POETRY is going strong in the county with a lot of first-time entrants entering a competition.

The Anthology of Art and Poetry, launched by Worcestershire LitFest, Artist Studios at Bevere and Bevere Gallery last year, aimed to encourage creativity in the community.

It included an open call to artists and poets in the county to respond to the theme ‘Enough to see, but not enough to see by...’.

The resulting anthologies are on sale to support two charities in Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven and the DEC Humanitarian Appeal.

The top-three poetry prize winners were Rachel Porter with Reflect in first place, 92-year-old Angela Lanyon in second with Age Related Macular Degeneration and Brian Comber in third with Observations Following His Confinement.

Martin Driscoll, Worcestershire Literary Festival and Fringe CIC director, co-ordinated and co-judged the word entries alongside Emily Rose Galvin, the former Staffordshire Poet Laureate.

The art top three, as previously reported, were Sally Cartwright, Charli Farquharson and Sylvie Millen.

Martin said: “One of the main things about the word section was the fact we had a lot of ‘first-time’ entrants, people who hadn’t written poems before and/or appeared in public reading them aloud.

“We also had a remarkable writer aged 92 who took second place and has now become a regular at our SpeakEasy open mic poetry/spoken word events live at St Swithun’s Church every second Thursday of the month.

“This was the remarkable Angela Lanyon who wrote movingly about her optical/macular degeneration and ultimate blindness and performed the piece so well.

“We had five of our current and former Worcestershire Poets Laureate, our unique and iconic post, responding to the art or the artists responding to the written pieces, then judges supplied similar pieces to the theme and then open calls to the Worcestershire populace.

“The response was remarkable and we had a final list of 17 finalists in the two medias published.

“The top three in both categories received vouchers and book tokens with special prizes for the two top threes.

“The project was first discussed in late December 2022 and we had many meetings at Bevere Gallery, including myself, Susan (Birth, the art co-ordinator), fellow artists Jane Arthur and Jennifer Ng and gallery owner Kim Taylor as we created the theme and all posters, call-out, entry forms and general admin in creating the competition.”

Later in 2023 an anthology of the poetry and selected artworks from the exhibition was published by Worcestershire-based Black Pear Press.

Last month the artists and poets whose work features in the anthology were invited to an evening event at The Dragon Inn, Worcester, to celebrate completion of the project.

Attendees collected their free anthology copies and the poets gave readings while project sponsors, Councillor Mel Allcott and Arts Society Worcester chair Maggie Keeble, were presented with special heritage copies of the anthology.

To buy a copy and help support charities, they are for sale at £10 at the Artist Studios at Bevere and Worcester’s Script Haven, High Street.

Martin said of LitFest: “LitFest is a not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company) completely run by unpaid volunteers for over 14 years now.

“We hold regular monthly events and a week of festival in mid-June. All events are free and we are funded by divisional funding, raffle prize monies, WAC (Worcester Arts Council) funding and things like the Tesco Stronger Starts blue token charity programme.”

Worcestershire LitFest has opened its three annual competitions - The Young Writers, Flash Fiction - 300 word short stories and The Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2024.