Who is Bard of Exeter?

I (Kimwei) am the Grand Bard of Exeter until National Poetry Day 2026, when I will pass the title on by my own nomination. In Exeter we have 2 bardships running at all times: the 1 year position of Bard and 7 year position of Grand Bard. Ceri Baker is the current Bard of Exeter.

But what is a Bard? What does it mean to be Grand Bard of Exeter? The title is very open and could essentially be called a Lauretteship. To find out more, visit Mark Linsey Earley’s website, which explains all.

Current Bard of Exeter (2024-25): Ceri Baker

Ceri Baker is the current Bard of Exeter Spring 2024-2025. She is a multi slam winning poet, including WOMAD festival 2022 slam champion. Spork Dead Poets 2022 and Spork Worst poet wins 2023. She is the host and founder of ‘Speakease’ Spokenword Poetry, Ashburton. Ceri is now part of the team that runs Spork Poetry Exeter, having received the Spork Up! Artist development fund 2022. She is a regular attender of Tim King’s ‘Taking the mic’ held monthly at The Phoenix, Exeter. Ceri has worked as a performer, facilitated theatre workshops in schools, prisons, women’s groups, with refugees and worked with neurodiverse young people and teenagers for over 20 years. She is a dedicated supporter of the poetry scene in Exeter both as an artist and attendee of live events.

Salena Godden says of Ceri’s first poetry collection, ‘F**k It…Pass The Salt, Please’ (Speakease Press, available @ceribakerwords) release date 15th March 2024:

‘Ceri Baker is a bold and beautiful poet. This collection is evocative and unflinching, generous in spirit and glorious.’

Current Grand Bard (2019-2026): Kimwei McCarthy

2018 Nigel Cheffers-Heard

My bardic bio: Kimwei is a unique performer with passion for the Bardic arts and has been BBC Radio Devon’s Poet/Bard in Residence since May 2020, writing and performing a creative piece every fortnight for Sarah Goslings Arts and Culture show. He also hosts Exeter Story Club

As well as being a singer-songwriter, Kimwei has composed and performed soundtracks for local storytellers and taken part in poetry slams. For the last decade, Kimwei has been involved in the Exeter performance scene and organised spoken word, music and mixed discipline events. With a broad foundation in both music and words Kimwei is an ideal choice for Grand Bard.

Website: kimwei.com

Previous Bards and History

2022-23 Edward Tripp

I am a spoken word artist/comedian, writer and visual artist, living and working in Devon. Spoken Word emerged from a consistent passion for writing, evolving rapidly into a passion for performance after my first open-mic gig. Being awarded the Bardship of Exeter for 2022/23 has been my peak achievement this year. I have coveted the Bardship for many years and I am deeply honoured to be added to the long list of previous, inspirational Exeter Bards.

In the last few years I have moved firmly into the realm of ‘Stand-up Poetry’ exploring a range of surreal concepts and ideas, using words, humour and the occasional theatrical prop to entertain and disorientate in equal measure. I have performed with a range of artists, comedians and arts organisations across the South West over the last 2-3 years. I was successfully recruited as a recipient of the ‘Spork Up’ award in 2019 – a mentorship programme for emerging spoken word artists, which led to a range of collaborations with performers such as Liv Torc, Johnny Fluffypunk and Chris White. I also won Spork’s! first poetry slam in 2021. I have performed for Wonderzoo, The Word Cafe, Apples and Snakes, Poetic License, Taking the Mic, Spork!, SproutSpoken and the comedy troupe ‘A Press of Suspects’. My proudest moments of 2022 included performing at WOMAD, as well as performing alongside my spoken word heroes Rob Auton and Hollie McNish. Facebook Page for Edward Tripp

2021-22 Robert Garnham, Professor of Whimsy

Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. He has made a few short TV adverts for a certain bank, and a joke from one of his shows was listed as one of the funniest of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson. professorofwhimsy.com/

2019-2021 extended due to pandemic: Tim King

Tim has won slams in Exeter, Totnes, Plymouth and Frome and appeared on-stage alongside many of the UK’s finest spoken word artists, including: Matt Harvey, Chris Redmond, Salena Godden, Hollie McNish, Joelle Taylor, Jonny Fluffypunk, Rebecca Tantony, Sally Jenkinson and Liv Torc.

Long time host of Exeter’s “Taking The Mic”, Tim is a spoken word artists with a commitment to supporting and developing emerging talent. Taking the Mic is a monthly Open Access event at Exeter’s Phoenix Arts Centre which he organises and hosts. Since 2012, Tim has also co-run the annual Exeter Poetry Festival Slam with Morwenna Griffiths.

2019: Melanie Crump

“It is with great sadness I have to tell you that Melanie Crump, Bard of Exeter passed peacefully away, with her family around her, at Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay in October this year. A passionate poet whose poetry wowed audiences and inspired so many people; a lovely lady who was so proud of becoming Bard of Exeter, and whose name will forever be remembered as such. On the 12th of December, Melanie’s family and poetry friends, gathered together at the Blue Walnut Café in Chelston, to pay tribute to this amazing lady, and her family chose this time to pass the Bardic Robe and Chair to Tim King, wordsmith, poet, and loved by all.” – Brenda Hutchings

Melanie was the founder and creative director of Riviera Writing, a literary organisation based in Torbay. She recently had a local history book on the struggle and suffrage of women published and performed poetry around the south west for over a decade. Melanie also hosted OrateOracle, a regular spoken word event, has worked in local festivals and conferences and was a committee member for Torbay Poetry Festival. She was passionate about using creative writing for health and well-being and often deliver workshops and poetry sessions in community mental health settings. She will be sadly missed. 

  • 2018: Kimwei McCarthy
  • 2017: Chris White
  • 2016: Robert Sean Casey
  • 2015: Mantie Lister
  • 2014: Daniel Haynes
  • 2013: Simon Williams
  • 2012: Jackie Juno & Clive Pig
  • 2011: Jon Freeman
  • 2010: Liv Torc

Grand Bard (2013-19): Jackie Juno

Jackie is a formidable force for magic, weaving it through many mediums, from poetry to song. As a spoken word artist she has won many slams including the official Glastonbury Festival Slam (2017), Green Gathering (2016) and Plymouth Lit Fest (2017), as well as reaching the finals of the National Poetry Slam (Albert Hall, 2018). In music, she is the lead singer of The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet – psychedelic deep space rock band, a Gong satellite band.  Jackie is also an artist, celebrant and creator of Goddess Workshops. Her work as Grand Bard has been far reaching, its centerpiece being The Grand Witches Tea Party.

Website: jackiejuno.com

Bardic Chair Originally Reclaimed by Mark Linsey-Earley in 2006

After serving as the 7th Bard of Bath (2002-3), Mark moved to Exeter and reclaimed the bardic chair. He first conceived the idea of a bardic website (for Bath) saying “Hey, you have to move with the times.” Mark is very passionate about the wider Bardic Revivalist Movement and can boast the rare feat of having held the title of Bardic Chair, Ovation Chair and Druid Chair. His principle vocation is healing (psychotherapy) and his classical influenced poetry mixed with quirky humour is described as ‘Roger McGothic.’(Taken from The Book of The Bardic Chair, Kevan Manwaring)

Facebook Profile: marklindsey.earley