Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate Mel Wardle Woodend is the latest to back this year’s Staffordshire Day celebrations on Saturday 1 May.

Mel promises a host of poetry activities including a poetry film, an online recital of a specially commissioned poem and a Zoom call with local poets.

Mel’s film ‘Echoes’, which she produced with fellow poet Jon Watkiss, will celebrate the county town of Stafford, focusing on its geography, landscapes and past industry.  ‘Sandstone and Clay’ is a specially commissioned poem for Staffordshire Day and explores some of the history, accent and dialect and the diverse landscape of the county. Both will be streamed on Staffordshire Day on the Mel Wardle Woodend Author and Poet Facebook page and the Stafford Word Facebook page at 9am.

Alongside Mel’s own work, she and fellow Poet Gary Carr will also be bringing together some of the county’s top poets for a poetry extravaganza on Zoom on Saturday 1 May between 2pm-4pm. People will be able to sign up for the event and hear from local poets sharing poetry films they have made and also reading poems on the theme of ‘Film’.

Talking about her plans for Staffordshire Day, Mel said: “As Staffordshire Poet Laureate, I’m once again really looking forward  to our celebrations. Poetry is a great way of expressing ourselves and communicating our thoughts and feelings and is the perfect channel to let people know about our great county. This year, I’ll be showing my first poetry film about Stafford and also in the morning, doing a live reading of my Staffordshire Day Poem ‘Sandstone and Clay’. I’m looking forward to that and to the Zoom event in the afternoon, with many poets from across Staffordshire. I hope people can join us and take part in the activities on Saturday 1 May.”

Janene Cox, Assistant Director for Culture, Rural and Safer Communities at Staffordshire County Council said: “We all know what a great county Staffordshire is and what truly amazing people we have here, and this is our chance to tell everyone.

“As in previous years, our libraries service and our Poet Laureate will be taking centre stage with a whole range of creative online activities. There will be loads happening throughout Staffordshire Day on the libraries Facebook page and website.  So whether it’s poetry, author talks, stories, online crafts or quizzes,  there will be something for all the family. Make sure the date of Saturday 1 May is in your diary.”

Also in the line-up for this year’s celebrations is the first ever Staffordshire Day Film Competition.  Judges are currently narrowing down the entries, with the best ones being shared in the week before Staffordshire Day at www.youtube.com/enjoystaffs On Staffordshire Day itself, there will be an event at 4pm, where the winning entries will be announced and shown in full. This event will be pre-recorded.

Other activities include an online virtual market place on the day to help support the county’s businesses.  In addition to planned events, organisers Enjoy Staffordshire and Staffordshire County Council are also keen for people, organisations and businesses to host their own events.

The date, decided by a public vote in 2015, is the anniversary of Josiah Wedgwood setting up his world-famous Staffordshire pottery company in 1759.

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