A new bard of the Avon

Published: Wednesday, 22 June 2022

The Avon’s new Poet Laureate, admits she was lost for words when the Warwickshire river’s guardians, Avon Navigation Trust offered her the role of her life.

Somerset-based Alison Bergqvist, who’d hardly written before but being moved by boating on the beautiful river between Tewkesbury and Stratford-upon-Avon, says verses poured out for The little ANT book of River Poems.

Poet Laurate Boxes of the books were delivered in 2020 just before Alison’s birthday—and the first lockdown, which also shut off the trust’s merchandising outlets.

'Now two years and more/And water galore/ Under Avon’s ancient bridges', quoted Alison, right on cue.

'But time stands still/ By river and mill/ And my words as ardent as ever!'

Not that keen

It’s a wonder that the book ever happened at all. A long-time, RYA qualified, sailing enthusiast, Alison wasn’t that keen when partner Chris suggested cruising the Avon on his little Hardy 20 River Pilot Tess. Meanwhile ANT Chief Executive Clive Matthews cheerfully admits he’s a poetry newbie.

book coverBut Alison immediately fell in love with the ever-changing Avon, the verses started flowing and Clive was hooked, telling:

“I don’t know a lot about poetry, but even I can appreciate the quality of Alison’s work and the fact that our river inspires her so is very worth celebrating by making her our first Poet Laureate."

Alison had planned just to share her musing with friends and family and admits that the news that her audience will swell immensely was a life changer, explaining:

Most exciting thing

“It is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me, “I thought pootling up and down the Avon would be boring, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“I love every minute, there’s inspiration everywhere and the poetry gushes out.”

ANT also has a new vehicle to promote The little ANT book of River Poems: Written on and about the Warwickshire Avon.

The £4 book, The little ANT book of River Poems, which will raise funds for the charity, will be on sale on board William James as the trust's Avon Welcome Centre as well as via ANT’s website: