Grand Bard of Exeter features on BBC Spotlight

My poem “Pandemic Reflections” was featured on BBC Spotlight to celebrate a year of my “artist in residence” creative work for Sarah Gosling’s Arts and Culture show on BBC Radio Devon as the Grand Bard of Exeter. “Kimwei McCarthy, who is the Grand Bard of Exeter, created a series of Pandemic Pieces for BBC Radio Devon’s Arts and Culture Show [presented by Sarah Gosling]. Well, 12 months into that process he’s compiled a spoken word reflection on a year unlike any other.” Thanks to Sarah for your ongoing support, and to John Danks for doing an amazing job of shooting and editing this item.  

-Kimwei (he/him), Grand Bard of Exeter

Join Kimwei’s Band of Bards!

For a chance to be part of a fabulous creative community AND get your writing broadcast on BBC Radio Devon, come along to my Band of Bards creative writing workshops, every other Tuesday evening from May 25th! The first workshop will be online and will be co-hosted by none other than previous Grand Bard of Exeter, Jackie Juno!

Go to the Workshops page to find out more and book now, as places are limited!

-Kimwei (he/him), Grand Bard of Exeter

Tim King to Remain Bard of Exeter until we can have a proper competition for the new Bard

I’m proud to announce that we are celebrating a whole year of enjoying Tim King as our Bard of Exeter, and that he’s been doing such a great job of being a pandemic Bard and keeping Taking The Mic/Forsaking The Mic going online during these interesting times, that we’re going to keep him on as Bard for now, until such time as we can have a Bard of Exeter Competition properly. Three cheers for Tim King!

-Kimwei (he/him), Grand Bard of Exeter

Grand Bard of Exeter on BBC Radio Devon

I have so enjoyed visiting Sarah Gosling’s BBC Introducing show on BBC Radio Devon in the past, as well as featuring with her on Radio 4’s Frontrow last Autumn, so I’m thrilled now to be providing a pandemic poem for each of her fortnightly arts shows during this lockdown. You can listen in every other Thursday (from May 14th) or watch out for my uploads to this playlist:

I’ll also be joining Gordon Sparks on the Breakfast Show at 6.20am every morning next week (beginning June 1st) performing Pandemic themed Pause For Thought pieces.

Warmes of wishes to you in these interesting times

-Kimwei (he/him), Grand Bard

Spoken Word Events go Online!

In these times of Covid-19 and Lockdown our spoken word events and communities are thriving with the help of ye olde internet. Yes, the Bardic scene has gone online, with Bard Tim King seamlessly springing up Taking The Mic open mic sessions on Zoom. Likewise Widsith and Deor’s Exeter Story Club is alive and kicking, as is Chris White’s Spork and Robert Garnham’s Big Poetry. Link yourself up and attend the latest through our What’s On page. Stay safe and keep creative.


BBC Home Truths Poem for Devon

Each year BBC Local Radio teams up with specially chosen poets to create sparkling new poems for broadcast on National Poetry Day. This year, as Grand Bard of Exeter, I was chosen to represent Devon, to write a poem that challenges stereotypes and celebrates the delights of the County


Because You Invited Me (full version)

by Kimwei McCarthy

Home Truths poem for Devon

Invite me over to your favourite cafe

somewhere on the river Dart

where it trickles between our past and our future,

or invite me to your house

where it rests like a barnacle on a hilltop

near a stone circle

where we shall take tea together.

In ancient times you moved the earth

turning woodland to moorland,

clearing pastures for grazing

just so you could live together,

allowing the wildness of gorse and heather

to care for itself

whilst caring for you.

Then, you stopped being so careful

and began building cities,

cutting through this county,

cutting through each other with big ideas

until you were burning and hanging women,

Now you are sorry

and honour those killed

and welcome magic back

and remember who you were before that all started

with every moment that you invite me in.

Bring out your finest china

and tell me the story of an outcast wife

who won back her family

by returning from exile

with the secret of clotted cream –

tell me to remind me that this place is my home,

as you take up the butter-knife,

spread a cloud on a scone,

place it in my hand.

I hold it up to the window,

so it seems to twin a cloud in the sky

and I think how similar two things can be and how different

and yet how right they can look next to each other.

How startling it is when we can belong together

because you invited me.

Kimwei to represent Devon on National Poetry Day 2019

I’m thrilled to have been selected as BBC Devon’s Home Truths Poet for National Poetry day this year – Read more on the National Poetry Day Website. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day (October 3rd 2019) I will be writing and performing a poem that represents Devon. There are 13 poets in total and the project aims to give a voice to the true nature of each region. – Kimwei

New Bard Melanie Crump! New Grand Bard Kimwei McCarthy!

The annual competition for citizens of Exeter to elect their next Bard took place on Sunday 28th April at Exeter Phoenix.

Wordsmiths of all kinds competed by delivering a performance of their own work and presenting their vision for the Bardship. Tim King, Peter Roe, Adam Skerrett, Richard Green, James Turner all presented enthralling offerings and the evening concluded with inspirational poet Melanie Crump being appointed as the new Bard.

In her Manifesto, Melanie pointed to the underrepresentation of women in spoken word and over the next year she aims to support female artists, as well as putting energy into the existing poetry scene and running educational workshops.

Exeter is one of only a small group of cities with the right to appoint a bard, in a tradition that dates back 200 years. The role is kept for one year and a day and the Bard is said to represent the land and the people of the territory. 

To conclude the evening, outgoing Bard Kimwei McCarthy was also awarded the role of Grand Bard by outgoing Grand Bard Jackie Juno. This role is 7 years and Jackie has notably organised the record breaking Grand Witches Tea Party at Rougemont each year under the role. The coming year will tell what Kimwei will do as Grand Bard. 

Bard of Exeter Competition 2019, April 28th!

Yes, that time of year is here! It’s time for me to pass the Bardship on to a fresh new Bard, who will take the role for a full year. This year’s competition is already gaining much interests, with Grand Bard Jackie Juno and I having had to make the decision to limit it to 10 contestants and accept applications only until April 14th at noon. The lucky 10 will be announced later that evening. This gives the prospective Bards 2 full weeks to prepare and to gather their audience – after all, it’s the people of Exeter who will vote on the night and decide who will be the new Bard!

Click through to the FACEBOOK EVENT and find out how to apply!