I 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 bardships running at all times: the 1 year position of Bard and 7 year position of Grand Bard.
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 (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. https://professorofwhimsy.com/
Current Grand Bard (2019-2026): Kimwei McCarthy
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.
Previous Bards and History
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.
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