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Young Poet Laureate - Worcestershire

New Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire!

The young poet from Hanbury, near Droitwich who takes up the mantle of Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate 2017 can't wait to get started. On Sunday January 15, following a closely contested live final at The Hive in Worcester, Oakley Flanagan was announced as the winner.  Our sixth Young Poet Laureate said: “I’m so grateful to be the Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate for 2017, there were so many great poets who competed and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I get to be the next person to continue the legacy. "Poetry is more important now than ever and I’m thrilled to be given the gift of this year’s tenure to have my voice heard. "Thank you to everyone at The Hive in Worcester and the WordUp team for championing young people. I can’t wait to get started!"

Oakley, 18, was selected as part of the annual county-wide search by Worcestershire County Council's Libraries and Learning service to encourage young people to engage with poetry and find a talented young person who can both represent the county and inspire others through poetry.

Natalie McVey, Service Lead for Young People said: “Oakley is a wonderfully exciting and well deserved winner of Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate.  His commitment to poetry is evident and he is both an accomplished and enigmatic performer and writer."

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for Localism and Communities, added: “It was an honour to be present at this year's final and to hear the talent of the finalists.  Congratulations to Oakley on winning Word Up! and becoming Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate for 2017. This county has inspired many writers and produced a wealth of literary talent in the past so I’m eager to see what other works he produces as our new poet laureate."

Here's a poem by Oakley:

Business as usual

the winds        will change

the tides         will turn

the papers      will predict the worse

 

at first                         we’ll blame God

and then         terrorists

 

who’ve finally succeeded

in turning the sky against us

 

the names of hurricanes will chill parental bones

mother’s will whisper them into the ears of their young

like childhood monsters

 

the waters will withdraw

from Britain’s banks

will churn and circle

like a pack of ravenous wolves

fighting over the last bone

 

                                                            before they burst their banks

                                                            reduce cities to myth

and still

we won’t be convinced

 

we will live in the solitude

of our newfound  sovereignty 

our buildings reaching higher than God

soaring like Icarus in the glory of our new empire’s sun

 

we will look to the screen

so we don’t hear the planet’s cries

 

the prophets will rage on street corners

the poets into pages of digitalised poetry

  kindle killed paper

  because man killed the trees

 

suited men cowered  in underground bunkers

will promise worthless coins and an overnight stay

to the prostitutes they fuck

 

research papers of disgraced postgrads

will be vindicated

    pass into platitude and proverb

 

no one will enter a building without an escape plan

 

the oceans will boil like kettles

and curdle to milk 

as landmass

returns

to the sea

 

words such as                        freak

                                    extreme

unexpected

and unprecedented

will become

obsolete

 

those foolish enough to swim in the oceans will blister and crack

         burned by the sulphur

the few natives and tribesmen left alive will die of the water

those too poor to afford gas masks will die of the air

 

crops will drown

villagers perish 

food will be grown in chemical soil

then starvation rations will become the solution to overpopulation

ice will burn

to gas

fires will break out spontaneously

            and burn the forests starved by drought

 

the children will soak up the view with terrified eyes

the first words of the newborn

uncurling itself between the bloodied  legs and effluent

of its mother will be

is this the future you left us?

 

and still

amidst all this chaos 

we will not blame ourselves

or the part that we have played

collectively to total the sum

of this ravenous destruction

 

so it’ll be business as usual in Britain

we will frack and burn and bleed

unmoved by the destruction

of Nature prostrated on her knees

shouting curses to the pylons

that murdered all her trees

this our mountainous inhumanity

to feed our insatiable greed

 

Worcestershire's new Young Poet Laureate is announced

An 18 year-old from Earls Croome has been announced as Worcestershire's fifth Young Poet Laureate for 2016

Ellie Courtman is a pupil at Hanley Castle High School. Her winning poems were entitled 'The Little Match Girl' and 'The Importance of Shakespeare'.

She said: "It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I feel very honoured to be Young Poet Laureate, especially when I was up against such talented other young writers. I'll try to do as good of a job as Chloe did."

The runners up were Jodie Young aged 14 from Lower Moore, Near Pershore, and Eleanor Roberts, aged 16 from Pershore.

Twelve young people made it to the final round and performed two poems each in front of an audience of friends and family at the final at The Hive in Worcester on Sunday 17th January.

The judges included outgoing Young Poet Laureate, Chloe Clarke, who presented certificates to the finalists. Other judges were Matt Windle 'The Poet with Punch' and County Arts Officer Steve Wilson. MC at the event was performance poet Spoz, aka Giovanni Esposito.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Localism and Communities, who presented the winning trophy, said: "It is a tremendous pleasure to be involved with the Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire 2016.  I am continually amazed by the talents of our young people in Worcestershire the standard of entries was incredible. Well done all our winners."

Natalie McVey, from the Libraries and Learning Service, said: "I cannot explain how proud I am of our young poets. The exuberant audience were spellbound by all of the performances. Some made us laugh and some brought tears but all of them made us think, and enjoy the moment that we were amongst such talented young people."

The 'Word Up' competition is open to anyone aged between 13 and 19 living in, or going to school, college, university or a youth club in the county.

This year's competition required poets to submit two poems, one on the subject of 'Light' and another on a subject of their choice. 

Here's Ellie's second poem:

The Importance of Shakespeare

He’s in every star-crossed lover standing alone beneath a window,
His pen is mightier than his sword.
But of all his wit, wisdom, banter and flair,
Every English teacher knows that twinge of despair,
When a student raises their hand and says,
“Miss – why do I have to learn about Shakespeare anyway?
It’s not as if he relates to the world of today.”
But he does - you see Shakespeare was a literary Jedi Master,
Sprouting flowers of greats faster
Than you can say,
Thou puke–stocking, pox-marked, pigeon livered, tickle brain, swag bellied flap dragon!
A linguistic innovator,
Cross generational communicator.
One man who sums up the way we all feel after each and every age,
Because hundreds of years on and all the world is still a stage.
Othello’s misguided sense of a justice ruled by rage,
Echoes the terrorism stamped on every cover of today’s front page.
‘To be or not to be’ – the question that still blisters the brain,
It’s concepts like these that universally remain
Constant,
In the cracks of conscience.
Splintered in life, death, vengeance, love,
To rather bear the arrows of this world,
Than soar to where you know not of.
You may think his words are ancient, archaic,
Dried up and left for dead.
But the truth is you’ve quoted him if these words you’ve ever said:
Kill with kindness,
Love is blind,
Fie Fo and Fum.
Phrases that such stuff of dreams are made on!
The world is your oyster,
I wear my heart upon my sleeve,
The word ‘puking’ – which is harder to believe.
Knock knock, who’s there?
Shakespeare!
His discretion is the better part of valour,
And his verse – with baseball cap tilted and tracksuit hung loose swaggers,
To the ends of its phrase,
Pirouette and promenade across each and every gold-tinted page.
A ship drawn in divine ink that sails through centuries,
Gobbets that hang on our language like invaluable accessories.
Standing hand in hand with royal and ruffian,
Nestled deep in the heart of every peasant and nobleman.
An Elizabethan societal commentator,
Idiomatic generator.
Baiting the breaths of an audience,
With his poetical hooks of pentameter. 
And in no better words can I think to bow him out,
Than in his illustrious semantics,
A desolate language ours would be without.
Because hearts hath from the gems of thy treasured book,
These merited lines with deep impression took.
And in such remembrance this man doth lie,
In a tomb for which a King would die.

Ellie Courtman