Generations Collide at Bodmin Moor 2018

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One of the key themes for this year’s Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival is the coming together of younger and older generations.

There’s a popular misconception that poetry is largely an art form for a particular segment of society: those who have the expendable time to ponder the meanings of language, and those with the expendable income that allows time to write. The truth is, nobody should be excluded; poetry is not only for the rich, the overly educated, pensioners or the super-young.

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According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in 2016 only 3.1% of adults admitted to writing poems. This is a depressing statistic that shows the lack of public engagement with poetry as an art form, and indicates that more needs to be done to encourage people to try their hand at writing it.

As part of this effort, this year we’ve paired well-established poets with up-and-comers in reading events throughout the festival.

Pairings like Peter Finch and Liz Berry bring together years of publishing experience on Finch’s part with newly rising acclaim on Berry’s.

These performances offer a blending of poetic generations, as well as diversifying the line-up so that the festival isn’t simply filled with the same familiar faces.  We hope that these matches will help to further promote less well-known poets and do our part in making sure the poetry world is filled with a variety of voices.

The Festival isn’t solely focused on raising up adult voices, but also the voices of budding younger poets.

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According to the National Literacy Trust, around 13% of young people write poetry outside of the classroom. While a relatively low figure, it’s still 10% higher than their elder counterparts. This steep drop off is something that demands attention. It’s an issue that needs to be counteracted in order to ensure the longevity of poetry as a popular, accessible art form. We intend to try and curb this trend by welcoming and hopefully inspiring children into poetry.

To do this, we’re holding a poetry performance from local children from Hillfort Primary School. Led by their poet-in-residence Sarah Cave, the children will be showcasing their poetry and visual art linking to landscape, language and space travel.

Bringing poetry to a younger generation is vital to its survival. By encouraging these children to perform at the festival, it will hopefully give them a boost of artistic confidence, while also illustrating that young people can have a passion for poetry, if simply given the opportunity.

That is one of the main goals of the festival: to be able to give people the opportunity to enjoy poetry, and hopefully motivate them to write their own. Without the input of new, young voices, the poetry scene is at risk of becoming irrelevant when it should be seen as a significant creative outlet for everyone.

by Seren Livie