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  • Jo Clement

Judge: Darlington Poetry Competition

Back in April I judged Darlington Library's Under 11's Poetry Competition. Two of our three verse-tastic prize winners were presented with certificates, goody bags and some personalized locks to secure onto the rapidly growing Love Lock the Library campaign. Attaching these locks to the chains wrapped around the fenced facade of Crown Street Library was a moment tinged with celebration and sad rebellion at the potential loss of this brilliant resource.

One of our winning bards is still missing, see this article in the Northern Echo.

This competition was no mean feat to judge as the poems were bursting full of rhyme, boasting love for libraries, with splashes of mermaid tails, the ultra deep voice of Batman and as always with Darlington, the distant rattle of trains. After a fantastic recital of the poems by each winning poet, we eagerly headed outside to add our locks to the railings. 


This was an important move to stake our claim and remind the local council that the affiliation and affection felt towards Crown Street Library isn't simply a nostalgic reluctance to let go of the past. This library has been loved and still is loved and used by people of all ages. I was amazed by the number of ribbons, messages and the sheer determination the town is showing in fighting the scaling down and relocation of our library to the local leisure centre, the Dolphin Centre. 


The chains were removed soon after this event. We can only ask why the council felt it necessary to remove such a peaceful and harmless form of community protest. It was doing no damage nor harm, serving only to raise awareness of the travesty that are these proposals. Perhaps there is an inkling of hope in this cowardly move: Darlington Borough Council know the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.


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