We were blessed this month with not just one but two poet laureates. Serena Arthur, Birmingham’s current Young Poet Laureate and Roy McFarlene, Birmingham’s 2010 – 2011 Poet Laureate joined us to talk about the process of becoming Poet Laureate and what it has meant to them. Both were very informative in fluid and amusing ways.
Serena, who became Poet Laureate at her second attempt, shared her initial disappointment, but guided by the feedback she got from her first attempt, she was able to secure the position for this year. She told us that due to funding cuts within the library services in Birmingham it has not been possible to conduct the search for a Poet Laureate this year. She has therefore been asked to continue for another year on the basis that she has been such a wonderful ambassador to poetry in the city.
Roy, who was already a seasoned performer by the time he applied, was successful at his first attempt to become Poet Laureate. He shared with us the intensity of demands on his time during the laureateship, the engagements, the performances, the commissions, and the travel to Amsterdam where laureateships lasts for two years. He was also able to tell us what happens post laureateship, the outcomes of contacts made during his time in office.
We were then treated to performances from both of them. The performance sizzled and zinged as we were taken on a roller coaster of emotions on a range of issues. Serena’s poem ‘Mother’s Morning Song’ was very much in keeping with the fact that 1st August is Emancipation Day, speaking as it did of freedom. Roy read from his forthcoming collection to be published by Nine Arches Press next year.
We believe we were the most fortunate writers group in the world at that moment.
Listen here to some of the wonderful performances that we were treated to; click on an image.
Both Serena and Roy will be taking part in the Birmingham Literary Festival. Serena will be performing with US Poet Laureate Rita Dove on 9th October and Roy will be part of the
Ode Trip: Black Country Bus Tour on October 11th. I will certainly be booking my seats.