Following a county-wide competition launched on National Poetry Day 2017, the hunt for Hampshire’s Poet Laureate 2018 is over.
Robyn Bolam, from the New Forest, was chosen as Hampshire Poet 2018 from a strong field of writers who applied for the sought-after post from all over the county. The competition, which is led by Hampshire Cultural Trust, runs every other year and aims to foster local writing talent. Robyn will be commissioned to write poetry highlighting the trust’s wide and varied exhibition and project work during 2018. Her poems will be widely shared and she will act as an advocate for the power of reading and creative writing.
On hearing the news, Robyn said: ‘Being chosen as Hampshire Poet 2018 is the best New Year present ever. I’ve been passionate about reading and writing poetry since primary school, so being able to pass on my enthusiasm to people of all ages, across the county, is a wonderful privilege. Whatever your interest in poetry, I’m looking forward to meeting you – and if you aren’t interested yet, I'll do my best to change that!’
Robyn is the author of four collections published by specialist poetry publisher, Bloodaxe Books. She is also an experienced writing workshop tutor and project leader. In her recent Ferry Tales project, she worked with various writers, musicians and a photographer in mainland ports and on Isle of Wight ferries, involving ferry travellers and others in creating songs and poems about their lives.
Judge Stephen Boyce, poet and chair of the Winchester Poetry Festival, said: ‘Robyn Bolam is among Hampshire’s most accomplished poets. She is also an admired workshop leader with an infectious enthusiasm for her craft. These are qualities which will serve her extremely well in the role of Hampshire Poet and I’m delighted by her appointment.’
Isabel Rogers, Hampshire Poet 2016 and judge this time round, commented: ‘Robyn Bolam brings her many years of experience as a poet and tutor to the role of Hampshire Poet 2018. I’m especially looking forward to seeing young poets in the county flourish with her guidance.’
Legacy by Robyn Bolam
We don’t know where we’ll go when we set off on the journey;
we leave with the tide, trusting it will bring us home.
Remember that we can’t always see the birds in winter trees
but a trembling twig sometimes sings.
We keep faith that life will sail through death
though we find ourselves in strange waters.
Remember, we are sea and sky, flowers on the water,
and love in your hearts like hidden birds singing.
From Hyem (Bloodaxe Books, 2017)