Pewsey Vale poet named first Canal Laureate

This Is Wiltshire: Jo Bell on her narrowboat PICTURE: Andy Pratt Jo Bell on her narrowboat PICTURE: Andy Pratt

Poet Jo Bell, who lives on a narrow boat in the Pewsey Vale, has been named as the first ever Canal Laureate, a title awarded by the Canal and River Trust and the Poetry Society.

In her new role she will use her verse bring a new perspective to the nation's historic canals and rivers and encourage more people to see their local waterways in a new light.

The Canal and Rivers Trust together with Arts Council England hopes that expressing the attractions and delights of the waterways of the UK in poetry and other art projects will attract new visitors as well as pleasing the existing communities who live along the canals and rivers.

In her role as Canal Laureate, Ms Bell will actively engage new and existing audiences through community workshops, performances and blogs and she will be writing new verse inspired by the canals and rivers as well as collecting poems by other waterways poets.

A trained archaeologist she has worked all over the country on poetry projects and has been the Glastonbury festival poet in residence and the poet laureate for Cheshire.

Speaking from narrowboat Tinker moored at Honeystreet, she said: “Good poetry is about noticing. I want people who already know the canals to notice how lucky we are to have them.

“ For people who haven't really noticed them yet, I want to show them the still green space on their doorstep, full of wildlife and histories.”

Her work can be seen on her website: jobell.org.uk.

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