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Waterfront Festival

Poems Picked by Nottingham's Young Poet Laureate Georgina Wilding

5 January 18 words: Georgina Wilding
illustrations: Natalie Owen

Our new Young Poet Laureate and Mud Press founder, Georgina Wilding, treats us to a selection of proper Notts poetry…

Left Lion

I've been sat here, on the left, since 1929!
My oh my! I've seen some sights!
From royal visitors in all their finery,
to rowdy locals on Saturday nights.

Pomp and processions I've seen them,
I've even seen Robin Hood and the Sheriff too!
I can remember when kids used to play in the fountains...
...and funfairs...well, I've seen quite a few!

Menelaus was my original name,
named for a Spartan warrior king.

Proudly I sit with my paws crossed,
through summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Now, I'm referred to as Leo,
I'd like to think that it's Leo for luck!
As I've witnessed many a successful rendezvous,
when lovers have met at the left lion, miduck!

I've lost count of all the children,
who have clamoured onto my back.
Posing and preening for photographs,
so many kids that I have lost track.

My brother, Agamemnon (our Oscar),
sits on the right side, facing me.
For some reason, he's not so popular,
I wonder how can that be?

It's the Left Lion where people meet up,
whatever the event that is occurring.
So, like all cats I sit here smugly.
If you listen closely you might hear me purring.

Joy Rice

What Georgina thinks...
Joy’s poem is bursting with excitement. I really love the way you can feel both hers and the city’s energy as you read this. I didn’t know the original names of the lions either, so that was a great gem of discovery for me when reading the poem. Also, who hasn’t climbed on that lion’s back for a pic with the girls on a Friday night? Not me, obviously…  


Specks of rain fall like
Spittle from the sky as I
Head homewards past
An unfamiliar figure
Silhouetted in
A frosted shop window.

I feel this city through
The soles of my shoes:
Tilted, broken slabs,
Uneven kerbstones and
The places where the
Rain collects.

This city I have made
An intricate paradise
Of labyrinthine streets
Ripe for exploration by
My awed eyes and
Eager feet.

Snatched glimpses between
Buildings of fantasy streetscapes
Enthral me, and I know
That one day I must
Stride into the unknown
And discover.

So much goes unnoticed by
The over familiar. Perhaps
It takes eyes like mine
To see what they miss.

For I am still
But a stranger here.
I feel I cannot yet claim
This city as my own,
But I wish to know it
As it has been
Good to me.

Richard Vince

What Georgina thinks...
The reason I enjoyed this poem by Richard, is because I really felt the mood of it. It has a sort of pensive feeling that I think we’ve all experienced from one time or another.

I love the idea of feeling a city through the soles of your shoes, as if treading along it somehow connects you to its core – a living breathing being in of itself. I definitely feel like walking through Nottingham and taking in the sites is an experience, it makes you feel both big and small at the same time.

I also enjoyed hearing about the city from the perspective of someone who isn’t originally from here, and thought that the honest notion of not claiming to feel as though the city is theirs, but wanting to know it more was really touching.

Sitting on a bench in the Arboretum, Nottingham

After James Wright

Over my head, I see the humbug-striped magpie
Standing on the thick black branch,
Shaking cherry blossom to the ground like confetti.
Down the hill, behind the empty bandstand,
The laughter of a hundred ducks
Merges with the swoop of passing tram carriages.
To my right,
In a field of spilled-paint grass, flung with buttercups,
A bright blue crisp packet
Glitters like an unearthed hoard.
I lean back, as the evening light lingers in the trees.
A woman walks past, pushing an empty pram.
Life without suffering is meaningless.

Leanne Moden

What Georgina thinks...
I meandered through Leanne’s poem much like I imagine she did before she found her bench in the Arboretum.

Her imagery feels full of integrity; I can really see the field flung with buttercups and the glittering crisp packet.

All the way through this poem I felt like I was being treated to seeing through Leanne’s eyes, which was a calming and humbling experience, until the last two lines hit like a punch to the stomach.

I had to include this poem because of the lingering shock I felt, being snapped from what was a beautiful, daydream like state at breakneck speed into reality.

Us That Stayed

- then suddenly everyone was a barista or worked at the Cornerhouse Nandos or the conference centre and the only time we could all meet up anymore was when they sky was dark as a URL when you’ve clicked it and been taken from Facebook to YouTube where you listened to the song in its entirety because when you said lol which bit made you think of me she said all of it.

Gutter full of leaves,
empty city full of light,
a sky full of rain.

Joshua Judson

What Georgina thinks...
Josh’s poem made me cast my mind back to that first summer after I’d finished my degree. It felt like all of my friends had left the city, and those who were still here, like me, were in quick serving jobs to try and get some cash, land our feet, and plan our next move. It’s a funny old time, that, and Nottingham can feel bigger than it ever was.

Aside from that, I loved the way that Josh brought the age old tradition of sending your crush a link to every song ever that reminds you of them! For a short poem, it definitely took me on a winding trip down memory lane.

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