A 26-year-old Nigerian poet and English teacher, Caleb Femi, has been named as London’s first Young People’s Laureate.
Femi was given the prestigious role by a panel of arts bodies and individual judges, including The Roundhouse, the Poetry Society and Jacob Sam-La Rose.
The poet, teacher and photographer has been given the responsibility to raise the awareness of poetry in the capital, nationally and internationally.
Spread the Word’s young laureate initiative funded by the Foundation for Future London, follows the young poet laureate for London scheme, a position held in the past by Warsan Shire, the Somali-British poet who hit the headlines for her role in Beyonce’s visual album ‘Lemonade’ and also Aisling Fahey and Selina Nwulu
The laureate will also support the development of aspiring poets and youths, through development initiatives such as Poetry Lab and raising issues that affect them in his prose.
The Nigerian teacher arrived in London at the age of seven and grew up on the North Peckham Estate, where Damilola Taylor lived before his murder in 2000 at the age of 10.
Femi, who started writing what he refers to as “grime” at the age of 16, has advice for aspiring poets.
“It’s important to read as much diverse poetry collections as possible – Indian, Caribbean and African. That will provide ideas as to where developing poets can fit in and how they can introduce something new.”