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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Come along to Exeter Story Club, 1st Wednesday of every month at The Cowick Barton in and enjoy an evening’s storytelling wonderment. I’ll be hosting for the next 3 months, whilst Widsith & Deor go on their adventures.
Word Cafe – Friday Sept 27th: I will be appearing at Julie Mullen’s Word Cafe in Dartington.
Exeter Poetry Festival – Oct 2nd-7th. This year’s festival will include performances from your Bard at Alex Cluness’ memorial on Thursday 4th (National Poetry Day), opening for Matt Harvey on Friday 5th and performing at and judging the Slam on Sunday 7th. Watch this space for more details. I will also be appearing on BBC Radio Devon around the festival time.
Exeter’s First Haiku Slam – Friday Nov 16th: Robert Casey pioneers the Haiku Slam at Exeter Phoenix. I will be a guest performer and also feature on the judging panel.
After several visits to the Bardic seat at Rougemont Gardens and many revelations I realised that the my next act as Bard will be to bring healing magic to the city, by joining in with Michelle Elliott’s (Selkie Shell’s) Cauldron of Changes movement. I met with Shell and experiences the power of her weekly rituals first hand and was inspired to carry this on in Exeter.
To do this, I’ll be leading weekly get-togethers at Rougemont, sending out healing magic through Exeter and beyond. The meetings are every Saturday at 7pm (and when it comes around, on each full moon).
Want to know what’s on in poetry, spoken word, storytelling and singer-songwriterness in Exeter?!? Join https://www.facebook.com/groups/bardofexeter/ to post your events and find out what’s hip!!! Let’s make this massive! Everyone JOIN NOW!