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Birmingham Young Poet Laureate - Jennifer's Diary 2006-7

Jennifer Brough was the second Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham.
Here she tells us about her experiences during a memorable year.


Performance at the German Market

Well! Today I performed, like the amateur thespian that I am, at Birmingham's Band Stand, in the blistering cold surrounding by the less than delectable scent of mulled wine. Many other talented vocalists/bands performed that gave the audience a warm feeling inside, under the fifteen or so layers of much needed scarves and gloves. I was rather nervous before I performed, but there's a quote somewhere which goes something along the lines of 'The day you stop getting nervous is the day you must give up' or something to that effect.

Helen performed there when she was Laureate and dubbed the audience a little unnerving as they just walked on by... Like that Dionne Warwick song. However, the crowd this year actually STOOD STILL! Which made it a bit reassuring as they actually laughed at various points in my performance. Go team! It was a lovely day, well I say day I mean 10 minutes as I read pretty quickly before my lips actually froze together, but hey! I also got a free lunch, thanks Pepita! So good *10 minutes* all around I think! And well done to everyone else who participated!

(Read adult Poet Laureate Spoz's poem about the German Christmas Market!)

BBC WM at the Mailbox

Well, I have always described myself as an insomniac, so it wasn't a surprise when Spoz and I got a call from Jimmy Franks down at BBC West Midlands to come and do a late night talk show! It was pretty groovy considering I was in a panic about my psychology exam at 9am the next day, we finished rambling about everything from travel sickness and the youth of today at about 12am, so I got about a good...6 hours sleep! I chatted for a little bit about how I came to be La Poet de Laureate of Birmingham and read Identity- Warning Do Not Exceed Maximum Dosage. This is the poem I read with the other short listed folks a while back before I was appointed; we all know I got the title because I wore a lab coat... Anywho, the Mailbox was nice! A little chilly because for some reason they forgot to put a roof on it, but classy all the same.

Holocaust Memorial Day - The Dignity of Difference

Now, I've been to Amsterdam and visited Anne Frank's house, and was incredibly moved, as I was equally so at this event. An audience, which was unsettlingly large, gathered in a marquee outside of The Hall Of Remembrance and listened to a variety of speeches from various representatives of some of the main religions today. The event began with lighting 3 candles, the public were free to light candles also, by 3 people from different backgrounds. We were presented with the sickening mass genocide that occurred during WWII but also more recent events such as those who have suffered in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. There was also a terrific performance of acting, I realised this after, by Mirsad Solakovic, a Bosnian actor. Paul Oppenheimer, an esteemed Holocaust survivor, gave a poignant speech, leaving the audience truly hoping that history would never repeat itself. I performed before Paul Oppenheimer, (thankfully!) a poem I wrote specifically for the event. It was a solemn day, but satisfying that people from all kinds of situations came together to commemorate something that shouldn't be forgotten but never repeated.

Children Fancy Dress Competition

Pretty much says it all really! The lovely Patsy Heap and I judged about 9 or 10 children's costumes, as simple as that sounds it was so difficult! Those children were so well dressed! They had to choose their favourite character from a book, kind of like World Book Day but on a Saturday as a follow up from an entertainer with a dragon puppet...! We eventually decided on the three winners: The Worst Witch (but not worst dressed by all means) A Pirate (Who wasn't Johnny Depp, but "me", and incredibly solemn, or in character as we later decided) and a Dalmatian (Her ears were good). The winners got a little bag of goodies and everyone who borrowed a book from the library got a prize, very diplomatic, no losers! Even I got a free pack of bubbles, which were of course forced upon me... I was offered to get my face painted (would have been an improvement- ha ha, "humour") but I thought that would be a bridge too far. After this lovely event at the Library Theatre I went shopping! And I don't know whether I can do this for such legal reasons, but! I bought "The Hours" a truly amazing film based on a book called Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, I recommend both to everyone, go buy!

(The fancy dress competition was part of the Performing Pages event held at Central Library)

European Indoor Athletics Closing Ceremony

Well, this event was fun, lots of running around and such. I was invited to do a poem entitled The Medal, based on what an athlete feels like. As an athlete myself, I felt more than qualified to write a poem, yes shopping is a sport. I joined many talented, seriously talented, university dancers to do the closing ceremony. Pretty big gig and they were all so good! However, I was too busy practising in the changing room toilet (nice) to hear that my name had been called and I was due on the track to perform! Well after running very fast, getting a stitch (told you I was an athlete), I made it to the track and performed! I am assured it looked fine, cheques are in the mail reassuring nice people, and it looked like it was part of the dance; all the dancers ran into position and circled me then when I had finished they began their routine. The President of Turin, Italy was welcomed to Birmingham; they are holding the European Indoor Athletics next year. All in all a good event, and I got a free sandwich.

Chance to Shine!

This event was all about teens from all kinds of backgrounds learning how to do stuff they really enjoy! Dreadlockalien and Spoz were there so we hung out like the cool poets we were! The Lord Mayor also came wearing that nice necklace; it was a bit of a tea party-seriously the cakes looked good but I restrained myself. Spoz did a couple of poems which were ace, or bostin' as he would say! Then I did a new poem I wrote called Revolution. I didn't stick around for long, prior engagements and so forth, but the kids had done all sorts from poetry slamming to photography and looked brill!


Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2006-2007
Poems by Jennifer Brough
More Poems by Jennifer Brough
About the post of Birmingham Young Poet Laureate
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About the adult Birmingham Poet Laureate