Nottingham’s poetry scene is rebellious by nature – the voices of tenacious poets bounce off the walls of every venue in Hockley, reverberating with revolutionary verse and echoing issues of contemporary life. In the aim to elevate one talented young poet’s career, we began the search for Nottingham’s first ever Young Poet Laureate. We shortlisted four outstanding poets, and Our Voices Are Verses is the anthology born from this snapshot of the city’s vibrant poetry community. Georgina Wilding, Cleo Asabre Holt, Chris McLoughlin and Ty Healy feature poems on a range of topics such as gender equality, mental health and poverty – but all share a devotion to using verse for self-expression and to explore the issues facing young people of Nottingham today.
The anthology opens with Georgina Wilding, who was chosen as the Young Poet Laureate (and is now a judge of the MyVoice writing competition, too). Her poem ‘Nottingham Women’ advocates for gender equality in asserting the strength of women in this city – ending on a powerful sentiment:
Cleo Asabre-Holt’s poetry in Our Voices Are Verses includes one emotive piece titled ‘Sorry for the Inconvenience’. This uses the motif of a train tannoy announcing a delay due to a person on the tracks, forcing an uncomfortable look at the treatment mental health. Her poem ‘Limbo’, alternatively, advocates that we all should jive on our commute to work.
Chris McLoughlin is a social justice advocate – his ambition is for his poetry to create a platform for audiences to feel less alone. His poems focus on mental health and grief. ‘Gringlerot’, featured in this anthology, is the powerful exploration of insecurities and male beauty expectations.
Ty Healy is both poet and rapper, and his work considers mental health, while also exploring the modern world and community. ‘Quiet’ forcefully asks what life means from a diverse number of perspectives, and the following excerpt calls to social justice advocates:
‘It’s what a cause is to the rebels,
It’s what evolution is to the human,
It’s what a message is behind the movement,
It’s what fear was to 2012,
It’s what peace could be for the world’
The poets of the anthology highlight the diversity and breadth of voices starring in the Nottingham Poetry scene. Furthermore, these poems reflect contemporary Nottingham and shine light on the issues that matter – and this anthology has the potential to inspire great social change.