Former teacher from Peckham becomes first London laureate

News Desk (19 October, 2016) Education Culture

“Poetry allows for a conversation with not just yourself but with other young people, too.”

12650London laureate Caleb Femi, photo by Lee Townsend

A Peckham man has been named as London’s first Young Person’s Laureate, and will be spearheading a year-long campaign to raise the profile of poetry among youngsters, writes Kirsty Purnell.

Caleb Femi, a former secondary school teacher, was selected for the role by a prestigious panel, including The Roundhouse and the Poetry Society.

The 26-year-old will be leading a range of development initiatives, including Poetry Lab writing workshops and collaborating with established youth platforms to find ways to engage youngsters in the form.

“It felt great to be appointed into the role,” Caleb told the News. “It’s a bit daunting because it’s so huge but it’s so exciting, too.”

The Laureate scheme, led by writer development agency Spread the Word, aims to give London’s young people a voice through poetry.

“When you’re young, everything is complicated,” said Caleb. “You’re trying to find your way with lots of new things – politics, sexuality, for example.”

“Poetry allows for a conversation with not just yourself but with other young people, too.”

During his tenure, Caleb will challenge traditional notions of poetry as being a difficult to understand written form. “I want to help young people see poetry outside the academic,” he said. “In schools, it’s always written down. But it can also be spoken and listened to, too.”

Caleb believes that poetry can reach people of any background. “I’ll be working to make poetry accessible to all demographics,” he said.

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