The Fenland Poet Laureate Programme is a community arts project that seeks to promote poetry in North and East Cambridgeshire, facilitate creative opportunities, and support writers across the region.
The Fenland Poet Laureate Awards were founded in 2011 by Karen Harvey, and initially received funding in the form of a highly coveted Clore Poetry and Literature Award. The Fenland Poet Laureate Programme is now supported by local arts organisations ADeC and Atelier East, and by our friends at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.
Successive Fenland Poet Laureates have been praised for raising the profile of poetry in the Fens, and the project aims to establish a shared sense of positive identity in the community through workshops, competitions and other events.
The people of Fenland are often unkindly stereotyped, but there are so many talented writers out there in the flatlands. I used my time as Fenland Poet Laureate to give local people as many opportunities as possible to engage with poetry, and to show off their literary talents.
During my tenure as Fenland Poet Laureate in 2013, I worked with local museums, poets, and artists on the following projects:
A regular poetry open mic night, which runs every third Wednesday of the month alternating between venues in Wisbech and Ely. Co-hosted and co-organised by former Fenland Poet Laureate Elaine Ewart, the Fen Speak open mic nights are incredibly popular and provide a great platform for writers to develop their performance skills. Check out our facebook group for more details.
The Glass Cases and Curios booklet is a publication containing the work of twenty-two talented writers and artists from across the East of England. All the work in the collection was inspired by museums and exhibitions, and I co-produced the booklet with creative consultant Karen Harvey. The limited edition publication was launched in December 2013, and sold out completely within seven days! It was an amazing achievement for all those involved.
Poetry in Museums:
During 2013 I wrote three commissioned poems for local museums:
- Six Miles, which is on display in the Wisbech and Fenland Museum as part of their Fen Skating exhibition
- Fen Cottage, a poem about Fen Life in the nineteenth century, which is on display at the Chatteris Museum
- The Spike, a poem commissioned as part of the Whittlesey Workhouse Exhibition at the Whittlesey Museum.
The title of Fenland Poet Laureate gave me the chance to perform for so many different groups of people. I gave talks at local community groups in and around Wisbech, performed as part of the Pimms and Poetry event at the Welney Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, and led poetry workshops at Wisbech Museum, Wisbech Library, and the Thomas Clarkson Academy. I also fulfilled a lifetime ambition when I was invited to perform with the legendary John Hegley at the Arts Alive in Libraries event in Chatteris.
I'm always interested in new inquiries for developing poetry education programmes in Cambridgeshire. If you have an idea for a poetry project in the Fens, please do contact me. I'd love to hear from you!