The Bardic Chair Contest is an ancient idea rooted in the traditions of the Celtic Druid priesthood. In days of yore, a Bard was someone who had trained for many years to learn the ballads, sagas, poems and histories of their tribe – not just a poet or a storyteller, but a history keeper of the community’s identity. These days, the idea of the Bard is more associated with specific figures such as Robert Burns or Shakespeare, but the tradition lives on as more and more towns and cities are starting up their own Bardic Chair Contests.

We don’t ask that you learn hundreds of stories and poems – and we don’t expect a lifetime’s commitment – but what we do ask is that you honour the spirit of the Bardic Role and (if you win) that you represent Northampton as its wordsmith for the following year. The winner will win a prize and the title of Bard of Northampton for a year and a day and get to keep the official Bardic Robes for that time period.

Once a bard always a bard, however, and after your term as Chaired Bard you will – if you so choose – be inaugurated as an Elder Bard into the growing roll call of honour that is the Northampton Bardic Council.

Here are the Rules:

Eligibility

  1. You must live no more than one days walk from the site of the contest.
  2. You must honour Truth above all things.
  3. You must as bard have no particular party political leanings (The Bard sits outside of such petty concerns in order to speak Truth)
  4. You must present yourself at the main stage by 1pm on the day of the contest and be present at the contest all day ’till the winner is announced.
  5. You must be 18 and over.

The Contest

Round 1: The Entrant must perform an ORIGINAL (i.e written by the entrant) poem, song, or story of their own choosing, of no longer than six minutes duration. (Why six minutes? 360 (seconds) being an ancient metric describing arcane rhythms)

Round 2: The Entrant must perform an ORIGINAL poem, story or song on the current year’s theme, of no longer than six minutes duration.

Round 3: The Entrant must write a statement of Bardic Intent – describing what they will do as Bard over the coming year to promote the spoken word in the community and represent Northampton as its wordsmith.

Apropos, what will the prospective Bard intend to do in terms of events, active involvement with the community and what special talents will they bring to the role? How will they be the ‘Voice of the People’? This will be delivered in the form of a speech of no longer than six minutes duration.

Entrants will be judged by a panel of their peers, townsfolk and local dignitaries and by an audience vote. The winner will be announced and given the title of Bard of Northampton on the day, in front of the gathered peoples of the town.

To enter the contest, please contact us using the form below.