WPL, Charley Barnes – Blog post #4

After twelve exciting months, my tenure as Worcestershire Poet Laureate has come to an end – and the search continues for a replacement! Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe has had to be postponed, in the interest of public safety. The good news is this led to an extension in competition deadlines, including the competition to be Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2020-21.

The LitFest team are open to entries until June 30th and the full list of guidelines for entry can be found here. However, for those still on the fence about applying for the role, I thought I’d put together one final blog post with my top five reasons for why you should give the application a go, starting with…

5. The trophy is an excellent addition to any bookcase

On a serious note, it’s a huge achievement to have your work recognised as part of a competition – especially a competition that stretches across the entirety of a county. The trophy is an added bonus.

4. It’s a very cool title

Bagging the title of Worcestershire Poet Laureate not only means your work is recognised, but you are recognised. Having the title itself means you have grounds to reach out to new and different parts of the writing (and non-writing) community, with an official title lending to support to your work and project ideas.

3. Engaging with new areas of the community and county

Something I was pleasantly surprised by throughout my tenure was how many people invited me to things, including: prize-givings, school competitions, and open discussions about writing (sometimes with people who had previously never written, but who had many questions for people who spend their lives writing). I made new and interesting connections throughout the county which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do without the role.

2. Nothing helps you to get stuff done like a strict deadline

Knowing I only had one year as Worcestershire Poet Laureate gave me a boot up the proverbial when it came to making plans. I ran competitions, edited pamphlets (plural, yas) and even now the tenure is over I’m still making plans for the ‘Hard Times Happen’ anthology that’s come about as a result of one last competition. Couple that with putting my own collection together, and the tenure overall is a good way of making sure you have a productive enough year to take a month or two off at the end of it all.

  1. Someone gives you the keys to the county

Okay, this is a very non-literal point. I’d like to be clear about that.

However, at the risk of finishing on a soft note, there’s a huge honour in knowing you’ve represented the writing community for a whole county. How many people can say they’ve done that? It’s wonderful to know that the people you hold near and dear in your writing life, you’ve been able to work with, and maybe even help somehow, in your time as Worcestershire Poet Laureate – and that in itself is a good reason to apply.

Finally, for those reading this and still thinking, ‘But it’s so close to the deadline…’ I’ll leave you with this: I sent in my application the day of the deadline, and it worked out just fine for me.

Keep in touch,

Charley