An annual competition to choose the ‘Manx Bard’ will celebrate its 10th year in 2024.

Ballabeg woman and performance poet Bridge Carter came up with the idea of establishing the annual competition to help promote poetry in the island with support from many individuals and organisations such as the Isle of Man Poetry Society.

With Arts Council sponsorship and support from Culture Vannin, Bridge and team worked tirelessly to secure funding and publicity for this project and, this August, the 10th Manx Bard will be appointed.

The first Manx Bard for many would be the great TE Brown, the poet of the Victorian era, with his Betsy Lee written in the hearts of many.

But the Manx Bard has been a way of celebrating the modern poets of the island. In the inaugural competition, Stacey Astill won the title and, following Stacey’s success, with the exception of one year affected by Covid, poets have been appointed annually since.

To be selected Manx Bard, poets are invited to send in a selection of three poems for initial consideration by a panel of fellow poets and writers. These are read ‘blind’ by the panel. Some poets are then invited for a reading and discussion of their work and their ideas for developing the role of Bard if successful.

The fifth Manx Bard and Team Bard member Annie Kissack said: ‘Most years there has been a very good selection of applicants and deciding on the new bard has been difficult.

‘Over the years, the successful poets have worked to their own strengths, some being more comfortable on a country stage or in open mic, others happier in more “literary” roles.

‘Some favour rhyme, some do not. All reflect aspects of Manx life to some extent but they have individual voices. There is no such thing as a typical Manx bard for different types of poetry appeal to different people.

‘One thing however, that unites the successful bards, is they all got a year in their rather lovely turquoise robes and a chance to be seated on the beautiful bardic chair, made by Graham Hall and Simon Capelen.’

The role of the Manx Bard is varied but writing new poems is essential and the poets need to be aware they represent the Isle of Man as well as themselves in the unique role.

Annie said: ‘The Manx Bard is sometimes asked to write poems for specific events or organisations, or simply to entertain. Others have become involved in teaching, running poetry workshops or collaborative arts events.

Some of them travel off the island, promoting Manx poetry from afar. Most choose to develop in their role as bards long after a new bard is appointed. Several have a legacy of published work here and further afield.

If you would like to be considered for the role of Manx Bard, you have until Friday, August 16, to apply and the new bard is due to be announced on Sunday, August 25. Poets will need to ensure their availability on the previous day.

Entry forms with further details are available on the Manx Bard Facebook page, Manx Bard or by emailing [email protected].