Last night, twelve talented poets performed at the Swan Theatre to be crowned Poet Laureate of Worcestershire, the coveted position previously held by the irrepressible Theo Theobald. He was there as a judge along with the County Arts Officer, Stephen Wilson, the current young poet laureate, Rowan Standish-Holmes and the Worcestershire Literary Festival director, Lisa Ventura. Tonight, these four really had the work cut out for them!
Each of the twelve poets had to recite two poems of their own creation. One of them had to be on the theme of diamonds in recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the second one could be about anything they wanted. The candidates were as follows:
1) Timothy P Stewart – a man whose passion for writing came from his desire to tell his children stories. His poetry proved to be a very moving and thought provoking start to the evening.
2) Amy Rainbow – The current Malvern Poetry Slam Champion. Specializing in lyrical, rhyming poetry, she told the story about her defection to the Women’s Institute, whilst her diamond poem departed from her usual style to explore the fading memories of an old woman being visited by her family.
3) Jilly Duckworth – Jilly is an advocate of creative writing and arts projects for young people everywhere. Her first piece about her diamond geezer explored the dark world of drug dealing through the eyes of innocence. Her second poem was performed by her alter-ego, Jilly the nun, who explained the Holy Trinity to us through the medium of pasta.
4) Maggie Doyle – Maggie makes up 1/4 of the Decadent Divas. Her diamond poem was a beautiful and humbling homage to her nan, her family’s greatest jewel. Whilst her second poem was a raucously amusing monologue from the point of view of the Queen at this special time.
5) Damon Lord – Coming from a background in IT, Damon’s poems had a punchy and lyrical style. His first, ‘Diamond Days and Diamond Nights’ took us along a story of good times and bad times, whilst his second took a whimsical look at the trials of getting through the automated voice mails of big corporations.
6) Catherine Crosswell – as a musical soul and a member of the singing group, Four Tart Harmony, Catherine’s beautiful singing voice always finds its way into her poetry. Her poems were punctuated with stacato and had the general feel they had been developed on a musical score. The sounds of her carefully chosen words flowed over us, giving us a multi-sensory poetry experience.
7) Sarah James – Sarah’s work has been widely published in journals and anthologies across the UK. Involved in too many organisations to count, Sarah’s mission is to reach out to aspiring poets everywhere. Details of her work can be found on her website at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk Her diamond poem took us on a slow and soulful journey of the story of an uncut diamond as it is shaped and formed, whilst her second poem brought us into the serial world of Cloud Olympics!
8) Jenna Plewes – Jenna has been widely published in small press. Both of her poems had a cutting an striking style, grabbing us to take on the dark journeys of how diamonds came to be and through family feuds.
9) Geoff Richmond – Geoff’s diamond poem was a proud ode to diamonds in every form they take,whilst his second poem was a more philosophical tale of differing prospective, written in the style of an old fable.
10) Suz Winspear – A regular on the Worcestershire Poetry scene has earnt her the title of the Midlands’ Sexiest Gothic Poet! Her diamond poem was a touching look at inner beauty – those that don’t shine at first, but must be nurtured and cared for. Her second poem was a wonderfully macarbre look at the power of nature put against us fragile humans, reminiscent of a number of her other poems on her poetry circuits!
11) Brenda Reid-Brown – Brenda is a writer and performer who has taken her poetry perfomances internationally and also does a lot of work to help other would-be writers to find their words. Her poems were superb in engaging our imagination, a true advocate for the power of words.
12) Tim Cranmore – Tim had a fantastic stage presence reminiscent of Brian Blessed. His booming voice required no microphone! His diamond poem mixed scientific elements with creative poetry – an ode to the very carbon atoms that make up these precious gems. His second was a more boisterous telling of the barbarous tribes that make up the West Midlands.
The evening also featured performances by Giovanni “Spoz” Esposito, our master of ceremonies and Laura Dedicote, Worcestershier’s first Young Poet Laureate. Theo himself got the ball rolling at the start of the show by performing his poem, ‘Worcestershire Sauce’, the very poem that that won him the position of Poet Laureate last year, followed by the much loved “I’m In Love With The Girl From H&M (Redditch)”
Finally, the judges came back with the verdict. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the annoucement of Worcestershire’s second Poet Laureate.
The runner up in Third Place was Brenda Reid Brown.
The runner up in Second Place was Suz Winspear
But, this year, I’m pleased to announce that our Poet Laureate is Maggie Doyle!
Maggie’s appointment proved to be a popular decision and the room was filled with applause. As she accepted her award from the judges she turned to the audience and said:
“First time in years I’ve had three men fighting over me!”
It’s been a great achievement to reach this stage, but Maggie’s journey is far from over. As Spiderman’s Uncle would say “With great poetry, comes great responsibility.” Over the next year, Maggie is going to be in demand at various public events throughout the county, writing poems to fit the occasion and promoting the Festival as it continues to grow. So here’s another fantastic year with another fantastic poet laureate!