Grant could bring a literary future

poet john john siddique

poet john john siddique

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HUDDERSFIELD has Simon Armitage, Hull has Philip Larkin and Bridlington could in future boast its own poetry great thanks to a £9,500 grant from the Arts Council.

The money has been awarded to the Bridlington Poetry Festival which runs at Sewerby Hall from June 10 to 12 this year and counts high-profile writers such as Carol Ann Duffy and Costa Book of the Year Award winner Christopher Reid among the well-known names on the bill.

The £9,500 awarded to the festival is now being put to long-term use in encouraging established poets to take up residency in Bridlington schools over the next year.

Festival organiser John Wedgwood Clarke explains: “It is about getting young people enthusiastic about poetry.

“Even if they don’t become poets as adults, just to be able to encourage them to have a better grasp and understanding of the English language and how it can be used will certainly help them in later life.

“The Bridlington Poetry Festival is only in its second year, but it is part of a nine-year project in the East Riding which has seen the Beverley Literature Festival establish itself, so as a result there is a lot of goodwill out there from writers who would like to come to the area. “I think it is really important that these quality events can happen everywhere.

“It is very hard for somebody from Bridlington to get themselves across to Ilkley or Leeds to see such quality poets and when you have a location as beautiful as Sewerby Hall it seems crazy not to make it happen here.”

The residency scheme is already underway, with poet John Siddique taking a residency with Martongate School in the run-up to this year’s festival.

And pupils at Bempton and Flamborough primary schools have already enjoyed writing about the bird colony at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, in a collaboration between the festival and the Cultural Olympiad project Wingbeats.

All the schools will be involved in performances at the festival.

Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for cultural services, said that the grant was great news for Bridlington.

“I am delighted that the Arts Council is supporting the festival’s innovative work with school children,” she said.

“Bridlington Poetry Festival is a relatively new festival but one that is already making a big impact and attracting some well known names. It is a valuable addition to the impressive range of East Riding festivals which promote culture, support the local economy and are well supported by both East Riding residents and visitors to the area.”

Mr Wedgwood Clarke added: “In this time of transition for arts organisations, we see this as a positive commitment from one of our major funders to the future of literary activity in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”

Any Bridlington school headteachers who would like their school to be considered for inclusion in the poet residency scheme can email Mr Wedgwood Clarke at john.clarke@eastriding.gov.uk.

l Read more about next week’s Poetry Festival events in Free Time on page 34.