Serena Arthur has been officially crowned the tenth Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham, 2014-15.
16-year-old Serena was shortlisted in 2013 and now plays the incredible role in promoting poetry to other young people, most likely meeting the Lord Mayor, maybe performing on stage at the Frankfurt Christmas Market, working with schools and youth groups…Hey, you may even see her appear on your radio and TV screen.
As for what’s definite, Serena will be writing new poems and blogging about her experiences via the Library of Birmingham site – so be sure to check her out!
Does this sound familiar…“I had no idea that it would be me who would get the role.” – Has the reality of it all managed to sink in yet?
I think that it took a while for the idea to settle in and to seem real. Now that I have started to receive commissions, I feel like I’m really starting to understand the role and what I will be doing for the next year.
Last year you missed out on the role, what made you reapply?
It took me a while to decide whether to reapply, however near the deadline I realised that since I love to write poems and my confidence has improved, I had nothing to lose. Even if I didn’t win, I would still be getting another rare chance to perform my poetry to an audience.
Previously, you said you hope each of your new experiences (including most recently starting Sixth Form) will inspire new and better poetry. So far, what’s the closest you’ve been to having a EUREKA moment?
I don’t think I have had one yet, hopefully one will hit me in the future. The closest could perhaps be the poem that I recently wrote and edited for Remembrance Sunday, (which normally takes a while for me, being somewhat of a perfectionist), but I wrote it in under an hour.
What would you like your audiences to gain from your poetry?
It would be nice if my work inspired people to write their own poetry and encouraged them to change the way they live, but it does not need to do this to serve its purpose. To me, for the audience to gain anything from my poetry, whether it is a new thought or simply an emotion, means that it has made a difference.
“for the audience to gain anything from my poetry, whether it is a new thought or simply an emotion, means that it has made a difference.”
As part of your prize you got to choose £100’s worth of books! Wow. Dare I ask, which ones did you pick?
Of course. It took me a few hours to pick, but I got there eventually. I was tempted by some of my favourites, such as Graceling (by Kristen Cashore), Daughter of Smoke and Bone (by Laini Taylor) and City of Bones (by Cassandra Clare), I decide to pick all new books. They included: A rhyming dictionary, a book of poetry, Half Bad by Sally Green, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Partials by Dan Wells and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
Recently you received news of your first commission from the Library of Birmingham. Do we have a date of when this will be taking place?
Yep I do. It will be a library opening event on the 4th of December at a school for the deaf in Birmingham. It will be a completely new, but exciting experience and I will have an interpreter to translate my words so that everyone can receive and digest them.
You nicknamed yourself the ‘notorious chatterbox’. What are your top three favourite things to talk about and why?
Firstly, I’d have to say books. I am always searching for the next novel or suggesting my favourites to others, in hope that they will enjoy them as much as I did. Secondly, lessons. I love my subjects – English (obviously haha), Psychology, Religious Studies and Art – I often try to share the interesting things that I have learnt with anyone and everyone I can find. And thirdly, the past. My friends and I are always reminiscing about the good times that we have had over the years, most of them leaving us in tears of laughter!
What advice can you give to a Skool Girl?
Always try your best, never give up and believe in yourself -your own ideas and opinions are just as important as anybody else’s.