too. His poems are filled with emotion, his thoughts there for all to see. He’s now the author of six different books, and that content is now being used to speak to people in everyday life. Two years ago, James founded the Poetry Project; an initiative that put his poetry in the public eye. His content has now been published all over the UK.

He said: “Because the work was getting so popular online and people related to the words, we thought ‘why don't we try this outside of the internet? And go into the real world with it?’ “So I started to message the London Underground and it went from there. I said to them we've got a project, we've got these words and they basically featured me on the service information boards. I was like 'wow!' I didn't think anything about the project at that point, I was just happy to have my words on the Underground. "Then every day over Christmas in 2018, we were at a different station. We went from there to train stations and then to airports. We've been at London Stansted for over a year now daily.

"London Stansted actually bought a digital board for the project, which was amazing. Then from there, last year, we went all over the UK, we went into shopping centres, we went into gyms, schools, universities, parks, all over London as well.” With James’ content all over the UK, he began setting his sights further afield. “At the end of the first year, I reached out to two places in Australia and America, but America is a different kettle of fish," he explained. "I've had lots of meetings with mental health awareness, they are well behind. And a lot of people I've spoken to in mental health awareness charities will agree to that.

“But we went to Oregon in America and my poetry was all over the mall. To have that in a place that doesn't really look at mental health awareness, was like ‘wow’.

“They need that kind of thing. To see it on display of what they're feeling, they were blown away. I actually had a message from a woman in America, that basically on that day, was going to commit suicide.

“But she went to the mall, saw the project and then said 'I'm just so happy I went to the mall that day'. So the project made her stop and think because they're not used to seeing that in America, they're not used to seeing how people feel on display. "So we've got a big challenge in America, but we're going to continue that and keep moving forward, it's a challenge and I'll love it.” It isn’t just James leading the poetry charge. He’s now been supported by a range of different UK and US actors who have acted and read his poetry out. Maxine Peake, Naz Perez and Lewis Reeves are just three of those who’ve been involved, but there’s plenty more to come. “I've been really lucky," he said. "It's been a lot of work to get them. We've got a load more coming up and I'm working with actors, from Netflix and things like that!

"We approach them, or they know friends and approach them, or they know someone who knows someone who messages me and we go over the whole project and I explain to them about the project and what I've done with my life and they're like 'when do I start?' They love the idea of the project and helping people. “We started off just using Youtubers. I found some actors and we kind of levelled up and started getting actors from films and TV and we thought 'okay wow, we should probably continue with this', because people know them and it'll get a better feel for the project and it just went from there. “So we've got some amazing things coming up for the rest of the year, some people that I haven't even announced yet that are just like 'wow' so I'm excited!

“I feel like this is a calling for me. I wasn't interested in poetry but poetry's changed my life so I'm going to use that to help other people.” You can see all of James’ work on social medial platforms (@Millsmc07) or you can find James’ books on Amazon here.

You can listen to our interview with James in full on our podcast

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