Beth, 16, is chosen as Stoke-on-Trent's Young Poet Laureate
A YOUNG writer with imaginative flair has been chosen as Stoke-on-Trent's Young Poet Laureate.
Bethanie Hardie, aged 16, beat 30 other young people to become the city's champion for poetry. She will spend the next 12 months visiting schools, youth centres and libraries to encourage and inspire others to enjoy poems.
She was picked from five finalists who performed their work in front of a panel of judges on Saturday.
Each of them submitted four of their own pieces, one of which was themed on the city and they read the poems to an audience of family and friends at the City Central Library.
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The judges were looking for an experienced poet capable of producing original and creative works, and performing them at events throughout the year.
Bethanie's work, titled 'What I see in the City' included the lines: "Exploring the potteries, endless possibilities. The hum of the traffic can always be heard, comforting."
By becoming the Young Poet Laureate she has won £100 prize money and one of her poems will be made into a postcard to distribute at her speaking events.
The teenager admitted the poetry recital for the final had been nerve wracking.
She said: "I'm relieved to have done it. I don't really do a lot of public speaking but I guess I'm going to get a lot of practice over the next year.
"I've been writing a book for about two years and one of my teachers suggested entering the poetry competition.
"Writing poems was actually a bit of light relief from my novel.
"I read a lot and I use my life experiences when I write. Something as simple as looking out of the window and seeing people walking by can inspire me."
Bethanie is a pupil at Haywood High School studying English literature, language and French.
She wants to continue studying languages at university in London and dreams of becoming a published author with a series of romance or sci-fi books.
She said: "I like to write about subjects which are far away from reality.
"All my friends at school were wishing me luck for the competition. Quite a few of them write as well so we talk about it and encourage each other. I'm looking forward to going into other schools and doing the same for other young people."
Competition judge Jayne Stanley, principal librarian for the city council's children and young people services, said: "All the poems were excellent, but we judge the performances as well as the writing.
"Bethanie did a great job, but congratulations to everyone in the final five. It was extremely difficult to pick a winner."
Bethanie's parents Gill and Derek Hardie, of Bank Hall Road, Burslem, were at the recital.
Mrs Hardie, aged 47, said: "Bethanie has always loved books, I used to read to her from a young age and we've encouraged her writing. We are so proud. We just think she's amazing.
"She'll be the first to go to university in the family. She's so creative and capable."
Bethanie is the second young poet to win the accolade in a competition which is open to 11 to 19-year-olds. Last year Smallthorne teenager Daniel Tatton set the benchmark.
He was commissioned to write poems during the year, including a festive work entitled Christmas Time which he read at the city centre lights event.