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Worcester Graduate Launches New Work at Country's Biggest Poetry Festival

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A University of Worcester graduate launched her new collection of poetry at the internationally-renowned Ledbury Poetry Festival last week.

Ruth Stacey, who studied for a Master’s degree in Literature: Politics and Identity at Worcester, was one of three Midlands-based poets selected to unveil new work at the ten-day event, which is regarded as the best and most prestigious poetry festival in the country.

Ruth’s collection, entitled ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’, focuses on every English or British queen from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. The aim of the collection is to give each queen a voice and to capture the feeling of the historical period, chronicling the changing poetic styles and the evolution of the role of queen or consort.

“The collection began through curiosity and passion for the subject matter,” Ruth explains. “From a very early age I would read any book I could about Kings and Queens, and this naturally came out within my own writing.

“During my first module at Worcester, I was introduced to the work of the poet Susan Howe, whose books are layered with historical references and imagery. This intertextuality excited me and made me think about layering historical primary sources, imagined voices and poetic form within my own writing.

“When I then began a creative writing module, it seemed natural to extend the ideas into a project to create a full collection of poems and I chose to just focus on women who took on the role of queen. I was interested in the limitations and expectations of that role.”

She continues: "The Master’s course at Worcester was invaluable for introducing me to inspiring and motivating people who widened my knowledge and encouraged my writing. I am also grateful to Eyewear for publishing 'Queen, Jewel, Mistress’ and to the Arvon Foundation for a grant that enabled me to workshop my poetry with Fiona Sampson and David Harsent.

“Also, my thanks go to the Ledbury Poetry Festival for my book launch and the Jerwood Foundation for the generous grant that enabled me to attend a voice coaching and performance course with Kirstin Linklater.”

Among those who attended Ruth’s launch event at Ledbury was Julie MacLusky, Senior Lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Worcester, and one of Ruth’s former teachers.

She explains: “It is very rare for a newly published poet to have the honour of launching their collection at Ledbury. The festival is extremely prestigious, attracting and celebrating renowned poets from across the world, so this was a real honour for Ruth.

“We worked on this collection for around a year, and each week I would look forward to Ruth’s arrival in my office with about three new poems,” she continues.

“The collection is great because the reader benefits from the real historical research woven into each poem; you discover things you never knew before and, as you read, you seem to be 'hearing' the voice of each woman speaking directly to you.

“I got an introduction into the lives of all our Queens this way - the poem about Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the princes who were murdered in the Tower, made my hair stand on end and I cannot forget it.”

For more information on Ruth, and details of how to purchase the ‘Queen, Jewel, Mistress’ collection, visit www.ruthstacey.com.