We had a brilliant evening launching our Poet for Places 2023 programme at Brunel University London – the winner appointed for the next year will be poet, aspiring author and LGBT+ activist Kira Nelson.
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, with the winner receiving a £10,000 grant as 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 runners up were: Smriti Sarma, Tolulope Aboderin and Olive Franklin.
Shortlisted poets were: Bhanavi Kumar, Blessing Odunyemi, Emily Shewell, Natasha Stewart and Thymian Gadd.
Prof Tom Betteridge, Dean of College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences and HOLT’s Director Dr Nicola Stacey introduced the evening, Dr Emma Filtness welcomed the shortlisted poets and Prof Daljit Nagra announced the winner!
Daljit and Emma also read some of their brand new poems to the audience.
Our previous Poet for Places Arnaud Mbaki rounded off the evening by performing his piece 'Shelter' about HOLT’s recent restoration of the Cabmen's Shelter in Chelsea.
Kira’s year as Poet for Places will begin on September 1 2023 and run through to September 1 2024.
"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…. This will 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!"
Keep an eye out for more from Kira this autumn.
Thanks to the Caledonia Investments Charitable Foundation for their fantastic support for the project.