When the Mitcheldean Fete and Folk Festival was set up in 2014, the role assigned to the Library was to stage the Poetry Recital. This was to be a show-case for poets working in the Forest and the surrounding region, celebrating the history, distinctiveness, culture and language of the ‘Land Between Two Rivers’. From the start ‘Forest Bards’ – (poets writing in the local dialect) – have been a central feature and you’ll find many of them here on the ‘Poetry Page’.
That first recital in 2014 was a great success but with one glaring omission: there were no young poets. To address this we set up the ‘Mitcheldean Young Poets’ Competition’, which proved an instant hit and the standard was incredible, as you’ll be able to see for yourself for years 2016 onwards from the ‘Young Poets’ Competition’ drop-down menu. A selection of 2015 winners (recorded at BBC Radio Gloucestershire) can also be heard in the ‘Poetry Recital 2015’ video. As celebrated local poet, Dick Brice comments in his introduction ‘some of them are quite stunning’. The organisers of the ‘Junior Forest Bard’ competition were so impressed that, as Annie Cavill (one of the organisers) relates, selected poems were included in their competition with the result that Sophia Stallard of Lea Primary School was crowned ‘Junior Bard’ 2015. Sophia is also featured here.
A collection of young poems from 2015-19 has been published by Yorkley Press under the title of “Space Ride”, and the competition has now been extended to include young storytellers. We will gradually build up a unique library of the poetry and stories written by our young people and over the years this will become a priceless archive.
That’s a claim we might already make for the poetry pages, which bring together more poets reading dialect poems than anywhere else in the Forest. This too is an archive which will grow over time as every year we will hope to add the new Forest Bard plus as many other poems (whether in dialect or not) as are submitted and are approved by our independent panel of local poets and authors.
So that’s us: Poetryfod.org – not the only place for poetry in the Forest but the place where the poetry speaks for itself and, by contacting us and adding your suggestions, you can help make sure its voice is heard down the generations.