Kira Nelson is a young poet and aspiring author from Orpington, Greater London. She has been writing poetry consistently since 2020, first sharing her series "Quarantine Poems" via her social media platforms. Since then, Kira has published work in several charity books and journals and performed spoken word poetry at her university and across the East of England. Her interests include LGBT+ activism, music, modern European history and astronomy, and she is currently studying for a BA in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Kira was appointed Poet for Places in June 2023.
How you are feeling about being the winning poet?
"Poetry is my go-to medium of self-expression and an invaluable outlet. It gives you the power to touch topics that you are passionate about in a personal, meaningful way; to look not only outward at how you perceive the world around you but also within yourself. To have the opportunity to use my voice and my pen as a tool for learning, deeper understanding and self exploration is a privilege to me and something not many have the chance to experience."
Are you excited to explore London with us?
"This is going to be huge for me. London is my birthplace but there is so much I have yet to discover. I am in love with modern history and the city is perhaps more steeped in it than any other in the Western World. We are an almost unparalleled centre of culture, innovation and beautiful uniqueness. I am proud to be a Londoner and I can't wait to get started!"
Read Kira's entry 'Garden' below:
By Kira Nelson
two years since
I spoke to Mum in silence
at her garden in Beckenham
the others keep her blooming
in red and pink plastic
I speak on my own
my lie on her stone
my wounds bleeding into hers
she is my blessing and my curse
father took me home
to our garden in Orpington
while the carollers sang
in blinding, deafening chorus
and the snow cried for us
but I still spoke to Mum
and before when the dove came to Brixton
to fly alongside new kin,
old blood she bled to save her brood
and left us all with dust
the horses drew her away on picture day
and cast chains across her garden’s gate
since I couldn’t keep her trust
across the water you’ll find us
strewn across London,
patriots of a forgotten nation
remnants, shattered glass hearts
a few stops downstream
but still oceans apart
because they remember
the dove, the chef, three we lost young
on our nine eleven, escaping to heaven they remember Mum
so they tend the garden, pull out the weeds
while I only bleed, clear ink from God’s pen
to smother the roses, again and again
"It's absolutely brilliant to have someone like Kira be a representative voice for all of these remarkable sites across London. I am looking forward to supporting her on her journey"
– Professor Daljit Nagra MBE FRSL
ABOUT POET FOR PLACES
Poet for Places is a year long programme for a young 18-25 year old Londoner to write poetry about Heritage of London Trust sites and work with young people as part of our Proud Places programme. We ran an open competition for all Londoners over summer 2023, with the winner receiving a £10,000 grant well as a year’s mentoring by the country’s ‘Coronation poet’ Daljit Nagra, Dr Emma Filtness and other poets & writers.
We had wonderfully diverse entries and shortlisted ten poets, choosing a winner and three runners up.
The three close runners up were: Smriti Sarma, Tolulope Aboderin and Olive Franklin.
Shortlisted poets were: Bhanavi Kumar, Blessing Odunyemi, Emily Shewell, Natasha Stewart and
Kira’s year as Poet for Places will begin on September 1 2023 and run through to September 1 2024.
For press and to follow Kira's work throughout the year please contact:
Chloe Curry, Communications Manager: email@example.com
Daljit Nagra speaking at Brunel University.
Runner up Tolulope Aboderin celebrating winning runner up.
Poet for Places 2023 is in partnership with Brunel University London and generously supported by the Caledonia Investments Charitable Foundation.
OUR PREVIOUS POET FOR PLACES
In summer 2021 HOLT appointed Arnaud-William Mbaki as our first Poet for Places. Arnaud spent three months working with young people to share his enthusiasm for London’s heritage, creating poems and spoken word about places that inspire him.
Listen to Arnaud speaking above about his own background and thoughts on identity and rootedness, and how writing has helped define who he is.
Hounslow Heath was notorious for highwaymen and their daredevil activities were romanticised in poems and stories.
Image: Cranford Lock Up, in Hounslow