Back in January, at Rugby Library we held our sixth annual Selection Day for the Warwickshire Libraries Young Poet Laureate position. Six local young poets who live and go to school in Warwickshire took part in a day of activities and performances before one was named Young Poet Laureate 2020. After taking part in a workshop on performance skills with poet Fergus McGonigal, and being interviewed by a selection panel including professional poet, Jasmine Gardosi, we then asked our young poets to perform in front of a live audience made up of their family and friends.

After a lot of deliberation as all six finalists were very impressive, our judges picked Ruby:

Hi, I’m Ruby and this year, I have the amazing privilege of being the Young Poet Laureate for Warwickshire. Since taking the role in January after the Selection Day, I have been up to some really exciting things. I have performed at the ‘Poets for Peace’ event in Leamington, met Roy McFarlane and even performed with former British Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy!

I am currently in Year 12, and studying Art, Drama and English Literature, so I am keen to see how I can apply my different creative skills to the role. ​

My personal goal is really to grow as a performer so I am incredibly grateful for the mentorship I’ll be getting from Jasmine Gardosi, who is working with me to help elevate my poetry from a hobby to a more professional level and push me further.​

But I have a goal for you too! To reach as many people as possible, I plan to utilise social media and have created a designated YPL Twitter: @rubyfmurphy. This April for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), I will not only be taking part in the national challenge but setting my own tasks and challenges every so often. I would love to see you get involved! You might not think you’re a writer but I’m on a mission to prove that there’s a poet in all of us.

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Ruby posted her first challenge on Saturday – you can find it on her Twitter feed or we’ve also shared it. We hope you’ll join in and look forward to seeing your posts.

Normally, our Young Poet Laureate would be taking part in events throughout the county during their year long Laureateship. Previous YPLs have performed at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, at events throughout our libraries and at open mic nights, festivals and other special occasions.

This year however is proving to be a Laureateship with a difference. The mentoring that Ruby mentions is happening with the use of technology and unfortunately, there won’t be as many live performance opportunities over the coming weeks (though we hope there will be some later in the year as long as we all keep washing our hands and social distancing). Ruby is embracing this new experience with verve and we’re really looking forward to her poetry challenges and sharing her Laureateship with you.

Keep an eye out on the @warkslibraries Twitter feed for Ruby’s challenges and if you want to know more about NaPoWriMo, have a look at the Young Poet Network‘s website or at the Twitter feed for local poetry publishers, Nine Arches Press.

Happy reading (and poetry writing)