Nigerian poet announced as first young people’s laureate for London


Nigerian Poet and English teacher Caleb Femi, has just been named the first young people’s laureate for London.

The 26-year-old was chosen for the role by a panel including the Poetry Society and the Forward Arts Foundation. Guardian UK reported.

Femi said: “I feel honoured and excited to be the first Young People’s Laureate for London. I know what a huge role it is and I am ready to give it my all. I hope to re-engage young people, who have long been disenfranchised, through poetry.

“Poetry is the one of the purest forms of conversation there is. At its best, it allows us to communicate from an honest and safe place. And young people deserve to be included in such spaces.”


Femi will hold the position for a year, during which time he will set out to give Londoners aged between 13 and 25 a “platform to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry”, said Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, announcing its choice of laureate.

Femi’s projects will include heading a panel of judges in a new competition, the Young People’s Poetry prize, co-hosting the Young People’s PoetryLab, and showcasing the best new written and spoken word poetry at the Young People’s Poetry Salon at the end of his tenure. Guardian UK added.

Femi was chosen as the laureate by a panel consisting of representatives from arts bodies, including The Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Forward Arts Foundation and the Poetry Society, as well as the poets Jacob Sam-La Rose, Joelle Taylor, Pascale Petit and Nick Makoha.

Poet Jacob Sam-La Rose said he hoped the new laureate would encourage more young men to engage with poetry. “As a teacher, Caleb Femi already has practical experience supporting young people’s development, and he has the potential to be a galvanising force,” said Rose.

London Laureate is a scheme that was commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of Spoke, a poetry and spoken word programme.

It’s purpose is to provide people with a chance to watch, perform and develop careers in spoken word and performance poetry in and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Nigerian Selina Nwulu was named the young people’s laureate for London in 2015, Aisling Fahey in 2014 and Warsan Shire, the Somali-British poet who hit the headlines for her role in Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade was announced as the poet laureate in 2013.


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