I can honestly say that this has been such a fantastic experience! I have been Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Young Poet Laureate for a year now and now it is time for me to hand over to my successor, whom I have met and I really like so that I am pleased about! I feel I have achieved quite a lot during a year – although it’s gone extremely fast – too fast. I’ve written a poem to advertise the young teen fiction award, which was possible my favourite poem that I have written for the post. I have also written one advertising a competition as part of the Lichfield festival, one for world book day which I slightly changed for world book night, one for part of Stoke’s Chelsea flower show entry, and also a poem to go with the summer reading challenge. For the last one I had an interview with the reading agency and an article online, which was lovely as the person who sorted it all out did an amazing job! I’ve also set up a YouTube channel, which is pretty impressive for me as I usually break anything technological rather than get it to work – so I was very surprised when I successfully posted not one, but two videos online – with more to come in the future! I’ve started this blog, and I’m trying to write on it more frequently and about a wider variety of things. I also took part in poetry by heart, which, although the style of competition is not really my thing (but I did it anyway) I did enjoy the experience because the other contestants were so lovely and I had a fantastic evening with them. I am so grateful to have had this incredible opportunity and can’t thank my mentor enough, who is last year’s poet laureate for the county, because he has been great, helping me go through poems and ideas and improving my writing. I have learnt a huge amount this year, not only have I learned how to be more organised (!), I’ve loved working with a variety of people and meeting people who share my love of poetry – that was an amazing feeling, having someone to share that passion with! I cannot thank staffordshire county council enough for giving me this opportunity and the people who have supported me, especially my parents (doing all the driving!) because without them I would not have had the year I have had – it has honestly been the best experience of my life!
So on Monday 9th December I did a presentation about my skill that I’d chosen for my Duke of Edinburgh – which was poetry. On the same evening I received my DofE bronze award. Anyway for my presentation I had to talk about what I’d done and also present a poem I’d written. It was about out expedition which we did in September. It was a great evening and I really enjoyed it despite being so nervous because it was in front of a large crowd.
A quote from the poem:
“Into the unknown,
off we went.
Our bags were packed:
spare socks, the tent,
the trangia, the gas,
the food as well.
I watched as I packed,
as my bag began to swell.”
It was a brilliant walk and evening!
Copyright © 2013 Natalie Cotterill.
Everyone seems to make such a fuss over this event, I can’t say I’ve really bothered. The one thing I have done is used it as an excuse for going out for a meal with friends and, typical me, to write a poem.
Halloween has been an event celebrated for hundreds of years, though it wasn’t about the sweets then, it was about the spirits. The people who celebrated Samhain, as it was then, believe this night every year to be the night where the “veil” between life and death is the thinnest, meaning the spirits of the dead are closer to us. They believed that the spirits of the dead may return home. Being a Gaelic festival, traditionally Celtic, Samhain is also the end of the harvest season; and greets the winter and the darker months ahead. Many still celebrate this now, and I have decided to base my poem for Halloween on this belief.
Samhain spirits come out tonight,
once a year they are freed
the dead come closer to the life
becoming more than memories.
Leaving behind the seasons of produce,
of warmth and comfort and light.
the collected fruits shall be put to use
and the day soon becomes night.
Visiting home, the spirits feast
on the fruits of the labour from previous seasons.
Ghostly figures tease and tease
their living company, for no reason.
For one night only the Samhain spirits
come out of hiding into the world.
They mingle easily with the living
the living spirits, new, with the spirits old.
Copyright © 2013 Natalie Cotterill.
I don’t know why, but I like this one. My English teacher seemed to like it too. I never liked it much at first, but it grew on me. Here it is – sunlit raindrops:
Their arguments were bitter
and about as silent as a thunderstorm.
They were as persistent as rain;
always at each other’s throats
like Icarus to the sun.
Neither saw the sun’s glow
in the other’s eyes.
Their vision and thoughts were clouded
by the fog of hate.
It’s a pity that the future
is as unpredictable as the weather.
Maybe the rain would have ceased
and the sun lit up the remaining raindrops
a lot sooner.
But, back then, they both would have laughed
at the prospect of each being the sun
in the other’s cloudy world.
Little did they know that not long after
the sun would shine so bright
in their lives.
For about a year
the air began to warm.
The frost thawed.
They began to see one another
in a new light.
Life has a habit of surprising us,
as it did the two.
It was as dazzling as sunlit raindrops
sitting on a window pane
after a storm.
Lightning flashed, but for an altogether different reason.
And although there are some dark days,
when rain and tears fall;
the sun still peers through
and a rainbow is formed.
It shines so bright against the sky,
as bright as the sunlit raindrops.
Copyright © 2013 Natalie Cotterill.
(I just liked the picture as well!)
I wander lonely, far and near,
my cheeks are stained from the fall of tears.
I cry for help; my words, a plea,
I beg for someone to set me free.
But no one answers.
Life has become a mystery
to relief there must be a key,
though locked in darkness, it is hidden.
Of fear and pain my life is ridden.
But no help comes.
I want to scream, to shout, to cry,
but silence is what fills my life.
Trapped in a world that I can only hate,
for happiness, I can but wait.
But I’d wait forever.
What can I do? I ask the world
but she turns her back, her actions cold.
I seek life and joy, love and light,
as I enter another dark night.
But no light shines.
Love and hate are different things,
and of the latter my life sings;
sings melodies of hurt and pain,
the haunting lyrics much the same.
But I must listen.
I wish upon a shooting star,
under the moonlight from afar.
Its light fills my fragile soul
yet still it fails to make me whole.
But I am empty.
Each day I search for peace and light,
yet every search is like a fight.
Like this I’ll search for eternity,
unless someone should set me free.
But no one does.
One day I may find life at last
but all my childhood will have passed.
I must find my place in current time
if I want to feel alive.
But it is difficult.
One day I know, I shall be free
and life will be all it can be;
shaped by the past, it will be tough
but I shall fight to make it work.
I’ll forget the doubts, the fear, the ‘but’s,
and open doors that once were shut,
be strong, and fight through anything
so that, of joy, my life can sing.
I can do it.
Copyright © 2013 Natalie Cotterill