class="post-6825 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Young People’s Laureate for London
Poetry Award

Spread the Word is pleased to open a brand new Award that will discover and profile talented young poets in the capital.

Judged by the Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi, the Awards will celebrate talented young poets aged 13 – 25 living in London. We’re asking poets to create written or performed poems on the theme of ‘Tomorrow’.

Caleb Femi introduces the award and talks about why he chose the theme of ‘tomorrow’ in this short video:

The Lowdown 

Here’s the important stuff:


Top Tips

Award Judge and Young People’s Laureate for London shares his top tips for your entries on:

Caleb’s Top Tips for Page Poetry Entries

Caleb’s Top Tips for Performance Poetry Entries

Enter now 

Enter Online
Online entry for 13 – 17 year olds

Online entry for 18 – 25 year olds 

Enter by Post
Download a postal entry form for 13 – 17 year olds

Download a postal entry form for 18 – 25 year olds

About the Award Judge, Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi is the Young People’s Laureate for London. He is also an English teacher, filmmaker and photographer. As a poet, Caleb’s commissions include the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature and the Guardian. Caleb has graced major stages such as the Roundhouse mainstage, Barbican, British Library, Royal Festival Hall. He has also opened up for Lianne La Havas and has performed at many festivals including Latitude, Ed Fringe, Boomtown, Lovebox and Greenbelt to name a few. Caleb has also won the Roundhouse Poetry Slam and Genesis Poetry Slam and is currently working on a debut pamphlet. Caleb leads poetry workshops in schools around the UK. As a filmmaker, Caleb has released two documentaries ‘What Did Love Taste Like In The 70s?’ and ‘Heartbreak & Grime’, to good international reception, which has led him to give talks and panel discussions on the topic of Grime music, Roadman culture and masculinity.

Don’t live in London? 

The Young People’s Laureate for London Poetry Award is only open to London-based young poets. This is because Caleb Femi’s Laureate role is about supporting young people’s poetry in London to thrive.

Maybe you’re a young poet and don’t live in London. Take a look at:

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here?

Email us on or call us 020 8692 0231 ext 249. We’re around Monday – Fridays 10am – 5pm.

class="post-6870 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news category-news-opportunities"Life Writing Prize Longlist

Here it is, folks, the inaugural Life Writing Prize longlist…

Our final twelve showcase a remarkable range of subject matter, from growing up in a mining community during the strikes, to coming out, to experiencing grief and mourning, to growing up in a children’s home, to a teenage love of Thin Lizzy and all of them are excellent. Huge congratulations to all writers on the longlist – for now, they’ll remain anonymous as the judging process is still happening.

About the process

This is the first time we’ve run the Prize.  We were pretty overwhelmed with the number of submissions (almost 700) as we had no idea how many to expect. We’re really, truly grateful to everyone who entered and spent time crafting their personal stories to enter. It’s not easy sending personal writing out into the world, we know. Deciding which pieces go through to the longlist has been very difficult. If you aren’t on our lists, don’t despair. There were many fine pieces that almost made it. But thank you to those of you who submitted. As the Prize is for emerging life writers, we will be working hard to showcase the huge talent on the long and shortlists.

The Longlist

1. The Missing Sixth
2. Attack of the White Van Woman
3. 9 Days – Modes of Distraction
4. 1955 – 2012
5. Singing to Seals
6. Scab
7. Mudlarking
8. The Knob Head Question
9. Nomad
10. Battyman
11. The Year Dot
12. Thin Lizzy

What happens next

Our Judges Blake Morrison, Dr Katy Massey and Margaret Stead have the unenviable task of deciding from the longlist which piece of Life Writing will win, which two will be highly commended, and which three will be shortlisted.

The results will be announced at a special event at Goldsmiths University on the evening of Thursday 18 May, and we’ll announce the news online at the same time too. We’ll publish the winning and highly commended pieces on our website and we’ll also give some special mentions to some great pieces that almost made it. After that, we will be finessing things ready to open the Prize for its second year later in the year.

class="post-6703 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-network-knowledge"International Women’s Day 2017

Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is ‘Be Bold For Change‘ – a call for action to give women across the world better opportunities, to accelerate gender parity and to push for the advancement of women. To mark today, the team here at Spread the Word share the women writers that inspire us and why:


“I am inspired by Toni Morrison – Beloved –  for the powerful, unforgettable and heart wrenching exploration of family and trauma and giving voice to the impact of the slave trade; Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze Riddym Ravings – for the warmth, humour and vitality of her poems alongside the dub and experimentation; Lauren BeukesAnn LeckieUrsula Le GuinMargaret Atwood – for the ideas and for taking me somewhere else!

The books that have inspired me are The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy for its originality and vision; Middlemarch by George Eliot because there are few things better than immersing yourself in 19th Century provincial life; and Coagulations: New and Selected Poems by Jayne Cortez for her hard-hitting, outspoken and honest poetry – the one true Firespitter.”


“I am inspired by Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon is complex, biblical, relevant and alarming. I was astounded to read a book about black experiences so layered and compelling.

I am inspired by Malorie Blackman. A lesson in resilience, humour and compelling storytelling. Without her, I would still believe that all characters in UK young adult books must be white.

I am inspired by debbie tucker green, the playwright. Stories of pain and anger shaped by lyrical dialogue.

I am inspired by Catherine Johnson who through historical fiction reinserts the stories of people of colour that have been made invisible and erased.”


“I am inspired by the women writers I have listed below – they are the ones whose work burned itself on my mind as I read them – and they don’t compromise in their scalpel investigation of gender, cultural identity and power and where fiction can go:

A Room of One’s Own – was the first work I read by Virginia Woolf, a hot day on a rattling train to London when I was 19. The combination of the profusion and lyricism of her language the fiereceness of her argument.

Jumpha LahiriThe Interpreter of Maladies – astute and something glasslike (in a good way) about her prose; the more I read her the more I find.

Jeanette Winterson – acute, passionate and direct. I read her her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal during a personally very difficult time, it was like a hand held out in the dark.

Alice Munro – because she writes lucid and fascinatingly structured short stories (and memoir) Has never stopped -despite saying she will – and she started out as a writer in the 1950s with all the odds of social class, entrenched sexism and cultural expectation against her, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013.

Andrea Levy – a generous, astute, assiduous chronicler of contemporary Britain and the Caribbean migrations to Britain, especially London.

Charlotte Brontë, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou too of course!”


“I am inspired by many wonderful women writers, including:


“I am inspired by Rachel Long, an immensely talented poet who is also the leader of Octavia and creative facilitator behind ‘Telling Her Story‘ – a series of poetry writing workshops for Women of Colour, giving them an exclusive space to have their voices heard.

I am also inspired by Claudia RankineMalika Booker, Eimear McBride and Roxane Gay for their boldness in their writings.”

class="post-2698 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"Interview with Owen Hopkin at The Space

Owen Hopkin is Head of Audience Development at The Space. Last year, they curated a spoken word season on BBC iPlayer, showcasing some of the UK’s best spoken word artists. It was hugely successful. Spread the Word were immensely excited by this initiative and Aliya sought an interview with Owen to find out more…

Owen, congratulations on such a brilliant season on the spoken word and poetry! I’m interested in the terminology used to market these shows– sometimes it’s ‘poetry’ and sometimes it’s the ‘spoken word’. Are the two terms interchangeable or are there greater socio-political connotations at play?

Most of the iPlayer season featured spoken word artists, but We Belong Here also included page poets (Jack Underwood, for instance), so we were keen to make sure we were referring to everyone’s art in the correct way. The evening on BBC 2 that the iPlayer season followed also showcased a mix of artists – Kate Tempest, Betjemen etc. – so while poetry may have been the umbrella artform, there was a mix of subgenres too.

Following this, it seems that even though the poetry landscape has shifted so much, especially in recent years, there are still very strong traditional ideas of what poetry is and ought to be. How difficult was it to persuade people that your shows deserve such a wide platform? 

It is to BBC Arts and the iPlayer team’s immense credit that they opened the iPlayer up to a season of this kind. The Space’s role in the venture was to source excellent content (and there was plenty of it) from artists and the arts sector to populate it. The giant strides made by people like Kate Tempest, George The Poet, Hollie McNish etc, as well as organisations like the Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Leeds Young Authors etc, have resulted in a thriving, lively scene that’s seen it sit comfortably shoulder-to-shoulder with more traditional ideas of poetry.

Many of the voices represented in your programmes were young people and it really seems as if this particular genre is very enabling for them – it appears to provide a gateway for them to express their opinions and emotions in a way that other genres cannot. What does poetry have within it that allows this to happen?

I’m sure it’s a number of different factors. For spoken word, my best guess would be that it’s a combination of the intimacy of the creative process, both the directness and malleability of words and meaning, and the omnipresence and influence of hip-hop as a performing art (it’s not the same, but it’s a reference point…). Between them all, there’s a very effective and accepted process to mine opinions/emotions, express them, and then perform it.

As well as showcasing the impact of poetry amongst young people, your season also represented a diverse range of voices – featuring poets from different backgrounds. How did you select which poets to feature and how difficult was the selection process itself?

It was very difficult, simply because of the variety and depth of what’s out there. We were limited by the constraints of having a punchy season, but also by curating content that seemed to hang together as a coherent collection. A few approaches fed into finding it all: our contacts within the arts sector, researching the thriving online communities, word-of-mouth-recommendations, some great suggestions by Sabrina Mahfouz, Lucy Wood (Cape Farewell, The Poetry Society) and many more serendipitous routes to the great content that was finally published.

I want to talk for a moment about We Belong Here. This programme, which featured Lemn Sissay, Hollie McNish, Raymond Antrobus, Joelle Taylor, Salena Godden, Sabrina Mahfouz, Jack Underwood and Madi Maxwell-Libby, focused explicitly on the importance of poetry and spoken word during uncertain times. How important are poets and poetry as a tool for expression in the current political climate?

Incredibly important, and not just about the current political climate either. There’s a profound directness to the artform that can stimulate introspection and debate about an endless range of topics, from the personal to the political. Madi Maxwell-Libby’s piece packed such an emotional wallop I almost found it too difficult to watch. Not many artforms can match that sort of immediacy.

Continuing with the focus on We Belong Here, the title of the show itself sends a very strong message. How and why did you decide to name the show as you did and what do you think the impact of this title has – not just on the poets themselves but on your audience?

The title was inspired by Lemn Sissay’s piece ‘Belong’, which was another incredibly powerful performance. We were in two minds about using the title – the last thing we wanted to do was co-opt or cheapen Lemn’s message – but there were many parallel themes that made it work: a raft of young poets that are/becoming authoritative voices within poetry, that spoken word/poetry deserves to stand side-by-side with other artforms, that poetry and spoken word/poetry deserves its place in mainstream media and that the themes of the poetry – and the poets themselves – deserved to be heard by as wide an audience as possible.

The shows were made in support with Battersea Arts Centre, Leeds Young Authors, Roundhouse London and the organisers of the US Poetry Slam contest. Such a great collaboration – can you talk about specific areas of programming within these organisations that you feel are particularly important?

I have an enormous admiration for all of the organisations mentioned above. I love Battersea Arts Centre’s general approach: which is (and this is my impression, not the organisation’s official strap-line!) world class art, in many forms, delivered in an approachable way, not least to the local community it serves. I’m also continually impressed by the Roundhouse’s role in fostering new spoken word talent, and the way that it’s an in-house production colossus – a radio station, video production company, recording studios – all accessible, again, to the local community. The work Leeds Young Authors do is incredible. Everyone should watch the film We Are Poets and be impressed. It’s unbelievable.

Finally, even though poetry has been around for a very long time – it felt rather revolutionary to have these programmes shown on screen and broadcast on national television. What has the response been to this and how has it inspired your future plans for poetry, the Arts and beyond?

The response has been great, and we’ve been thrilled that the poets and organisations featured have also been thrilled by it too. As a relative stranger to the spoken word scene, I was bowled over by the poets featured and thoroughly energised by it all. As an organisation, it’s continued The Space’s enthusiasm for poetry/spoken word and we are currently getting excited by a few new projects that are slated for publication in 2017. Watch this space.

Owen joined The Space from Amazon where he was a Marketing Manager in the Video Games Category. His focus was on implementing robust traffic-driving strategies across all digital channels – search, social media, affiliate marketing, email – as well as working collaboratively with media organisations like Future, IGN and Twitch to grow the category’s customer base. Owen also worked with Facebook, HTC and PlayStation to launch Amazon’s VR hub across its European and North American territories.

As a Content Editor and Managing Editor with Global Radio for seven years, Owen worked on some of the UK’s biggest media brands. He steered editorial strategies to attract and retain an increasingly engaged audience across web, mobile and social media, wining awards from the Radio Academy, the Radio Production Awards and the Royal Philharmonic Society in the process.

class="post-6594 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-news"Free Reads News

Spread the Word is delighted to announce that following a high number of entries, the six writers short-listed for The Literary Consultancy’s ACE-funded Free Reads Scheme 2016-2017 are: Gillian Haigh, J L Hall, Naomi Westerman, Anne Hawk, Martin Weaver and Maevish Shah. These writers will have access to TLC’s core services and will each receive a TLC Manuscript Assessment. Congratulations writers!

This scheme is a brilliant opportunity for talented writers on a low-income and Spread the Word are looking forward to partnering with TLC to support this scheme again later this year. We’ll be releasing more information nearer the time with details on the submission process, deadline dates and how to submit your work. To ensure you receive these notifications, sign up to our free newsletter here or become a member of our London Writers Network.


class="post-6753 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Submissions wanted for
Flight Journal Issue #4

Flight Journal, an online short story fiction magazine created by Spread the Word’s Flight 1000 Associates, is now open for submissions.

The theme for its fourth edition is SPACE(S). The way this theme can be interpreted by the writer is fluid: it could refer to outer space, or the spaces that we inhabit, an area that is free or unoccupied or the spaces in between either our physical or psychological worlds.

The editors are looking for short stories of up to 2,000 words from writers anywhere in the UK. Each writer can submit up to three stories each and the entry fee is £3. This will go towards the production of the journal.

The top five stories will be published in the journal and each writer will receive £50 as well as access to a Spread the Word writing workshop or event in 2017 (subject to availability). The overall winner will also receive one year’s membership to Spread the Word’s London Writers Network as well as a goody bag of free books.

Submit your story now

Submission details can be found here. The deadline for entries is 2 April 2017, 6pm. Good luck!