Almost three months now since I was officially presented as Young Poet Laureate for the city and it hardly feels as if it has been three weeks. Where does time go?
On the first week of December I had the pleasure of being invited to Braidwood Trust School For The Deaf for my first ever commission. The fact that it was both my first booking and my first ever visit to a deaf school, as someone who had no experience of the deaf, left me slightly nervous. However I was also delighted to have been given such a wonderful and memorable opportunity.
On arrival I was greeted by some members of Braidwood's staff, who seemed just as excited to have me there as I was to be there, their enthusiasm and energy showing that they really did have a genuine love of their school. They were kind enough to give me a grand tour and I was immediately struck by the size, catering for around 60 students, Braidwood was hugely different from the 600 students of my own secondary school or the 2000+ students at my new college. The size, however, only added to the intimate and friendly atmosphere and so, despite having knowledge of only the basic sign language, there was no point where I felt excluded.
As we arrived at the library, I was touched to notice an official-looking plague on the wall outside, which stated: 'This library was opened by Serena Arthur, Young Poet Laureate 2014-15 on the 4th of December 2014', along with a quote from their commissioned poem 'Do not be the book that is never opened, Or the bird that never flies, The present never opened, Or the student that never tries'. It is nice to think that the day will be remembered long after I have passed on the title to the next young poet.
I said a few words and cut the ribbon, answered some questions from their year nine students and read my skilfully interpreted, commissioned poem, then To finish, I was treated to a collective poem from the Year Nine's about why they loved to read.
My second commission was on a Saturday the 20th of December, from the Kumon Centre in Handsworth Wood, where I was given the role of prize-giver in their award ceremony. I recited a poem and then gave awards to and took photographs with the children, the feeling of celebrity increased further more by the autographing of some favourite books at the end - hopefully a practice for the signing of my own book far into the future. It was great to do an event encouraging reading, since it is one of my favourite hobbies and to relate to a range of ages, from the very young 5-year-olds to the more familiar teenagers. The event reminded me of why I was so grateful to have gained the role, that it was not merely a job, but something that I enjoyed and appreciated.
I would also like to thank BBC WM programmes, The Sunny and Shay Show and The Chatback Show for inviting me for interviews over the last few months. I appreciate the chance you have given me to spread my poetry to those who haven't had the chance to hear it, which could have inspired them to look into poetry themselves. And also schoolgirlonline for contacting me to do the interview found here: skoolgirlonline.co.uk/interview-serena-arthur/