Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Crowned Warwick Poet Laureate!

Earlier this month, I was delighted to be at the launch of the Warwick Words Festival where I was crowned Poet Laureate for Warwick. It's all been a bit of a whirl since then, and there's plenty to discuss on this new Laureate blog, but first I thought it might be interesting to talk about how the Laureateship came about and what the post actually entails.

Firstly, the Laureateship is decided on the basis of a poetry competition run in conjunction with the annual Warwick Words Literary Festival. In past years, there was only one judge, and only one poem was chosen as overall winner, with the Warwick Laureateship awarded to that poet. Last year's winner was Helen Yendall with her excellent poem 'Kettle'.

For 2007 though, it was decided to make life more difficult for the would-be Laureates. The committee decided that four poems should be submitted. One had to be on the National Poetry Day theme of 'Dreams', and the whole entry had to be accompanied by a Statement of Interest.

Furthermore, the competition was judged by three judges this year: one female, two males. In spite of that slight gender bias - and acknowledging that all entries are judged anonymously - the three top prize-winners were all women!


Anyway, I was delighted to have been chosen as the overall winner, and I'm looking forward to writing poems about Warwick (and Warwickshire) over the coming months.

There will also be community poetry projects for me to arrange or oversee, perhaps some more interviews - the local papers have already been on the phone - and some projects which are either brand-new or entirely connected to my own work as an individual poet.

Launching this special Warwick Laureate blog is my first official task. The blog is designed to provide an online space for people to make contact with me, find out more about contemporary poetry, or touch base with my activities as Warwick Poet Laureate.

So if you have any comments or Warwick-related suggestions for poems or poetic activities, please do drop me an email, leave a comment on this blog, or contact the Warwick Words Festival via their website. Although I often twist commissioned subjects to suit my own individual approach to writing poems, I'm always open to good ideas!

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