Back in October, after a day of workshops, virtual performances and interviews, we were able to name our new Young Poet Laureate – Daniel. In today’s blog, Daniel introduces himself, explains what he’ll up to during his year and shares his poetry reading recommendations.

We’ll also highlight a few titles you’ll find on our library shelves and in our BorrowBox collection if you’re inspired to read more poetry.

Hi! I’m Daniel, and I’ve been chosen as the 2021 Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate.

This is a really exciting role, and I’ve already met some amazing people because of it, including Johnny Fluffypunk and, of course, all the other talented finalists for this role. I really couldn’t believe it was me that got chosen for the position! So far, I have performed a set at Coleshill Library, where I met Coventry Poet Laureate Emilie Lauren Jones. This was an amazing experience, and I heard a lot of inspiring material from all the performers involved in the event.

I am a Year 12 student studying English Literature, Music, Spanish and Classics. Along with reading books and writing poetry, the thing I love most of all is music: I play the violin, viola and piano and I often think my musical background has some influence on my writing style.

I’m excited to learn how to perform and to improve as a writer over the next year, which is why I am very lucky to have Jasmine Gardosi as my mentor. Jas was a finalist for the Birmingham Poet Laureate position and is a fantastic poet – check out her work if you aren’t familiar with it, including her recent Pandemic poem ‘Rollercoaster‘, performed while on a rollercoaster!

There is a great selection of poetry books in all of the Warwickshire libraries, some of which are also available on the BorrowBox app. There are collections chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell, such as ‘Poems to Save the World With’. Riddell also works very closely with the Foyle Young Poets competition, in which I was a finalist in 2020 and 2021.

The Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate scheme also makes good use of the Scriptstuff venue at Temperance, Leamington Spa, and I can’t wait to do a performance there sometime next year! During Lockdown, the organisation published an anthology of poems, including one from last year’s Young Poet Laureate, the talented Ruby Murphy.

Christmas is coming up, so I urge you all to have a close listen to some of your favourite carols and songs of the season – remember that song lyrics are poetry too!

You can find out more about our Young Poet Laureate scheme here and stay tuned to our social media to find out what else Daniel gets up to during his year.

In the meantime, here are a few recent additions to our shelves and BorrowBox collection for your reading/listening poetry pleasure.

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All The Names Given by Raymond Antrobus

Shortlisted for this year’s Costa Poetry Award, this is the latest collection from award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus. Building on his award-winning debut collection, The Perseverance, All the Names Given is a collection of intimate, deeply personal poems flickering with gods and ghosts, and the painful electricity that runs up and down the wires of lineage and inheritance.

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A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi

Also shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award this year, ‘A Blood Condition’ tells a story of inheritance – the people, places, cultures and memories that form us. Kayo Chingonyi explores how distance and time, nations and a century’s history, can collapse within a body; our past continuous in our present.

From London, Leeds, and The North East to the banks of the Zambezi river, these poems consider change and permanence, grief and joy, the painful ongoing process of letting go, with remarkable music and clarity.

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The Kids by Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are ‘The Kids’, her students, the teenagers she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London.

Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race – and their fundamental intersection with education – are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. The sonnet is re-energised, becoming a classroom, a memory box and even a mind itself as ‘The Kids’ learn and negotiate their own unknown futures. These boisterous and musical poems explore and explode the universal experience of what it is to be taught, and to teach, ultimately reaching out and speaking to the child in all of us.

The poems in the first section of the book draw on Hannah Lowe’s experiences as a teacher in the 2000s, but the scenarios are largely fictitious, as are the names of the students. This is the third of the four titles shortlisted for this year’s Costa Poetry Award (the fourth, Eat or We Both Starve by Victoria Kennefick will be in libraries soon).

The Forward Book of Poetry 2022

‘The Forward Book of Poetry’ is the indispensable annual guide to contemporary poetry. In bringing together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland, as chosen by the jury of the annual Forward Prizes, this anthology offers an overview of the literary horizon to seasoned poetry lovers and new readers alike.

100 Poets: A Little Anthology by John Carey

A poem seems a fragile thing. Change a word and it is broken. But poems outlive empires and survive the devastation of conquests.

Celebrated author John Carey here presents an anthology of verse based on a simple principle: select the one-hundred greatest poets from across the centuries, and then choose their finest poems. Ranging from Homer and Sappho to Donne and Milton, Plath and Angelou, this is an accessible introduction to the very best that poetry can offer. Familiar favorites are nestled alongside marvellous new discoveries – all woven together with Carey’s expert commentary. This is a personal guide to the poetry that shines brightest through the ages.

Bright Poems for Dark Days: An Anthology For Hope compiled by Julie Sutherland and illustrated by Carolyn Gavin

We all have days when we find ourselves in need of some positivity. In difficult times, the words of others can lift us up. Bright, joyful art to inspire hopefulness is combined with carefully curated poems, chosen to lift the spirits through the healing power of words.

The book is divided into eight sections on the themes of hope, resilience & courage, joy, nature & escape, love, tranquillity, gratitude, and comfort.

Wonder: The Natural History Museum Book of Poetry compiled by Ana Sampson

A collection of poetry with poems inspired by the Natural History Museum. It covers everything from the depths of space to the very centre of the earth – there are poems about the solar system, planet earth, oceans and rivers, birds, dinosaurs, fossils, wildlife, flowers, fungi, insects, explorers and palaeontologists.

Each section includes an introduction and footnotes about particularly interesting species.

Tomorrow Is Beautiful chosen by Sarah Crossan

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. This poetry anthology provides the antidote, offering calm, hope and peace to all.

Focusing on positivity, this collection contains a selection of classic poems from Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti, as well as contemporary poems chosen by Sarah Crossan.