New Stamford poetry stone is unveiled at St Michael’s Churchyard

The unveiling of the Stamford Poetry Stone
Photo: Lee Hellwing
The unveiling of the Stamford Poetry Stone Photo: Lee Hellwing

A new stone marking Stamford’s “enduring commitment” to poetry has been unveiled.

The Stamford Poetry Stone was unveiled in front of crowds at St Michael’s Churchyard, off the High Street in Stamford, on Wednesday afternoon and after mixed weather during the day, the sun came out for the unveiling.

There was an audience of school children and poet laureates past and present, who performed a selection of poems.

The installation was conceived by Stamford poets, artist Beatrice Searle and Karen Burrows of Stamford Arts Centre and was made possible by donations from the Harry Skells Trust, Stamford Arts Centre and Ketton Stone.

The stone itself has been carved by artist and former Lincoln Cathedral stonemason, Beatrice Searle and has the words “We are all poets” carved onto it.

St Michael’s Churchyard was chosen as the location as it’s a natural amphitheatre and acts as a literal platform for people to step into the footsteps of Stamford’s poet laureates and recite their own words and verse.

The stone even features the footprints of the town’s first poet laureate Darren Rawnsley, who held the role in 2012.

Stamford’s current poet laureate Camilla McLean said: “This beautiful stone will hopefully inspire generations of poets to come and demonstrate that poetry is alive, empowering and incredibly important in this age of constant and confusing messages.

“We hope that young people and adults alike will take a stand and speak their truth from the stone. We are all poets.”

Beatrice said: “ The carving of footprints into stone has a rich historical precedent in Pictish, Medieval and Roman history. Whether to lead or to vote, those who stood in these stones did so to be imbued with the power to speak, harnessing some of the stone’s wisdom, strength and resilience through their direct contact with this ancient material.

“Standing in rock has the great ability to anchor and empower a person, and those for whom the landscape of Stamford is beloved can draw an ancient strength from their connection with this local, Jurassic limestone.”

Seasonal readings will take place from the stone and members of the public will be encouraged to share video or images of their readings #stamfordpoetrystone

Karen added: “This is a golden age of poetry and we are delighted that the town of Stamford is at the forefront of this.

“This remarkable poetry stone marks Stamford Arts Centre’s ongoing commitment to spreading the 
word.”

She added her thanks to the following for their support: Beatrice Searle, the Harry Skells Trust, Stamford Arts Centre, (Gareth Whitley, Jo Dobbs), the Urban Planning Group, Ketton Stone, Andre Verona, Coun Andrew Croft, Matthew Cox Antiques and Precision Landscapes.