Young people & poetry: a hobby worth pursuing

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Some places have ‘em, some don’t.  Indeed, they come in all shapes and sizes, but Carol Ann Duffy isn’t the only one with Laureate in her title, (although she is the only one appointed by the Queen).  Do you know where or even who your nearest Poet Laureate is? 

In January of this year 16-year old Annabel Peet (pictured) was chosen as the 2018 Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate.   Annabel’s poems are personal, contemporary and extremely well-crafted, and I was absolutely delighted to interview her recently after meeting her at a poetry event and listening to some of her brilliant work.

How old were you when you started writing poetry?

I started writing poetry when I was about 12, but it was never really serious until last year when I started thinking that people liked my poems and writing could be a hobby worth pursuing.

Why did you start writing poetry?

A new English teacher at my school started a Creative Writing Club which some of my friends wanted to go to, so I went along with them. It just sort of spiralled from there!

What sort of poetry do you write?

I write a lot about the people in my life and my experiences growing up as a young girl in the 21st Century. Particularly in the current political climate, I find it interesting to write about how I feel when I’m out alone and how that can affect me, as well as other girls my age who have similar experiences. I also don’t like following a specific form – I’m a firm believer in the poem creating its own shape, and I find it hard to write to fit a given structure unless I’m writing with another poet’s style, like one I did recently inspired by one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

How did the selection process work for becoming Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate?

Applicants were asked to submit 3 poems, one of which had to be inspired by Warwickshire. 4 applicants were then shortlisted and invited to a selection day at Warwick library.

In the morning we took part in a work shop run by Roy McFarlane, a former poet laureate of Birmingham, and he guided us as to how to deliver our poems when we performed them. We then each had an interview with a panel from the library service and the outgoing Young Poet Laureate, as well as Emma Purshouse, the mentor for the year, during which we were asked about our vision for what we would like to be able to do if we were selected as Young Poet Laureate. After lunch we each performed our poems to a small audience before the panel made a decision as to which of the short-listed candidates would be selected. I enjoyed the whole day, but it was absolutely amazing to have been the one selected!

What does holding the Young Poet Laureate title mean to you?

The title means so much to me. It feels really cool to be involved in so many events in Warwickshire as a result of doing something I love, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I was absolutely overjoyed when I heard my name being announced as the winner!

What is your view on pursuing poetry as a career for yourself?

I am definitely considering poetry as a career. I would love to end up like Daljit Nagra or Gillian Clarke – I particularly want to be part of getting young people into poetry where they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.

What words would you use to describe poetry in general?  Is it cool?

I think poetry is really cool and amazing. It allows people to express whatever they’re feeling in whatever way they want – it’s so different from how we are taught it in schools, and I think it’s really important that people are aware that it isn’t just a topic within English class.

◄ American Life in Poetry: The Wall

‘The Videomatic Tutor’ by Keith Jeffries is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week ►

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