Pooja Nansi reflects on
the Young Laureate Exchange


Over the last few weeks, Spread the Word has been incredibly fortunate to host Singaporean Youth Poetry Ambassador, Pooja Nansi, in the UK as part of a young Laureate exchange.

Pooja has been making connections with UK writers, delivering workshops and performing. As she prepares to return to Singapore, Pooja reflects on her time in the UK.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to work with both Caleb Femi and Spread the Word on a Young Laureate exchange between London and Singapore. Ruth and Tom from Spread the Word made me feel welcome even before my plane even touched down in London, and Caleb and I had already spent a weekend plotting and planning when he was in Singapore for the Writer’s Festival. I was looking forward to learning more from his incredible work.

Caleb and I led a professional development workshop called ‘Engaging Young People with Poetry’ at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre. It was aimed at helping writers who wanted to develop their skills in working with young people in different settings. We had a full table of participants whose backgrounds ranged from working in therapy for trauma to educators working with children who had learning disabilities. As the evening progressed and the conversation continued, it became evident that I was learning as much from these remarkable people as they might have thought they were learning from Caleb and myself.

Our work continued the next day at the Menier Gallery where we were facilitating workshops for young people in relation to issues of anxiety and mental health. The workshop was structured around an art exhibition curated by the London Brain Project a fantastic non-profit organisation which aims to engage the public with brain sciences and mental health through the arts. It was an honour to encounter so many interesting and intelligent young people and the stories that emerged from their writing.

After a productive morning and afternoon spent in workshops with bright young minds, it was time to head to the Royal Academy where Caleb was reading alongside two other poets, Bridget Minamore and James Massiah. I couldn’t have thought of a better ending to the time I had spent working with Spread the Word than an evening spent having a drink and listening to some brilliant poems.

I’m hoping to return to the UK later this year, and soak up even more of the great poetry scene here.”

Pooja’s collection Love is an Empty Barstool, is published by Math Paper Press. You can find our more about Pooja at poojanansi.com.

The young Laureate exchange was supported by the British Council in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, UK as part of the International Literature Showcase.