Young Poet Laureate for Nottingham

We are looking for a wonderful poet to fill this honorary post from September 2017 and become our first Young Poet Laureate for Nottingham. 

This is a fantastic new award and paid commissioning opportunity given to a poet aged 18 -30 who lives, studies, or works in Nottingham. This prestigious role recognises and rewards talent and potential and provides a career–changing programme of public engagements, professional development and networking from September 2017. 

“Inspire a love of poetry and support a young generation of poets”

Managed and administered by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, the Young Poet Laureate role will offer the winning poet the opportunity to work internationally and across Nottingham’s diverse communities, bringing untold tales to the fore.

The Young Poet Laureate for Nottingham will have a busy two years, including five residencies, five commissions, readings and other public appearances, as well as being expected to produce work reflecting their extraordinary laureateship. In addition, they will play a fantastic role in promoting poetry to young people, inspiring hundreds of young people at workshops and events, through their writing, and at performances across the city. They will be asked to write and perform poetry at important events in the city and beyond including World Poetry Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, International Women's Day and Black History Month. 

The opportunity

We are looking for a wonderful poet to fill this honorary post from September 2017 and become our first Young Poet Laureate for Nottingham. During your two-year tenure, you will be asked to help make poetry accessible across diverse communities and to use poetry to help promote the city. This will include writing poems to commission, performing poetry, getting involved in cultural events and working with the city’s many poets and poetry groups.

Working over two years, the programme will also embrace contemporary forms of poetry such as Grime and other lyricists.  In addition, you will support a new generation of poets and inspire a love of poetry by leading five youth-focused poetry workshops in venues across Nottingham including Community Recording Studio, Hyson Green Library, City Arts and Lakeside Arts Centre.

Your will receive:

A core role

  • 5 paid residencies to the total fee of £5,000 (£1,000 for each residency). Each residency will culminate in a poem to be written in response to the youth-focussed workshops you deliver (based on spending 5 days at each residency venue) with a workshop audience of 20 young people in each venue.
  • A programme of 4 public engagements/performances to the total fee of £1,000 (£250 per performance)
  • Take part in local and national media coverage
  • Placement on two Arvon writing residencies

Support, training and development

  • Support from an expert events/workshop producer and the Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature team
  • 5 sessions of support and advice from a mentor specialising in poetry
  • 5 sessions of support and advice from a mentor specialising in professional and creative business development

Additional opportunities

  • Explore additional paid opportunities to work nationally and internationally through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network
  • Invitation to participate in and help steer Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature’s young people’s engagement programme 
“The Young Poet Laureate will serve as a cultural leader for aspiring poets, specifically targeting young people from disadvantaged areas of the city and facilitating them to harness the power of words to articulate their experiences. ”

Structure of the Laureateship

The structure of your Laureateship will be tailored as far as possible to your individual development needs. The Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and the Producer will meet you in the initial stage of your Laureateship to discuss your aspirations and development needs. We will offer advice to you on the various possibilities for your Laureateship.


You will be expected to commit a minimum of 60 days between September 2017 and March 2019. This is a flexible role, and can fit around your other work or personal commitments, but it will be up to you to negotiate with your employer, if appropriate, the periods of time when you will be unavailable for work.

Relationships with mentors can take time to build and so we will spend some time between October and December 2017 putting these in place. You should expect to undertake the core of your programme such as the youth residency workshops, public engagements, training and writing residencies between September 2017 – March 2019.   

Our panel of judges

Panya Banjoko

Nottingham based writer whose work has been published in various anthologies. She has performed widely, including the 2012 Olympic Games, and as part of the award winning film, Brit I Am, directed by Andi Osho, and more recently as part of a BBC Documentary based on the Olympian Jamie Baulch. Panya is Patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. 

Visit Panya Banjoko's profile

Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi is the first Young People’s Laureate for London. Caleb won the Roundhouse Poetry Slam in 2015, has performed at the Barbican, Rich Mix, Royal Festival Hall, Latitude and Bestival, exhibited a cross-arts show at the Edinburgh Fringe and received commissions from the Tate Modern and Lift Festival. He is part of the SixWeeks collective of photographers, videographers, poets and rappers and has released two documentaries ‘What Did Love Taste Like in the 70s?’ and ‘Heartbreak and Grime’. A trained secondary school English teacher, Caleb has led poetry workshops in schools and youth organisations across London. 

Sandeep Mahal

Sandeep is Director of Nottingham UNESCO of Literature. She has a background in libraries, literacy and digital arts, grounded in a lifelong passion for reading: like many others, she grew up spending many afternoons in dusty libraries immersed in books. 

Visit Sandeep Mahal's profile

Henry Normal

A comedian, television producer and poet, and founder of Nottingham Poetry Festival. Henry received an honorary doctorate of letters by Nottingham Tent University and is Patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. 

Visit Henry Normal's profile

Debris Stevenson

At secondary school between 2002 – 2008, Debris was educated through the evolution of Grime and found poetry in the mouths of the testosterone and teenagers around her. Nurtured by the Roundhouse, Debris was then followed by Channel 4, published by organisations such as, Louis Vuitton, Oxford University, BBC Radio 4 and finally Flipped Eye with her debut pamphlet, Pigeon Party. A social carrier pigeon, Debris has worked in over 20 countries and across the UK and been awarded over £250,000 by Arts Council England to develop young talent in the East Midlands and beyond (Mouthy Poets CIC). Debris’ current focus is her debut grime poetry show, Poet in da Corner but she can also often be found dancing to Grime, Soca or Dancehall.

Visit Debris Stevenson's profile

Who can apply? 

To apply you should be between 18 and 30 years of age on 1st October 2017 and must have lived, studied or worked in Nottingham for a minimum of 2 years. Applicants must be able to write to commission and perform and talk about their work in public. 

The role requires you to have: 

  • Experience of public speaking
  • Experience of and passion for facilitating workshops and engaging young people with poetry 
  • An awareness of the issues affecting young people in Nottingham 
  • A wide knowledge of contemporary poetry 
  • A wide knowledge of the poetry landscape in and around Nottingham. 

If shortlisted, you should be available for interview in August / early September and if selected be available to perform on the evening of National Poetry Day: Thursday 28th September 2017 in Nottingham. You need to live, study or work in Nottingham for the duration of the laureateship.

How to apply?

Apply by Friday 30th June, complete the online form below or download the Application form and email your submission to Contact Us

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 30th June 2017

All applications received will be acknowledged. The shortlist will be announced in July 2017. 

Good luck!

Application form 

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