Our key aims for this project were:

  • To promote poetry, literature and our organisation widely to the people of Nottingham 
  • To use poetry to grow Nottingham’s national and international profile as a UNESCO City of Literature.
  • To inspire Nottingham’s young people to discover their own voice in poetry 
  • To provide us with essential insights into what it means to be young in Nottingham
  • To create a new cultural leadership position and talent development opportunity for a Nottingham poet aged 18-30
  • To support a young generation of poets by leading six youth-focused residencies reaching 120 young people and experimenting with new approaches to engagement.   

Our expert judging panel for this role comprised of:

  • Panya Banjoko (Poet, Educator and Nottingham Black Archive founder) 
  • Caleb Femi (London’s Young People’s Laureate 2016-2018)
  • Henry Normal (Poet, author, film producer and Nottingham’s Poetry Festival founder)
  • Debris Stevenson (Writer, Poet and Mouthy Poets founder)
  • Sandeep Mahal (Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Director, 2016-2022).   

On Thursday 28 September 2017 – National Poetry Day – Georgina Wilding, a 22-year-old from Arnold was announced as our winner. Georgina had been running her own small publishing outlet Mud Press, had written and performed for both BBC radio and TV and had toured her poetry across the UK and Germany, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

On hearing the news that she had been selected, Georgina said: “I am in absolute awe of the opportunity that’s been given to me from Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature team. Both Nottingham and poetry are home to me, and I cannot wait to officially marry the two together for this prestigious role. Nottingham, let’s go get ’em!”’    

Thus began a busy two years for Georgina as Nottingham’s Young Poet Laureate. During that time she wrote and performed poems to commission for various stakeholders in the city, including for both the University of Nottingham and for Nottingham Trent University. 

Georgina benefitted from Arvon training and two mentors: Caroline Bird and Roger Robinson. Georgina said on the impact: “It really helped me to look at my poems in a completely different way, and as a result have really boosted the quality of my work. The intensive five-days of teaching and feedback and editing time really made me think hard about my writing, and I produced more poems in one week than I usually do over the course of the average month. It was also a great confidence boost for me.”

This programme has led to many thrilling long-term opportunities for Georgina including:

  • A 2-month paid international residency in Krakow
  • Her appointment as the first Creative Director of Nottingham Poetry Festival
  • Her poetry was featured in a new ‘Our Voices Are Verses’ anthology published by Big White Shed

In 2022 Georgina published her debut poetry book Hag Stone with Verve Poetry Press. She is still a regular performer in the city and is currently working as the Events Manager at Nottingham Central Library.

  • Georgina performed at dozens of cultural events across the city including at Hockley Hustle and Nottingham Poetry Festival. She also performed alongside the National Poet Laureate Carol-Ann Duffy at Lowdham Book Festival.
  • We organised opportunities for exporting Georgina and her work beyond the city reaching audiences of 1,500+ including in Birmingham, Manchester and Newark. Georgina was also involved in various events with over 18s at the Milosz international poetry festival in Krakow, Poland; she attended the Jaipur literature festival in India; and also performed at various events in Granada, Spain.
  • She produced work for media outlets including BBC Four, BBC Nottingham and LeftLion
  • Some of her poems were blown up on big banners and placed around popular locations around the city centre. 
  • Georgina led Young Poet Laureate writing residencies at Lakeside Arts, City Arts, Hyson Green Library and Djanogly Academy reaching 500+ young people who participated.
  • 14 new Young Poet Laureate films were produced and viewed over 8,700 times.
  • She also worked alongside LeftLion and Nottingham Together on their ‘Our Nottingham Things’ community writing workshops. The poem that came out of this has been viewed over 30,000 times on youtube.

All of this year’s shortlisted poets deserve to be celebrated as the calibre was high. I am excited for Nottingham and its young people with Georgina Wilding as their first Laureate. Her poetry, performance presence and ambitions to use the power of poetry to change lives made an immediate impression on the judges. Georgina will play a fantastic role in promoting poetry to young people, and young people will love and be inspired by Georgina.”
Sandeep Mahal, Director, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, 2016-2022

“I am in absolute awe of the opportunity that’s been given to me from Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature team. Both Nottingham and poetry are home to me, and I cannot wait to officially marry the two together for this prestigious role. Nottingham, let’s go get ’em.”
Georgina Wilding