We welcome the appointment of a poet laureate for Portsmouth and agree that with this city’s literary connections it makes perfect sense.
As the birthplace of Charles Dickens we have much to be proud of and this appointment is a really great way to mark that fact.
At the age of just 21, Kelly Bianchi is certainly an interesting choice for the role and we are sure that her youth will help, not hinder her, as she sets out on this new and exciting road.
There are those who still think poetry has a fusty reputation, that it’s stuck in the past in some way and only relevant to dusty old masters from the past.
But poetry is really the richest celebration of our language that we have – just think of the ways Wordsworth, Betjeman, Keats, Shelley and Tennyson managed to bring an idea to life through their command of the written word as verse.
Tennyson had a long-standing connection with the Isle of Wight and was of course a poet laureate himself.
Perhaps he and others such as Cecil Day-Lewis helped set the image of what a poet laureate is and does in people’s minds and that means some are unable to see how poetry might be relevant to them and their lives.
But Portsmouth’s poet laureate will not be called on to pontificate about matters of state or the nation’s affairs.
Much of Kelly’s work will be bringing her poetry to the people of Portsmouth, making it accessible and interesting for everyone from the city’s youngest residents to its oldest.
It is no small task. She must first persuade people that she has something to say and that her words are worth listening to.
Yet her passion for poetry suggests that this will not be a problem.
She is clearly eager to make this role a success and has some great ideas about taking poetry into schools.
We know that will work well alongside the efforts already put in by our teaching staff to introduce their pupils to poetry.
We wish Kelly luck with her mission to spread the word.