2014-2015: Gary Longdon was appointed Staffordshire Poet Laureate in 2014 and was in residence at Uttoxeter Race Course.
Gary Longden is 58 years old and has lived and worked around Lichfield for twenty years. He is a member of the Lichfield Poets, and organiser of Poetry Alight, a quarterly performance poetry night in the City which has been running for over two years. His work has been widely published, and broadcast. He performs across the Midlands as well as being a reviewer of Arts events for newspapers and websites.
Gary said of his appointment as Staffordshire Poet Laureate:
“It is an honour and privilege to be asked to spearhead poetry in Staffordshire with this appointment. I am interested in writing about Staffordshire people and places, past and present, as well as landscape, and in involving others of all ages and abilities. Although I enjoy the serious side of poetry, my performance material tends to be light, satirical and sometimes comic. I like to try to engage with people who don’t like traditional poetry.”
Uttoxeter Racecourse Residency
Gary Longden was appointed as Poet in Residence by Uttoxeter Racecourse during 2014. It was a new role, and followed a trend of major sporting interests working alongside the poetry world, including football clubs and the Wimbledon tennis championship. Gary’s first job was to compose a poem for the Midlands Grand National.
Gary is a keen race-goer and is a prominent figure in the Midlands poetry circuit, organising events, as well as performing at them. Gary commented:
“I am honoured to be able to work alongside a Staffordshire sporting institution with over a hundred years history behind it. Horse racing has been well served by novelists and painters to date, but so far not by poetry. Hopefully I can start to change that.”
“The Midlands Grand National poem is just one of the initiatives I shall be working on. During the year I shall be writing a series of poems about everything connected with the racecourse, and race-day. I will also be inviting all interested to attend workshops to create a body of contemporary writing by local writers. I write accessible poems about everyday places and people, I want our racing poetry to reflect that”
This role, the first ever at Uttoxeter Racecourse, was created by CEO David MacDonald, who is the inspiration behind this ground-breaking appointment. David said:
“I am always looking for ways to broaden the appeal of racing ,and to use different ways to promote it. Gary’s appointment as Staffordshire Poet Laureate, combined with his obvious enthusiasm for racing and the position, made him the ideal choice as the first ever Uttoxeter Racecourse Poet in Residence. It will be an exciting time for all concerned ”
You can go to Gary’s website for more updates here