Birmingham’s Official New Young Poet Laureate

On Thursday 21 October 2010, Year 11 Great Barr School student, Jordan Westcarr (16), was officially appointed Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate.

At a ceremony held at the Central Library, Jordan was presented with a trophy marking the start of his year in office. Former Young Poet Laureate, India Miller, who was handing over the role to Jordan, told us all a little of what she had been involved in during her year in office, the highlight of which had been reading a poem she had written especially for the occasion at the Conservative Party Conference earlier in the month.

Jordan was presented with his award by Jo Bell, poet and Director of National Poetry Day. He also received a cheque for £100 to spend on books generously donated by Peters Bookselling Services who are sponsoring the role of Young Poet Laureate this year.

Around 90 young people applied for the role. Each had to send in four poems, including one on the theme of ‘Home’, and a personal statement saying why they wanted to take on the role.

The best 11 applicants were selected by a panel of judges and these young people were then asked to perform two of their poems at a live event in Birmingham’s Library Theatre during the Artsfest Weekend.

Jordan’s personal statement, poems and performance all scored the highest marks so it was a unanimous decision by the judges that he should be appointed.

“My uncle gave me a letter about the competition and told me I should enter,” said Jordan. “I didn’t really know if I could write poetry, but I love English and want to be a writer when I’m older so I thought I would give it a try.

“Mrs Hunt and Miss Stanford, two of my Drama teachers, helped me to prepare the poems for performance. It was quite nerve-wracking performing to a full audience but the preparation really helped me.”

“The role involves talking to other young people about poetry and writing poems when there are special events happening in the city. There’s quite a lot of responsibility.”

“We’re so proud of Jordan,” said Mrs Abbott, Headteacher, who went along to see Jordan presented with his award. “Our English Department have done an outstanding job in raising levels of achievement in both Language and Literature. It’s wonderful to see how this is fostering such a terrific enthusiasm for English and encouraging our children to branch out and apply their learning and their talents outside of the classroom.”

We’ve given Jordan his first commission so he can get a bit of practice before he starts his formal duties; we’ve asked Jordan if he will write a poem to read at the School’s wreath-laying ceremony as part of our Armistice commemoration next month.

For more information about the role, the website can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/younglaureate

Here is one of the poems which Jordan has written and of which he is most proud:


LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO SMELL LIKE YOU:

Let’s drift into each other, as you place your lips upon mine,

I’m addicted to your presence, and you’re drawn to mine,

Let’s leave our distractions and our stresses, without even moving,

Let’s simply lock eyes for a lifetime,

Let’s laugh just so we can hear each others’ laughs and then

Lock eyes again during that loved awkward silence,

Let’s analyse each and every perfection on our anatomy, no matter how imperfect it may truly be,

Let’s be together, maybe not forever, but for long enough,

Long enough for me to smell like you, and for you to smell like me,

Let’s fall in love,

Let’s buy that favourite house you wanted,

Or the perfect wedding you dreamed of,

Let’s live softly sensually and slowly, without a moment rushed,

Break up, let’s not,

Let us have a fairy tale relationship,

Where you’re my happily ever after,

Let’s hold each other to a point where it would be heartbreaking to let go.

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