Writing poetry has always been a form of escapism for me. I have always loved putting my thoughts onto a page, so that other people can understand my opinions and emotions in an enjoyable format. My poetry was previously shared solely among close friends and family, but I wanted the ability to share it further than that, in the hope it may inspire others to portray themselves through poetry too. This is what inspired me to enter Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate competition.

The first time I entered Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate was during 2019. I was lucky enough to be one of the finalists that year, because I got to perform in the live final at The Hive. As a result, I felt motivated to re-enter this year. It felt different to send in a recording of the poems, but the tension I felt waiting for the result was the same. I was so excited and grateful to have won, especially as so many incredible young poets entered! I am so thankful of Severn Arts and Worcestershire County Council for the competition and the opportunities it has brought me.

During my time as Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate 2020, I have had so many wonderful opportunities. My first commission was from Severn Arts themselves, and they wanted me to write a poem on ‘hope and joy’ to be performed during one of their meetings. This was a brilliant experience, because it introduced me to writing for a deadline and gave me confidence in performance skills. It was also around this time A Collection of Poetry by Worcestershire’s Young Poets 2020 was published, and it was sent to local libraries. It was amazing to see my work in print, but even more exciting to know that my poetry would be in my local library for people to read and borrow.

National Poetry Day also brought plenty of opportunity for writing! I really loved participating in Worcestershire Libraries’ ‘Think Like a Poet,’ where I recorded myself reading Discovering Joy to be posted on their social media.

Furthermore, as National Poetry Day had the theme of ‘Vision,’ I was commissioned by Poetry on Loan to write a poem and record it for their website. I found writing ‘The Progressive Youth’ a lot of fun and they seemed pleased with the result. It was published alongside many brilliant poets too!

A very memorable commission was ‘In Memoriam,’ which was brought to Worcester by Severn Arts as part of the Arches Worcester Festivals programme. It was created by Luke Jerram as a temporary memorial for those affected by COVID-19 and as tribute to our NHS and keyworkers. They asked me to write a poem about Covid-19 and the memorial to perform amongst the flags. It was such an incredible experience to perform amongst the flags.

Another memorable experience was getting to be a judge for Malvern’s poetry competition. All entries were outstanding, which made it really hard to choose the winners. Getting to read poetry from so many people was an amazing opportunity and is something I hope I get to do again.

One of my biggest commissions came from Worcestershire County Council Public Health. They asked me to write a poem about Covid-19 too, because they wanted a perspective from a young person. Obviously, I was very excited to do this. They wanted to have a video with it, so Fix8Films created a film that captured the poem in a powerful way. When the final piece, 'Resilience' was posted online the response was incredible. As a result, I did a podcast for Worcestershire County Council and had interviews with BBC Hereford and Worcester, YouthComm radio and BBC Midlands Today! It was an amazing opportunity that I would not have had without Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate.

Being Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate has boosted my confidence in so many ways, and I look forward to whatever awaits me next.

Ellie Dart - Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate