Could you be Birmingham’s next Poet Laureate?

The Library of Birmingham, along with local writer development group Writing West Midlands, is looking for a talented poet to become Birmingham’s next Poet Laureate.

Alongside the city-wide search for a successor to Adrian Blackledge, the hunt is also on for a new Young Poet Laureate to follow on from Serena Arthur.

Anyone living, working or studying in Birmingham can apply for either of these honorary posts. Budding poets have until 12 August 2016 to submit their applications.

A panel of four judges from the Library of Birmingham, Writing West Midlands, Waterstones Birmingham and Poetry on Loan will announce the new poet laureates during a special event on National Poetry Day (6 October 2016), to launch the 18th Birmingham Literature Festival.

Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is home to a wealth of literary talent and our poet laureates have played an important part in promoting poetry for 20 years, so we’re eager to see what the next generation will produce this year.

“The Library of Birmingham’s partnership with Writing West Midlands has generated brilliant work from previous laureates, and its profile as a cultural destination will enable this year’s winners to make poetry accessible to people across the city.

“Birmingham libraries have led the way with innovative projects like this, such as Stories from the Web and Book Start, which celebrate language, literature and, of course, poetry.”

The two-year role is an honorary post with a small budget to commission poems and fund activities. To apply, candidates must submit two poems, with one on the subject of Birmingham along with a personal statement outlining what they would like to achieve with the role.

This might include writing poems to commission, performing poetry, running workshops, getting involved in cultural events and working with the city’s many poets and poetry groups.

To apply, candidates must submit two poems – including one about Birmingham – along with a personal statement outlining what they would like to achieve with the role

Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands, said: “The Birmingham Poets Laureate have a vital role to play in the life of the city.

“We are delighted to be working with the Library of Birmingham to help develop this marvellous initiative. We know that the two poets to take on these roles over the next two years will have a brilliant time and we look forward to working with them.”

Poets applying for the posts must live, work or study in Birmingham and the Poet Laureate applicants should be aged 18 or over in October 2016 and Young Poet Laureate applicants should be between 11 and 17-years-old at 1 October 2016

Entries can be submitted via Writing West Midlands website:

For more information please visit


Media contact: Caroline Bletso on 07913 102 837 or

Notes to editors

The members of the judging panel are:

  • Jan Paterson – Duty Manager, Library of Birmingham
  • Jonathan Davidson – Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands
  • Stuart Bartholomew – Regional Manager, Waterstones Birmingham
  • Brenda Read-Brown – Director of Poetry on Loan

About the Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham is a major cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries.

The Library of Birmingham is a showcase for the city’s internationally important collections of archives, photography and rare books. New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space open up public access to the collections for the first time.

It is also home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. Other facilities include a new flexible studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other informal performance spaces, a recording studio, and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers. By harnessing new technology, everyone from Birmingham to Beijing, Bangalore and beyond is able to access the Library of Birmingham’s world-class resources.

Described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’, the Library of Birmingham is highly accessible and family-friendly. It delivers excellent services through collaboration between the library, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, partners and communities. It provides a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance together with outstanding resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. As a centre of excellence for literacy, research, study, skills development, entrepreneurship, creative expression, health information and much more, the Library of Birmingham is changing people’s lives.

About Writing West Midlands

Writing West Midlands evolved from the work of the Birmingham Book Festival, established in 1999. The organisation is now the literature development agency for the region.

We achieved National Portfolio Organisation status from the Arts Council in 2012; an important step which confirmed our strategic role in building the sector’s diversity and resilience.

The annual festival, recently renamed Birmingham Literature Festival, remains at the heart of our work and is now the biggest literature event in the region.


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