Young Poet Laureate for London

Young Poet Laureate for London

The Young Poet Laureate is a Spread the Word programme, supported by the Foundation for FutureLondon.This terrific opportunity supports and develops some of London’s most talented young poets, generating income possibilities, creating work opportunities and elevating the profile of the successful poets, accelerating their careers as creative professionals.

The role of a Poet Laureate is to respond to a particular place and time. The Young Poet Laureate for London will be commissioned to carry out five two-week writing residencies in different community settings. This will mean spending time in a particular location (for example, a street, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a community centre or a school) and encouraging people to get involved through writing and performing poetry (your own and theirs) with workshops, ad-hoc interactions and planned performances/ readings.

Each residency will be arranged in advance with our project team. A fee of £1500 will be paid for each residency; this will include the time required for planning and preparation and for writing a final poem associated with each setting. The total value of the contract for being Young Poet Laureate for London is £7500 plus any additional commissions that arise as a result of holding that title.

In addition to the residencies, the Young Poet Laureate may be invited to perform at a range of events and to produce commissioned work. Spread the Word will provide support and guidance throughout the year, including free access to our writer development workshops and masterclasses.

What qualities are we looking for in a Young Poet Laureate for London?

First and foremost, we are looking for strong poetry. After that, we are looking for someone with the following qualities: Willingness to learn and develop (we don’t expect you to be perfect!)Aptitude for performance (ideally you’ve performed your work before) Ability to manage time and tasks (you will be busy and we expect you to work hard and to be organised) Awareness of the public nature of the role of Young Poet Laureate for London and ability to conduct yourself appropriately Willingness to write in response to events, places and people during the year. Willingness to support the promotional campaign for the programme, providing media interviews and written content as appropriate. The role can be demanding and requires a level of self-knowledge and resilience. Expectations and limelight are not for everyone and we ask you to consider this before applying for the role.

Who can apply?

Applications are invited from young people aged between 21 – 30. You must be in this age range on 17 August 2015 and you must live in a London Borough. This means you must have a London postcode for your home address (if you’re not sure, websites such as Doogal provide a map). The role requires that you are actually living in London and is not open to those living elsewhere in the UK, even if you are originally from London. The position is not suitable for those in full time education, or for those who already have significant professional commitments.

Our advisory panel will consider all applications. An initial shortlist of 15 applicants will be invited to a workshop selection day. From this group of 15, six finalists will then be invited to take part in a week-long residential workshop. The selection panel will choose the next Young Poet Laureate for London from this final six.

Selection Panel 2015


Sally Spurring
Jacob Sam La Rose
Imtiaz Dharker
Claire Gevaux (Creative Director – Foundation for FutureLondon)
Nick Makoha
Ruth Harrison (Director – Spread the Word)

London Laureates: opportunities for shortlisted poets


If you make it through to the final six, you will be invited to become one of the London Laureates. These poets have considerable development opportunities and support throughout the year; a bursary of £800 towards a project of their choice and the opportunity for paid work and commissions. We work together with each of them to maximise their potential and work towards realising their ambitions. In 2015/16, we are keen to encourage the London Laureates to produce an anthology, including work inspired from their year. The London Laureates 2014 all benefited from career development and you can find out more about what they’ve been up to here.

The standard of applications over the last two years has been to such a high standard, that an additional collective, Podium Poets, was formed; which the 15 poets invited to the workshop selection day will also be invited to join. This group come together over several months to participate in development opportunities and poetry craft workshops.