Boakesey Closs has been unveiled as the Ninth Manx Bard.
Manx Bard committee chairman Bridge Carter said the judges were unanimous in their decision to select Boakesey for the role after they were ‘blown away’ by the delivery of her own work, Manannan’s Revenge (The Ballad of Camag).
Boakesey told Island Life: ‘I still can’t believe it’s true. Yes, it’s a cliché, but I keep thinking I’m about to wake up and discover I’ve been dreaming about the past few days.
‘Seriously, though, it’s a very great honour to have been selected to follow in the footsteps of some amazing poets.
‘There’s also the responsibility of being the poetic voice of the island and promoting the history, culture and folklore of Mann.’
Boakesey said the was initially talked into applying for the role by some friends.
‘I never for once really thought I’d win,’ she said. ‘I thought it was a good way for me to get to perform what I’d been writing, to see if other people enjoyed it.
But she said that she soon realised ‘what a wonderful opportunity it is to spread the word about the poetic craft’.
‘Many people, perhaps as a result of their school experience – and I’m an ex-teacher myself – think that poetry is an elite art – not for the ordinary person,’ she said.
‘Anyone can have a go at drawing and painting; music or dancing, but poetry is just for highbrow intellectuals, isn’t it? Well, it most definitely is not!’
Boakesey explained that she started writing after developing a medical condition in 2018 that meant she had to stop working.
‘Having worked all my life, I wasn’t prepared to simply stay at home and watch daytime TV, it’s not for me,’ she said.
‘Those workshops were the start of my writing career and I have since been undertaking training to be a W4WB facilitator in my own right,’ she said.
‘I’ve completed several courses already and am midway through an MA in creative writing and therapy. Poetry and writing are extremely important tools for healing, building resistance and general well-being.
‘Over the next months, I plan to set up various W4WB workshops around the island to help other people in our community.’
She added: ‘It helped me so much when I was at my lowest and I want to pass it forward by sharing the power of words.’
Boakesey is also a stroke survivor and at one stage was ‘virtually blind’ due to cataracts. She said she’s had the cataracts fixed but as she is a bit wobbly on her feet uses a rollator. She also gets ‘terrible brain fog at times’.
But she said: ‘I am determined to carry on and do as much as I can, while I can. Being “disabled” does not mean that you are unable to do anything. Employers: please take note.
‘I am lucky in that I have a great support network which includes the Manx Stroke Foundation and Sight Matters, without whom I’d not have been able to enter the contest, let alone assume the mantle of Manx Bard. My thanks go to them and everyone else who has supported me over the years.’
Bridge said Boakesey clinched the role from the four shortlisted entrants, who all gave ‘spectacular performances’. The role of Manx Bard is sponsored by the Isle of Man Arts Council.