Richard O'Brien, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2018-2020, was commissioned to write a poem about our amazing building and all the things that have happened inside its four walls in the past, and today since its new lease of life.

Every word is inspired by a display in The Hive heritage lounge and cafe. We hope you enjoy it!


An Abecedarian for New Standard Works


All of it here, coming out of the ground, off the presses:

        beads underfoot, bangles, bread studded with herbs

               culled fresh from the rooftop farm. Candles and car-parts;


‘Diamonds, Birmingham’ enough to see the telegram reaches its spot.

        Edward Moses Levetus setting up shop, electroplating anything he could

              find. Frank Blanckensee cooking up Canadian gold, and


Graham upstairs turning feathers into gilded leaves.

        How the whole thing turns on the hand, the head and the heart:

                          industry’s seed in the bison drawn in a cave, its horns


jewellery before this city lifted a loupe. Old machines juddering, jangling, this is

                      kinetic, this is the fount of wedding rings and crumpled wrappers,

                                        leather tablemats and stud-boxes and Lovekin suing his factory-


mate for a slice of the silver pie. A muddle of making:

                    necklaces threaded with toothpaste-y copper medallions, next to

                                      Oroton bangles, cream pots, an organic lunch every day


picked straight from the sky, wet felt phone cases; up on the

                    roof, plastic buckets resemble those made here from iron —

                                     quests for the new quite often return to the source.


So many passed through this place; so many remain, soldering, sewing,

                    tying back their hair, their nails chipped, scrubbing the walls

                                        until what history hid comes off in their hands, until


very slowly, with the requisite care, something is revealed

                     which Lovekin, Edward and Frank, might recognise: an

                                         x-ray through to the bones and knuckles of craft.


Years falling away as the bricks emerge from the dirt, as a spark

                     zooms out of a furnace, a sleeper stretches and starts.


Richard performed this poem at our official launch and celebration event for the complete transformation of the ground floor on 7 November 2019.