THE search for the county’s next poet laureate has been kick-started with the announcement of a new partnership to drive the scheme.

Hampshire Cultural Trust and Winchester Poetry Festival have teamed up in the hunt to find the Hampshire Poet 2020. It is hoped the pairing between the two organisations will bring a higher profile and new opportunities for the role of poet laureate.

The Hampshire Poet programme has been running every two years since 2008 and aims to foster local writing talent.

It provides the opportunity for a poet who lives or works in the county to undertake commissions, lead workshops and give readings and talks throughout the area.

Opportunities have been identified for the county's poet laureate to play a significant role in highlighting key cultural events throughout the year, as well as working with the 2020 Winchester Poetry Festival.

Hampshire Cultural Trust chief executive Paul Sapwell said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Winchester Poetry Festival to bring a fresh focus to this role.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for an exceptional talent to promote poetry as an art form and to be at the centre of the cultural life of Hampshire.”

The new poet laureate will have the chance to create new work, engage members of the community and connect to planned activities taking place across the county during the year.

As well as being a talented poet, he or she will act as a strong advocate for poetry and poets.

Robyn Bolam, who is based in the New forest and was selected as the most recent Hampshire poet laureate, said: “Being chosen as Hampshire Poet 2018 was inspirational as well as a huge privilege.

“I’ve been passionate about reading and writing poetry since primary school, so having the opportunity to pass on my enthusiasm to people of all ages has been an honour.

“I would strongly encourage Hampshire poets to apply to help poetry continue to flourish in our county.”

Applications for the role are now open and will close on Friday, November 15, with interviews for shortlisted poets set to take place on Thursday, December 12.

For more information on the role and how to apply go to winchesterpoetryfestival.org/hampshire-poet-2020