20th Nov, 2018

Hanbury teenager is named as Worcestershire's Young Poet Laureate

Lorna Morris 19th Jan, 2017

A HANBURY teenager named Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate for 2017 has spoken of the importance of poetry today.

Oakley Flanagan, from Hanbury,  was officially unveiled as the young poetry wordsmith for the county at a grand final event held at The Hive in Worcester.

As the sixth young person to be awarded the prestigious title, Oakley will not only be paid to write and perform, but will act as a champion for poetry to encourage and inspire other young people, write poems to celebrate special events and perform at community events.

The 19-year-old, who studies at The Swan Theatre School in Worcester, said: “I’m so grateful to be the Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate for 2017, there were so many great poets who competed and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I get to be the next person to continue the legacy.

“Poetry is more important now than ever and I’m thrilled to be given the gift of this year’s tenure to have my voice heard.

“Thank you to everyone at The Hive in Worcester and the WordUp team for championing young people. I can’t wait to get started.”

Oakley was selected as part of the annual county-wide search by Worcestershire County Council’s Libraries and Learning service to encourage young people to engage with poetry and find a talented young person who can both represent the county and inspire others through poetry.

Steve Wilson, County Arts Officer said: “Oakley is a wonderfully exciting and well deserved winner of Worcestershire’s Young Poet Laureate.

“His commitment to poetry is evident and he is both an accomplished and exciting performer and writer, that will inspire others to have a go at producing their own work.”

Below are Oakley’s winning poems ‘A Message to my Father’ and ‘Business as Usual’.

A Message to my Father

by Oakley Flanagan



whenever i try and speak to you

you never actually end up saying

anything to me

unless you’re drunk on rum

and talking about rock ‘n’ roll

then you talk for hours

but even then you’ll never talk to me

only at me


your daughter has perfected the art of your small talk

and she can steal whole fistfuls of your soil

cramming them deep into her pockets

she’s saving them for one of the bad days

where she’ll ration out a portion of your love

to quieten the graves in her ears

you dug for her when you decided to eat your tongue


when i’m away and call home

and mum will put you on the phone

but i don’t know whether or not

she’s hung up on me

and when i call back later

my call goes to answerphone


when i’m back home

and it’s bad

the silence screams loud

at the dinner table

and the words we do say to one another

are as hollow as our manhood

a message to my father

Business as Usual

by Oakley Flanagan

the winds will change

the tides will turn

the papers will predict the worse

at first we’ll blame God

and then terrorists

who’ve finally succeeded

in turning the sky against us

the names of hurricanes will chill parental bones

mother’s will whisper them into the ears of their young

like childhood monsters

the waters will withdraw

from Britain’s banks

will churn and circle

like a pack of ravenous wolves

fighting over the last bone

before they burst their banks

reduce cities to myth

and still

we won’t be convinced

we will live in the solitude

of our newfound sovereignty

our buildings reaching higher than God

soaring like Icarus in the glory of our new empire’s sun

we will look to the screen

so we don’t hear the planet’s cries

the prophets will rage on street corners

the poets into pages of digitalised poetry

kindle killed paper

because man killed the trees

suited men cowered in underground bunkers

will promise worthless coins and an overnight stay

to the prostitutes they f**k

research papers of disgraced postgrads

will be vindicated

pass into platitude and proverb

no one will enter a building without an escape plan

the oceans will boil like kettles

and curdle to milk

as landmass


to the sea

words such as freak



and unprecedented

will become


those foolish enough to swim in the oceans will blister and crack

burned by the sulphur

the few natives and tribesmen left alive will die of the water

those too poor to afford gas masks will die of the air

crops will drown

villagers perish

food will be grown in chemical soil

then starvation rations will become the solution to overpopulation

ice will burn

to gas

fires will break out spontaneously

and burn the forests starved by drought

the children will soak up the view with terrified eyes

the first words of the newborn

uncurling itself between the bloodied legs and effluent

of its mother will be

is this the future you left us?

and still

amidst all this chaos

we will not blame ourselves

or the part that we have played

collectively to total the sum

of this ravenous destruction

so it’ll be business as usual in Britain

we will frack and burn and bleed

unmoved by the destruction

of Nature prostrated on her knees

shouting curses to the pylons

that murdered all her trees

this our mountainous inhumanity

to feed our insatiable greed

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