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
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
to the sea
words such as freak
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
food will be grown in chemical soil
then starvation rations will become the solution to overpopulation
ice will burn
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?
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
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?
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,
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.