High hopes for young Portsmouth poet laureate

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A COLLEGE student is now on a mission to spread a love of poetry after being appointed the city’s first young poet laureate.

Joe McQuilken, who is a student at Havant College, says he is not daunted by the new role which will include school visits as well as representing the city at poetry festivals throughout the country.

The 17-year-old former pupil of King Richard School in Paulsgrove said: ‘I’m so chuffed to be chosen as young poet laureate.

‘I’ll be going into schools and colleges to hopefully inspire more people to write poetry.

‘Young people are a tough crowd to engage with sometimes, but if just one person starts writing then it’s worthwhile.’

He added: ‘I’d challenge anyone who claims Portsmouth isn’t an inspiring city to stand on top of the hill and take in the view.

‘Portsmouth’s an amazing city, I can’t believe there are so many famous literary figures from here.

‘Being surrounded by Dickens, Kipling and Conan Doyle, makes it an incredible place to come from.’

Joe will be mentored by Portsmouth’s new poet laureate Sam Cox, 38, who is a former deputy head at Charter Academy.

She said: ‘This is a really exciting position and I’m looking forward to working with not only other poets, but musicians and other performers.

‘There are plenty of open mic sessions in the city, Aspex Gallery usually hold one. I would encourage people to hear poetry performed live as it’s a great introduction.’

Sam, who cites Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night as one of her favourite poems, added: ‘My year as poet laureate will hopefully be full of remarkable moments, I can’t wait to get started.’