Caleb Femi was today (3rd October) announced as London’s first ‘Young People’s Laureate’ at an event at Penguin Random House headquarters.
Femi, a 26-year-old teacher and poet from Peckham, will work with Spread the Word, which is administering the role, on poetry events for young people in the capital, including a prize and a literary salon.
He said: “I feel honoured and excited to be the first Young People’s Laureate for London. I know what a huge role it is and I am ready to give it my all. I hope to re-engage young people, who have long been disenfranchised, through poetry.
“Poetry is the one of the purest forms of conversation there is. At its best, it allows us to communicate from an honest and safe place. And young people deserve to be included in such spaces.”
Femi was chosen as the laureate by a panel consisting of representatives from arts bodies, including The Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Forward Arts Foundation and the Poetry Society, as well as the poets Jacob Sam-La Rose, Joelle Taylor, Pascale Petit and Nick Makoha.
The new scheme is an extension of Young Poet Laureate for London scheme, a position currently held by Selina Nwulu.
Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word, hopes Femi will help young people in London engage with the arts.
“London is one of most exciting cities in the world for arts and culture, yet engagement among young people with what is on 'offer' remains low, partly due to economic barriers and access," she said. "This is why London deserves a dynamic Young People's Laureate, who will have a positive impact on our young people's lives,” she said. “Caleb’s work is exciting, authentic, sophisticated and accessible. Most of all, he has a genuine desire to help young people discover their own voice in poetry.”