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Search is on for Nottingham’s first young POET laureate

City of Lit

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature is searching for a young poet to represent Nottingham on the international stage. To coincide with Nottingham Poetry Festival, the call for applications opens today (Friday 28th April) and entries will be accepted via the Nottingham City of Literature website until the end of June 2017.

The competition is open to all poets aged between 18-30 who live, work or study in Nottingham. Entrants will be encouraged to send in a personal written statement, or a short film about themselves, covering their work as a poet, why they would like to have the role, what trends they’d like to explore as part of the role, and how they’d best use the role. They will also be required to send in two poems, with one themed on Nottingham. A panel of judges will then evaluate the applications.

The judges are:

PANYA BANJOKO: Nottingham based writer, poet and Patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.  She said: “If we are concerned with how best to continue the rich literary tradition that we have in this city and how to inspire the young, then this is it, a young poet laureate! ”

CALEB FEMI: Poet and English teacher, Caleb was named the first Young People’s Laureate for London, and is focussed on re-engaging disenfranchised young people through poetry.

SANDEEP MAHAL: Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, with a strong background in libraries and is passionate about transforming people’s lives through literature. She said: “Nottingham is one of the most exciting creative cities in the world. This is why Nottingham deserves a dynamic Young Poet Laureate, who will have a positive impact on our young people’s lives. We are looking for a young poet with a genuine desire to help young talent discover their own voice in poetry.”

HENRY NORMAL: Nottingham born comedian, screen producer, poet and founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival. Henry is a Patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.  He said: “Nottingham has a wealth of young poetic talent. The vibrancy of the local scene through the universities, workshops and many regular events was evident at this year’s poetry festival. The passion and energy of young Nottingham poets is infectious. A Young Poet Laureate for the city will help bring this love of words to a wider audience.”

DEBRIS STEVENSON: Founder of the former Mouthy Poets collective, Debris has taken her poetry from the streets of Camden to Shanghai, via the US and BBC Radio. She is currently developing her debut show, Poet in da Corner whilst teaching the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. She said: “When I moved to Nottingham from London 8 years ago, I was really overwhelmed by the wealth of talent and the originality here; the independent business, publishers and styles of event. I’ve seen performances at bus stops, on Market Square, in night clubs and beyond. This city has shaped my art for the better and opened by mind to new audiences as well as instilling a sense of responsibility to cultivate an atmosphere for new work and artists. But being outside of London in this climate (or ever) is not easy. There is a different financial investment per head and a different landscape of support and I know that can be a battle – a battle I fought whilst living here, and that has been reiterated since moving back to London.

“Having been through the London Laureate scheme, and set up the region’s biggest collective (Mouthy Poets CIC) working with thousands of young people across Nottingham and the East Midlands, I am so happy to be part of this programme. Nottingham’s young voices need to be heard nationally and internationally, its literary and cultural heritage is rich and relevant on an international scale, and I look forward to seeing this programme, not just invest in the one young person being appointed, but the wider body of young people that step forward to apply. This programme goes beyond the Laureate, it’s about investing in the next generation of writers and giving them the tools to build and believe in a literary community locally, nationally, internationally.”

A shortlist will be announced in July, with the successful poet announced on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September 2017.

Photo: Nottingham Young Poet Laureate Judge, Debris Stevenson



Posted on 28 April 2017

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