Birmingham Literature Festival launch and naming new Poet Laureate

‘There is not enough poetry in our lives,’ said John but could not make it to the launch of the Birmingham Literature Festival on National Poetry Day. I, on the other hand, was free and enjoyed every minute of the hour of poetry from Birmingham poets laureate, past, present and future.

Stephen Morrison-Burke, the 2012-2013 Birmingham Poet Laureate, shared a story about what happened in his busy professional and personal life and what avenues opened to him during his laureateship when instead of rallying against the authority he chose to foster change by working with the system. It was unusual to see him without his dreadlocks – haha. The poem he read had this open immediacy, tying together the birth of his baby daughter and activist motives.

Brian Gambles, director of the Library of Birmingham, announced the new 18th Poet Laureate. The successful candidate was Joanna Skelt. Congrats! She read a beautiful poem The Swifts of Eileen Road and her dramatic expressive hands moved like swifts to the cadence of her verse.

There is an exciting year of speaking engagements ahead for a talented 15 year old Lauren Williams, Birmingham’s 9th Young Poet Laureate, who currently studies acting at Ormiston Academy. She impressed me most – such accomplishment and composure at such an early age! She read a poem about water – full of deep metaphors¬†unfolding vivid images in one’s mind… Water that gives life and takes lives away…

The hour just fled so quickly…

After the launch Lauren had her first video interview with Totally4Women. And a radio interview with BBC Radio 4 (at about 23 min point) sharing her poem ‘Making a Difference’.

As usual, you can find these and other photos from the Birmingham Literature Festival launch event in my Flickr gallery.

Jonathan Davidson Director of Birmingham Literature Festival

Jonathan Davidson, joint-founder and director of the Birmingham Literature Festival, opens the festival

Brian Gambles Director of the Library of Birmingham

Brian Gambles, director of the Library of Birmingham, invites the 2012-13 poet laureate to share his experience

Birmingham Poet Laureate 2012-13 Stephen Morrison-Burke

Stephen Morrison-Burke hands over his poet laureatship with reflections on his year and a poem called Little Venus

Brian Gambles congratulates the new, 18th Birmingham Poet Laureate Joanna Skelt

Brian Gambles congratulates the new, 18th Birmingham Poet Laureate Joanna Skelt

Joanna Skelt reads her poem The Swifts of Eileen Road

Joanna reads her beautiful poem The Swifts of Eileen Road

Lauren William 9th Young Birmingham Poet Laureate

A 15-year old Lauren Williams is announced the 9th Young Poet Laureate

Stephen Morrison-Burke talks to the Birmingham Literature Festival attendees

After the launch Stephen talks to the festival attendees

Lauren Williams 9th Young Birmingham Poet Laureate

Lauren holds her Young Poet Laureate trophy

Joanna Skelt the 18th Birmingham Poet Laureate shares her joy with family

Joanna shares her joy with her family