If you hear the word ‘poetry’, what do you think of?
If it’s yawning at school learning boring, ancient words by heart, or drug-taking madmen you want to avoid, let me try to change your mind.
Believe me, we’re not all like that.
I’ve been appointed Hampshire Poet 2016 by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, and I’m the fifth person to be given the role since we started in 2008.
My official duties include writing three commissioned poems, which will be a brilliant and terrifying challenge because I won’t be told what they’re about until it’s time to write them.
In between those, I’m going to get out across Hampshire to meet as many people as I can and talk poetry.
I’ll visit schools, libraries, museums and retirement homes explaining why I love poetry.
I’ll also be finding out what kind of poems people like and introducing them to some they may have never heard of before.
We could even write some new ones.
When was the last time you read or heard a poem? Was it at a wedding? Or perhaps a funeral?
We turn to poetry at important times in our lives, when we need something to carry a lot of emotion.
They can make us cry, laugh, or help us to understand something differently. Words are magic.
The first poems I ever read were funny ones, by people like Spike Milligan and AA Milne.
We all love rhymes as kids. We don’t have to forget how wonderful they are.
I know loads of people who will read stuff online who never open a novel.
I know avid novel readers who don’t go anywhere near poetry.
We seem to be stuck at the ‘scary/boring’ end of the reading scale. I have a year to show you we are neither.
If you think you need a poet in your life, whether you’re in a local school or writing/reading group, a coffee morning or walking group, please get in touch with Angela Hicken, Literature Development Officer at the Hampshire Cultural Trust, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to show you how poetry can change the way you see things.
What’s your favourite place around Portsmouth? Send in a picture to The News, with a few words about why you’ve picked it, and I’ll write two completely different poems about it in my next column.
Email email@example.com with your submissions.