Armitage reveals plans for National Poetry Centre in Leeds

Armitage reveals plans for National Poetry Centre in Leeds

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has announced plans for a National Poetry Centre in Leeds.

The project would provide a poetry collection with research facilities, rehearsal and performance spaces, a café, and event spaces for literary prizes with accommodation for visiting writers from across the globe.

It will be a collaboration between Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds and the Leeds 2023 Cultural Festival.

Armitage said he hoped the centre would be a lasting legacy to his decade-long tenure as Poet Laureate, promoting education, literature and fostering new talent.

He said: “One very ambitious goal I have set myself over the forthcoming decade of my tenure is to develop a National Poetry Centre, to bring poetry in line with other national art forms that have their own headquarters and venues, such as the National Theatre and the National Gallery.

“In my view the centre needs to be outside London and Leeds is an ideal location: accessible, central, dynamic, contemporary, future-minded, people-oriented, community-aware, committed to cultural regeneration, and building momentum towards 2023.

He added: “Poetry is one of our most ancient and proudest artistic endeavours, steeped in tradition, history and ritual. It's also undergoing an incredible renaissance at present, particularly in relation to new generations of writers and performers across diverse backgrounds who have found in poetry a way of articulating their concerns and expressing their feelings.”

The partnership is now searching for a site and will start building up bids for funding. It is intended to be open in time for 2023, coinciding with a year of arts and culture celebrations in the city.

Ruth Pitt, chair of Leeds 2023, said: “The minute Simon mentioned his vision to us at the start of his tenure we knew it was something we wanted to do. Poetry speaks to everyone and any of us can pick up a pen and write.

“A National Poetry Centre embodies everything we want to achieve, which is to benefit our people, nurture learning, talent and creativity and to establish a visitor destination for poetry and literature fans across the world.”