New Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire

15-year-old Erin Gascoigne-Jones has been selected as the new Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire.

The Year 11 pupil from Sir Thomas Boughey Academy in Newcastle-under-Lyme was appointed to the role at a special poetry event organised by Staffordshire County Council’s Libraries service and WORD Stafford. The event was held in Stafford library on Thursday 7 October 2021.

Erin was joined by members of the libraries service, the Staffordshire Poet Laureate Mel Wardle-Woodend and members of the public for the event, held as part of the celebrations for National Poetry Day.

Erin performed one of her poems in front of a live audience, with poets from Italy and Germany joining the event virtually via Zoom. During her one year post, Erin will be mentored by Mel to develop her poetry writing skills and will be creating poems to mark special occasions celebrated by the libraries service.

Speaking about her appointment, Erin said:

“Hearing my name when it was announced really shocked me because the other shortlisted poets were so impressive!

“It’s such an honour to have this role and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ll have throughout my year. As Young Poet Laureate, I am excited to inspire a greater appreciation for poetry throughout a range of ages. I also love the beauty and vulnerability of poetry and hope to bring this to light with workshops and performances.

“I look forward to offering unapologetic authenticity with my art form to all who will listen while in this role and beyond.”

Cllr Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries at Staffordshire County Council, said:

“We’re very proud of our Young Poet Laureate scheme and I’m delighted to welcome Erin to the role.

“This is all about promoting a love of poetry across our great county and showcasing the creative writing talent of teenagers across the area.

“I’m sure Erin will do a fabulous job and we look forward to her poems, workshops and activities.”

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