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Mayor’s competition inspires young poets to celebrate the River Loddon

By Fiona Walters Oakley Community Association

Tuesday, 9 November 2021


Communications Officer, B&D Council


Young writers are being urged to follow in the footsteps of famous poets inspired to verse by the River Loddon in the Mayor’s Poetry Competition 2021.
Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Cllr Onnalee Cubitt has chosen a celebration of the River Loddon as the theme for her poetry competition open to children aged five to 16 years old.
The River Loddon, which flows through the borough, is one of just 224 chalk streams in the world, many of which are in the south of England. Chalk streams are vital, a unique part of our biodiversity of plants and animals and need protecting and preserving.
The Mayor Cllr Cubitt said: “It is little known that Basingstoke was once home to a poet laureate. In the late eighteenth-century, Thomas Warton was our man of words. He dedicated a poem To the River Loddon and was one of many writers and artists to have become enchanted by chalk streams, including Alexander Pope, John Constable, Kenneth Grahame, of Wind in the Willows fame, and Sir John Betjeman.
“Now we’re asking the modern young poets of Basingstoke and Deane to write in celebration of our chalk stream. The aim of this competition is to bring children closer to nature and encourage them to treasure our beautiful local environment, a very fitting theme when the international focus is on climate change and preserving biodiversity.”
There are three age categories: five to seven, eight to 11, and 12 to 16. An iPad is up for grabs for the winner in each category, with book tokens for the runners-up. The three winners and three runners-up will be invited to a presentation ceremony hosted by the Mayor early next year.
The judges are looking for original work that expresses hope, fear, anger, joy or any other response to the River Loddon. Poems should be no longer than 750 words and must be submitted to [email protected] by the closing date of Friday 17 December 2021.
The six judges will be the Mayor Cllr Onnalee Cubitt, award-winning poet Vic Pickup, publicist Atalanta de Jersey Lowney, English teacher Jean Elliot, English teacher Chris Fielding-Smith and bestselling author Lucy Jones.
The young poets can let their creativity flow but a couple of ideas are being put forward to help inspire them to write poems as part of their school work or at home:
• The Cinderella River: the Loddon is called this by The Wildlife Trust for being so hard working yet overlooked. Poets could use Cinderella, or a fairy tale theme, to bring the river and its wildlife to life or create a story about what is happening to the chalk stream.
• Oceanus, Father of River Gods: The British Museum is now home to a Roman ornament of Oceanus that was found in Basingstoke in 2020. Poets could draw on his myth to make Oceanus protector of the chalk stream.

Contact Information

Fiona Walters

  • 01256 845634
Registered charity number 1165256

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Oakley, Basingstoke, Hampshire