UK’s first pet poet laureate announced

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The Poetry Society, partnering with national pet charity Blue Cross, are pleased to announce Russell Jones as the first ever Pet Poet Laureate, a role that will see him pen a series of poems throughout the year of his tenure, all about pets and the wonderful influence and impact they have on people’s lives.

The Poetry Society reports that the position of Pet Poet Laureate was filled following a nationwide search to find a poet that demonstrated outstanding creativity in their writing and shared Blue Cross’s passion for pets and their welfare.

Russell’s winning entry poem, ‘A Tempest’, describes the struggles of an abandoned cat Ella and her homeless kittens. In keeping with the title, the poem gives each kitten its own stanza and takes the physical form of a wave-like quality. Julia McKechnie-Burke, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Director at Blue Cross, added, “We are very excited to present the nation’s first Pet Poet Laureate to champion the huge impact pets have on people’s lives.

We wanted to tap into the wonderful world of poetry, which is undergoing an exciting renaissance and reaching increasingly diverse audience, to demonstrate our mission in a unique way that has never been done before.

“Over the next 12 months we will work with Russell to create a series of poems covering themes relating to pets and their people, from how pets impact children’s development to the enormous role pets played in the First World War. We can’t wait to reveal what surprises we have in-store to celebrate the nation’s love for pets and help bring attention to the thousands of pets across the country that are still in need of our help.”

When asked about their involvement in the project and why they chose to appoint Russell, Ben Rogers, of The Poetry Society said, “The Poetry Society is delighted to partner with national pet charity Blue Cross to judge the Pet Poet Laureate. Pets have already left a clear paw-print in bardic history from the pens of poetry greats including T S Eliot who marvelled at the ‘terpsichorean powers’ of cats and Elizabeth Barrett Browning who noted the ‘loyal cheer’ of dogs. With pets so prominent in society and many households considering them part of the family, it is appropriate and exciting for a new poetic voice to step in and respond to how we see our furry friends today.

“In a field of strong contenders, we were charmed and moved by a wide variety of poems that regularly demonstrated a strong understanding and affinity for pets. Russell’s winning poem offered striking imagery, clever leaps of language and voice, and powerful insights about pets and our relationships with them. We very much look forward to seeing the work he creates during his year’s tenure in the post.”

After being appointed the position of Pet Poet Laureate, Russell Jones commented, “Having been a pet owner for as long as I can remember I am absolutely delighted to have chosen to take on the role of Pet Poet Laureate. I feel extremely grateful that the judges chose me as their winner and can’t wait to get started on writing more pet-themed poems to be released throughout the year.”

Russell, who before being appointed his new role had already proven his expertise by publishing as many as five collections of poems, will be sharing his work commissioned under the role of Pet Poet Laureate on Blue Cross’s website and social channels, where details of public appearances and new material will be published throughout the year.

A Tempest – for Ella (“Beautiful Fairy”)

Cast away, nursing futures, mottled shells spilled on bare shores.

Ella, hold them close, listen to those tiny oceans roar, sail fast with hope beyond hope.

Who knows what storms you navigate or divine.

Be not afraid, this isle is full of distant mews, incantations and leviathans. A blue cross cuts the squall.

You will wake to your babes lapping, think of new worlds.


(Story source: Poetry Society)

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