The Young People’s Laureate for London

21 September 2016

Paul Sherreard from Spread The Word tells us about their new scheme aimed at creating opportunities for young writers across the city

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Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London launches on October 3rd. This is a newly created role that has grown out of our Young Poet Laureate scheme.

The new Young People’s Laureate for London will be an advocate for young people in London. They will work to create opportunities for young writers across the city, in a scheme that sees a major expansion of Spread the Word’s youth engagement work.

Funded by the Foundation for Future London, the selected poet will work with Spread the Word for 12 months. During their year in post they will take on youth-focused residencies around London. They’ll also be given a range of poetry-development opportunities to help them make progress in their career.

As well as that, the Young People’s Laureate for London will lead a whole new set of projects for young and emerging writers of poetry in London:

  • They’ll head up the panel of judges in a brand new competition for young poets – The Young People’s Poetry Prize
  • Working with poetry mentors and practitioners, they’ll co-host a special development project for young people – The Young People’s PoetryLab
  • And to cap their year off, they’ll curate and lead an in-depth development day – The Young People’s Poetry Salon – which will feature a celebratory showcase of the finest new young page and spoken word poetry talent in our city.

How did Spread the Word select the Young People’s Laureate for London 2016?

To find the right person for the job, a panel of writers and organisations were invited to nominate poets. The panel members were poets or organisations with an up-to-date understanding of the poets and poetry emerging from London.

Between them, the nominations panel gave Spread the Word a list of 18 London poets aged 29 or under – poets whose work is impressive, who have a track record of engaging with young people and communities, and who have the energy and enthusiasm to take on this demanding role. From the list of nominees, three poets were interviewed with one poet being invited to take on the role.

The nominations panel was made up of The Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Forward Arts Foundation, The Poetry Society Spread the Word, and poets Jacob Sam-La Rose, Joelle Taylor, Pascale Petit and Nick Makoha.

How do I get involved?

Spread the Word will soon be advertising dates for focus groups where you can meet the new Young People’s Laureate and share your thoughts and opinions on poetry and issues for young people in London, and have your chance to influence the decisions we make when we plan the year ahead for the Young People’s Laureate.

Sign up to Spread the Word’s newsletter, visit the website and follow @STWevents for more information about when to register for events and opportunities to develop your own poetry – such as the competition and PoetryLab.

And if you want to get in touch with the Young People’s Laureate, or to talk to us about booking a visit to a school or a youth group, please email info@spreadtheword.org.uk with the subject heading ‘Young People’s Laureate’.