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Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate - found!

The new Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire is...

Faith Taylor, from Bromsgrove, who is 15. More details to follow!

Faith Taylor, a 15-year old poet from Bromsgrove, has proven that writing really is a beautiful talent after being awarded the coveted title of Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate for 2021.

Over 100 talented young writers from across the county entered Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate competition in April. The competition, jointly run by Worcestershire County Council Library Services and Severn Arts, is open annually to young people aged 8 – 18 and aims to encourage and inspire young people to write and perform poetry, make their voices heard, and explore issues and ideas that matter to them. In the past, winners have received a year of professional mentoring, been interviewed by BBC radio and commissioned to write more work, and have taken part in a range of other creative opportunities.

On winning the competition, Faith said, “It’s been an incredible experience and I am so pleased to have won. All of the finalists were amazing, and I am looking forward to the opportunities over the next year. Thank you Severn Arts, Worcestershire County Council and all those involved!” 

To take part in the competition each applicant was required to submit two poems: one based on this year’s theme ‘adventure’ and a second about anything at all. On the day of the competition final the 12 finalists were given a morning coaching session with tips on how to perform online before taking centre stage and performing their poems to the judges Ellie Dart, Justin Coe and Kevin Brooke. 

Professional poet Justin Coe said: “Faith Taylor's work showed both passion and skill with form, celebrating adventures in writing and commenting on the current Coronavirus crisis with a brilliant ‘reverse poem’; a poem that can be read two ways to communicate two different moods or attitudes”.

Elaine Knight, Arts Director for Severn Arts, said: “Faith has been inspired by last year’s winner Ellie Dart so it was a pleasure to see how one Young Poet Laureate has impacted on other young people in the county, inspiring them to take part in the event.” 

Abbie-Lou Cox was the winner for the 16 - 18 age group and Alana Booth for the 8 - 11 age group. The poems submitted to the competition by Faith, Abbie-Lou, Alana and other entrants can all be read in a published anthology available on the Severn Arts website: www.severnarts.org.uk


Could you be the next Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire?

Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate competition is run jointly by Worcestershire Libraries and Severn Arts and provides a fantastic opportunity for young people across the county to develop and showcase their creative talent.

It is open to anyone aged 8-18 years who lives or studies in Worcestershire. Entrants need to submit two poems, one which must be based on this year’s theme of ‘adventure’ and another about anything they choose.

Submissions are judged in three age categories: 8 – 11, 12 – 15 and 16 – 18, with one winner chosen from each. Of these three finalists, one young person will be awarded the title of Young Poet Laureate 2021.

The winner of the Young Poet Laureate title will have their winning poems published online and in print and will take part in commissioning opportunities, mentoring, creative residencies and various platforms to perform and talk about their work. The other two finalists will receive a certificate, £25 voucher and have one of their poems published online and in print.

Ellie Dart, Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate 2020 encourages all young people with a passion for poetry to take part, saying: “Becoming Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate has been the most amazing experience. I have seen my poems published on the page, had the opportunity to write spoken word pieces for powerful projects and gained confidence from all the interviews I have done as a result. Winning this competition has brought me so much and I highly encourage every young poet in the county to enter.”

One of Ellie’s highlights was being commissioned to write and perform ‘Resilience’ for a powerful spoken word film, produced by Worcestershire County Council to mark the launch of The Rona Hub.
To see Ellie perform in Resilience - watch online here

To support potential participants, Worcestershire Libraries have teamed up with Poetry on Loan to provide free online poetry workshops in February half term. The workshops will be led by local professional poets Justin Coe, Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger and you can book places here: or via the Worcestershire Libraries Eventbrite page .

Young Poet Laureate - Poetry Workshop with Justin Coe (Ages 8-11 yrs)


Young Poet Laureate - Poetry Workshop with Emma Purshouse (Ages 12-15 yrs)


Young Poet Laureate - Poetry Workshop with Steve Pottinger (Ages 16-18 yrs)


The deadline for applications for Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate is Sunday 28 March 2021. The online final will take place on Sunday 25 April 2021.



Word up -  the Young Poet Laureate for 2018 has been found!

The youngest ever Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire has been announced, following the final at The Hive on Sunday (14 January).

Rachel Evans, 13, a student from Woodrush High in Wythall, saw off strong competition from the other 10 finalists, to take the 2018 title with her poems 'NATO' and 'Prisoner: DF8421'.

The runners up were Sophie Green aged 17 from Redditch, Dani Ncube aged 15 from Bromsgrove and Heather Rodgers aged 16 from Pershore.

The judges included outgoing Young Poet Laureate, Oakley Flanagan, who was alongside current Birmingham Poet Laureate, 'The Poet with Punch' Matt Windle and Gail O'Malley from Worcestershire County Council, Children Families and Communities Directorate.

Rachel Evans, winner of the Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate for 2018, said: "The final was unbelievable. I met so many different people whose poems were about such different things that I didn't want to leave by the end of it. I heard my name and I was speechless. I am the youngest ever Poet Laureate and that smashed my doubts completely. I am so excited to be added to a list of such successful and passionate young poets and hope that I am, someday, as successful as they have been". 

The MC at the event was performance poet Spoz, aka Giovanni Esposito.

All finalists were presented a certificate by Hannah Needham, Assistant Director for Children, Families and Communities at Worcestershire County Council.   

Catherine Driscoll, Director of Children's, Families and Communities, who presented the winning trophy said: "It was a real honour to be part of the selection of the Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire 2018, and to see first-hand the incredible talent and passion for poetry that the county's young people have. Well done to all involved."

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Localism and Communities added: "The young people of Worcestershire, entrants and finalists should be really proud of their efforts in this year's competition. The event continues to go from strength to strength, and always brings a smile to the faces of all involved."


Word up - The search is on again!

Our exciting Word Up competition is appealing to teens to put to pen to paper and compete for the coveted title of being Worcestershire’s next Young Poet Laureate.

We are looking for young poets aged 13-19 with something to say and who love saying it with words. We're not necessarily looking for the next Shakespeare or Kate Tempest but if one is found, they won't be turned away!

What is a Poet Laureate?

Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate is a prestigious title that will last for one year. The winner of our Word Up competition will be asked to:

  • Act as a champion for poetry to encourage and inspire other young people. 
  • Write poems to celebrate special events or occasions in Worcestershire
  • Perform at events in libraries, schools, festivals, and other community events. 

Who can enter the Word Up competition?

Our competition is open to 13-19 years olds who live in Worcestershire or attend school, college, University or youth club in Worcestershire.

What do you need to do to enter?

Young people need to submit two poems, one of which needs to be on the subject of 'Freedom'. The other can be on any subject. The poems can be any length, and in any shape or form you like. Entry is free but only one entry per person. 

Find out more at www/worcestershire.gov.uk/wordup

What is the prize?

As well as being known as Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate (what a great thing for future CVs!), the winner will get a great trophy. They will also be paid to write and perform more poems throughout the year.

When is the closing date?

Midnight on 31 December 2017

When will the winner be announced?

It is planned to shortlist all the entries into a final 12 by Friday 5 January and hold a grand final, where the winner will be announced, at The Hive on Sunday 14 January 2018. All finalists will be asked to perform both of their poems at the final. Coaching will be provided for nervous or inexperienced performers. 

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Natalie McVey on 07876 144905 or email wordup@worcestershire.gov.uk


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


to the sea


words such as                        freak



and unprecedented

will become



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
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,
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