The coveted title of the 'Hampshire Poet' has been claimed by New Forest's Damian Kelly-Basher, concluding a thorough countywide search.

Kelly-Basher, a writer, performer, and facilitator, emerged victorious from the strong contingent of writers from across Hampshire who aspired for this prominent role.

Appointment to this sought-after position occurs biennially, orchestrated jointly by Hampshire Cultural Trust and the Winchester Poetry Festival. Kelly-Basher succeeds Nazneen Ahmed Pathak.

Damian has showcased his talent across the UK, marking his presence at reputed venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the WOMAD Festival.

Additionally, he has completed artistic commissions for councils and arts organisations, and organised copious poetry events and workshops. Previously involved with the NHS's public health division, Kelly-Basher has experience with projects in Central America and Eastern Europe too.

Kelly-Basher said: "Working with communities, I’ve always loved being around people, hearing their stories, sounds and the rhythms of neighbourhoods and different voices. As a writer, I just like to stroll around places, taking in their local history and culture, and seeing how we live now, with each other and our changing climate.

"I am thrilled to have been appointed the new Hampshire Poet and am really looking forward to getting to know all the different poetry and spoken word events, as well as the different writing groups, across the county. I really want the platform that being Hampshire Poet has given me to create spaces for anyone who feels like it to come along and have fun writing or performing their words."

As the Hampshire Poet, Kelly-Basher looks forward to commissioning work, conducting workshops, and delivering speeches and lectures throughout Hampshire. The role also allows him to champion poets and poetry.

Over the next two years, Kelly-Basher is set to significantly contribute to Hampshire's cultural scene, create fresh poetry, foster community engagement, and synchronise with the county's scheduled activities.