Young Poet Laureate - India's blog 2009-2010
India Miller was the Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2009-2010
She told us about her experiences through the year in her blog.
8 October 2010 - National Poetry Day
No formal events today but I am now officially a 'former' young poet laureate! I can't believe it's been an entire year, but I think it's safe to say that I've had a fantastic year with a huge variety of experiences. Congrats to Jordan, who I'm sure will be an excellent Young Poet Laureate judging by the quality of his poems and performance, and thanks to everyone at the library service for all their help.
4 October - Conservative Party Conference
I was quite surprised but very honoured to be invited to perform at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham – this was the first party conference to include arts items to compliment all the political speeches, and so I was thrilled to be able to open the afternoon session. I read Achievement, a poem I wrote for the Young People’s Achievement Awards back in January, and the delegates seemed to enjoy it. Standing in the centre of the gigantic Symphony Hall stage was certainly a nerve-racking experience, but I had a great time and was even on BBC Parliament!
29 September - Shortlisted Young Poet Laureate performances
It was brilliant to see the performances of the potential 6th Young Poet Laureates. In the middle of the event, I performed my own poem, A Beginner's Guide to Young Poet Laureateship (check it out if you fancy entering next year!). I had been planning just to do a speech, but I thought that the best way to communicate my message was through poetry. More importantly, though, I saw some great candidates for the next young poet laureate and I know it'll be difficult for the judges to make a decision.
15 May - Middle Earth Festival
This was a slightly more unusual booking request but I had a great day! Lord of the Rings isn’t really my cup of tea but there was loads going on at the festival. I did a reading with Chris Morgan, former Birmingham Poet Laureate, and read a mixture of poems I’ve written in the last year or so. The audience was quite fluid but everyone there seemed to be enjoying it – and it was a great chance for me to perform some poems I hadn’t done before.
July - Harborne Library talk
I went to talk to the teenage reading group at Harborne Library today – I read a few poems of my own and discussed recent reading with the group. It was really nice to meet other people of my age who were interested in reading and writing and to encourage them to try a bit of poetry.
19 July – Be Birmingham at the MAC
I had the opportunity today to perform the Be Birmingham summit. Be Birmingham are an organisation bringing together partners from various sectors to make a better Birmingham. I performed a specially-written poem entitled The Beat of Birmingham, in which I wrote about my vision for the city and what might be achieved in the future. I also met the Bishop of Birmingham, The Right Reverend David Urquhart, and Greg Barker MP from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The poem went down very well with the audience and it was a good chance to think about all the great things going on in Birmingham.
13 May - Celebrating Birmingham’s Literature
This event celebrated Birmingham’s literature past, present and future – I worked with local writer Philip Monks to deliver a poetry workshop to a group of Key Stage One children. I loved meeting all the children, reading them a story and helping them with their poems, and I stayed on in the afternoon to go to a writing workshop and learn about the plans for the new Library of Birmingham
30 and 31 May
I went to the Book Bash at Aston Hall this weekend to run a Chocolate and Jam workshop for 7-11 year olds with Adrian Johnson, the adult Poet Laureate. The weather was lovely and sunny and it was really busy - not surprising with all the exciting events which were happening. We did four sessions and read some of our own chocolate and jam poems before thinking about things we could take in our metaphorical picnic box, and then put together a giant group poem. I haven't done many workshops before but this was great!
26 January - Young People’s Achievement Awards
Had a really enjoyable evening today at this awards ceremony, which celebrated the achievements of young people who’ve been involved in the care system in various different areas. I read a poem called ‘Achievement ’ in which I thought about the ways in which teenagers contribute to our society, even though we’re often portrayed badly in the media.
17 February - Unity FM
I was quite nervous at the prospect of my first radio interview but it was loads of fun and not scary at all! I made a guest appearance on last year’s Birmingham Poet Laureate Chris Morgan's radio show in which I read a few of my own poems and talked about the role of Young Poet Laureate.
11 April - Much Wenlock Poetry Festival
I had a fantastic day today at the first ever Wenlock Poetry Festival. In the morning, I went to a writing workshop, and then ran a children’s poetry club in the afternoon. I chose some of my favourite children’s poems and read them to the group, and they too picked their own poems to share. Afterwards, I went to a see a poetry slam organised by Dreadlockalien and Spoz, both past Birmingham Laureates, which was fun, fast and furious with some outstanding performances. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to the festival next year!
29 April - Regional Safeguarding Awards
Today, I performed a poem of my own about safeguarding (protecting children and young people from maltreatment) in which I focused on the great things that are done by people all across the West Midlands to help young people. The awards were a brilliant opportunity to celebrate this and I think the poem went down really well.
10 December 2009
I was on my best behaviour today as I met Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, during her visit to the Centre for Child. I spent most of my time in the under 5s 'Shake, Rattle and Rhyme' session singing nursery rhymes, and then watched a storytelling of 'The Gruffalo's Child' with pupils from Nelson primary school, before reading a poem I wrote about the importance of libraries (called 'Library Card' ). Camilla then read a poem herself, called 'The Snowman', which marked the end of a very exciting day.
11 October 2009
Had my first event today as Young Poet Laureate - reading a poem at the half-marathon, with previous laureates Megan and Matt and the winners of the Half Marathon Poetry Competition. We all wrote poems about running and read them to the substantial crowd as the competitors crossed the finishing line - it was a really fun event and a great opportunity to practise my performing!
Hi! I’m India and I’m really excited to be taking up the post of Birmingham’s fifth Young Poet Laureate. This year I’m hoping to encourage lots of young people across the city to engage with poetry - so whether you enjoy reading, writing or performing (or all three!) then you can appreciate poetry and get your friends to do the same. Lots of people think that poetry is stuffy and boring but I know that there are many young people out there who write some amazingly profound stuff; poems can move you in ways you don’t expect, whether you end up crying tears of laughter or sadness. Poetry’s around us all the time – in adverts, songs and books – even though we might not realise it, and I’d like us to show people across Birmingham what poetry can do for them!