Luton poet laureate and her very close bond with the Bard

Mary Emeji with Helen Nellis and Syd Knight
Mary Emeji with Helen Nellis and Syd Knight

Not many people know that Luton is blessed with its own Poet Laureate.

Her name is Mary Emeji and she’s a qualified lawyer whose passion for poetry led to her being awarded the title by former Luton mayor Syd Knight in 2012.

Now the woman who not only founded Luton Poetry Society but who’s also penned five books – including Royal Luminosity, a celebration of the marriage of Prince William, and Timeless Date, allegedly in collaboration with that other great dramatist, William Shakespeare – has scored again.

She’s hosting Bedfordshire Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis at the group’s next meeting on Saturday, March 29.

Mary, 31, said: “I met her at one of my engagements at the Town Hall and she is such a special lady – and a lover of poetry too.

“Our members are really looking forward to performing before a great luminary.”

The theme of the event is ‘Colours’ and will consist of poetry recitals and live classical music.

Mary, who lives in Cambridge Street and originally came from Nigeria, has been penning love poems since she was a young girl.

She has an affinity with the Bard and dips into Shakespeare’s Sonnets every day.

The mother-of-two explained: “He’s always been my favourite poet and our writing is very similar.

“I feel really really close to him even though there are four centuries between us. We both write about love and he also talks about it as his muse, his inspiration.

“So I decided to do a book with him. Each section contains poems by me and poems from him. They’re timeless stories, there’s one duet between us where I use sentences from his sonnets alongside my own.

“Timeless Date is an opportunity to discover the mind of William, through the mind of Mary – his mother’s namesake.”

Mary was also moved to write Royal Luminosity in 2011 with poet Alan Rainer.

She said: “It reflects the themes of royal love, marriage, happiness, contemplation and the deep realities of life.

“I sent a copy to the Queen and received an acknowledgement from Her Majesty and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.”

Mary holds two law degrees from the University of Bedfordshire although she’s never practised.

“I’m a full time poet,” she said. “There’s so much talent in Luton and there’s always so much to do, from organising events to giving performances.

“People attending our meetings always say ‘Wow! Everyone is so welcoming and it’s like a breath of fresh air.’”

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