Funded by the Isle of Man Arts Council and supported by Manx Litfest and Isle of Man Poetry Society, the Manx Bard is a new post to which the Island’s most worthy poet will be appointed each year.
The Manx Bard will officially launch on the opening night of Manx Litfest, Wednesday 24 September, at Jabberwocky in Duke Street, Douglas. The launch will be at 7pm for invited guests, followed at 8pm by the Manx Litfest Poetry Slam.
Anyone aged 18+ who lives in the Island will be able to enter the competition to become Manx Bard. Each Bard will serve for a year, performing at island events throughout the year, as well as attending selected festivals across the British Isles, helping to highlight Manx culture.
The concept is the brainchild of Bridget Carter, who heads up the Manx Bard committee, supported by Hazel Teare and Janet Lees.
‘Poetry is currently enjoying a resurgence and there is a real buzz around performance poetry in particular,’ said Bridget. ‘Last year’s Poetry Slam, won by Georgia Zapparoli, was a packed event with an electric atmosphere. Since then we’ve been holding open mic nights to give local poets the chance to perform their work. There is some amazing talent out there and we look forward to seeing even more of it as the search for the Manx Bard gets underway.’
‘The Manx Bard is a brilliant and exciting idea and we’re honoured to have it linked with the festival,’ said Manx Litfest Festival Director John Quirk. ‘Poetry has been a crucial part of our plans from the outset, and we’re thrilled that the Bard’s year in office will start and end at each Litfest.’
To enter the competition, poets will need to submit a poem both on paper and in performance, for assessment by a panel of judges. They will also be asked for a proposal on how they see themselves spending their year as Manx Bard, in line with the key aim of helping to promote and celebrate poetry in the Isle of Man.
In the spirit of the Bardic tradition, the Bard will be inaugurated in a bespoke Bardic chair, wearing ceremonial Bardic robes. Local wood artist Graham Hall has been commissioned to create the chair and Linda Davies is designing the robes. Both the chair and the robes will be unveiled at the launch next month.
The Bardic tradition is a Celtic one, dating back to the times when the Bard was the spokesperson of a community. In recent years there has been a
resurgence of interest in the Bardic tradition, and today there are several Bardic Chairs across the British Isles.
UK performance poet Mark Grist, who will be compering the Poetry Slam at Manx Litfest, was Chief Bard of the Fens in 2009 and Edinburgh Fringe Slam
Champion in 2010. Mark’s show ‘Rogue Teacher’, at Noa Bakehouse on the night of Friday 26 September is also an unmissable event – especially for
budding Manx Bards.