After a countywide search, the hunt for the Hampshire Poet is over. Nazneen Ahmed Pathak from Southampton was selected from a very strong field of writers from all over Hampshire who applied for the sought-after post.
The appointment of the Hampshire Poet takes place every two years and is led by Winchester Poetry Festival and Hampshire Cultural Trust . The partnership between the two organisations brings a higher profile and more opportunities for the role, held by Kathryn Bevis since January 2020.
Nazneen Ahmed Pathak is a poet, novelist and textiles artist who lives in Southampton. Her poetry is often inspired by the theme of migration, which was the topic of her work as an academic researcher and historian at University College London and the University of Oxford. She is currently Writer in Residence with the Southampton Stories project at Southampton City Museums and has held residences at John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Libraries in the past. She runs writing workshops in schools, libraries and community settings. She was recently commissioned by Poet in the City to write a poem, inspired by the Covid-19 vaccination drive for their collaboration A Drop of Hope with the Francis Crick Institute. The poem, Dhonnobad, was then displayed on the building and was selected to be set to music by the London Sinfonietta. She has had poems published in the journal POEM and the anthology Places of Poetry: Mapping the Nation in Verse (OneWorld, 2020). For her fiction, she is represented by Louise Lamont at LBA Books.
On the news of her appointment, Nazneen commented: ‘I am thrilled and not a little overwhelmed to have been chosen to be Hampshire Poet following Kathryn’s inspirational tenure. I am really looking forward to working with Hampshire Cultural Trust and Winchester Poetry Festival to platform and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of poetry and communities across our fascinating county.’
The position of Hampshire Poet provides the opportunity for a Hampshire-based poet to undertake commissions, lead workshops and give readings and talks throughout the county, as well as acting as an advocate for poetry and poets. Opportunities have been identified throughout the next two years for the Hampshire Poet to play a significant role, providing the chance to create new work, engage members of the community and connect to planned activities taking place across Hampshire.
Deborah Neubauer Head of Community at Hampshire Cultural Trust commented ‘We are delighted that Nazneen will be working closely with us for the next two years as Hampshire Poet. We have seen from Kathryn Bevis’ two years that poetry can play an important part in bringing communities together, celebrating the cultural heritage of the county and inspiring people to get writing. We are excited to see what Nazneen will bring to the role with her wealth of experience and creativity.’
Jane Bryant, Chair of Winchester Poetry Festival, added: ‘We are very excited about Nazneen’s appointment to this special role. Using the power and playfulness of words, poetry can also have a very positive impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, and their sense of place and identity. We look forward enormously to working with Nazneen.’