Young People’s Laureate
For London


The Young People’s Laureate’s mission is to:

• Raise the visibility of poetry in the capital, nationally and internationally;

• Engage and inspire London’s young people with poetry through the issues that affect them;

• Support the development of London’s talented young poets in a tangible way.

Each year an esteemed judging panel selects a poet to become the Young People’s Laureate for London. On National Poetry Day, 1 October 2020, Cecilia Knapp was announced as the new Young People’s Laureate for London.

Caleb Femi was the first Young People’s Laureate 2016-18. Momtaza Mehri was the Young People’s Laureate 2018-19. Theresa Lola was the Young People’s Laureate for London 2019-2020. Previously, Spread the Word ran the Young Poet Laureate scheme, a role which was held by Selina Nwulu, Aisling Fahey and Warsan Shire.

Helping young people have their voices heard at a time of uncertainty and upheaval is Cecilia’s mission. Over the next year, Cecilia will undertake placements on four youth-focused residencies across the capital as well as receiving a range of mentoring and poetry-development opportunities to enhance her own career progression.

The programme is funded by Arts Council England and supported by a wide range of partners.

You can keep up to date with what the Young People’s Laureate for London is doing here, or through social media #YoungPeoplesLaureate

If you’d like to book the Laureate for a residency, event or commission, please email [email protected]

“Sharing stories is the greatest breeder of empathy. They show us how to walk in each other’s shoes and demonstrate the beautiful variety of humans in the world. I want my year as Laureate to be about collecting and celebrating stories from those who’s stories haven’t been told, working with London’s young people who haven’t had a chance to find their voice yet. Their voices are an essential contribution to the life of this City.”

Cecilia Knapp, Young People's Laureate for London 2020-2021

Cecilia's poetry


You Know a Market Where the Tulips are Still Three Quid

Honey Locust, Baby

In our garden

At the poetry workshop before under-fifteen’s football training 

Golden Shovel after The Pixies Where is my Mind?

Young Roots Group poems

Here we’re thrilled to share poems written by young women who took part in a series of online workshops with Cecilia when she was in residence with Young Roots and the Refugee Council. The aim of the workshops was to support the young women to use poetry to help them express themselves and to find ways to share experiences and support each other – especially when isolated during lockdown. They created some astonishing work as a group that we’re thrilled to share with you here. The poems are published here anonymously.

Illustrations by Jess Nash.

The Right

You Are



Our Places

I've Been Thinking About

After Danusha Laméris

Art Assassins

Over the summer of 2021 the Art Assassins of South London Gallery collaborated with Cecilia to produce a new zine of art and poetry. Named in honour of the new tree planted outside the gallery, the zine explores how poetry can help us archive our time and respond to the world around us, on our terms.

This film explores the work of this project, and showcases the fantastic young poets who took part.

Street Soccer X CALM

Cecilia’s third residency was with the football charity Street Soccer and the mental health charity CALM, working with a group of 11-15 year old young footballers to create their own poetry. Most of the poems they wrote are about football, and how it feels to play.

Cecilia says: “The young people worked hard on their poems and it was truly beautiful to see them each create a piece of work they were proud of. There was something so special, bonding and affirming about the whole group agreeing that when they’re playing, nothing else matters, and to see this idea reflected in their poems; their similarities drawn out and concretised through the synergy of the workshop space. It was great to have CALM in the room, who talked to the group about mental health awareness and what to do if you or a friend is suffering.”

The project culminated in a photoshoot of the participants playing football which we are showcasing alongside their poems here. Photos by Harvey Aspell.

Street Soccer x CALM Poems

Group poems

Poems by Mohammed

A poem by Lauren

Poems by Tarek

A poem by Ryan

Two poems by Ilyas

Two poems by Kayden

A poem by Jason

Two poems by Richard

Two poems by Samuel

Two poems by Yousef

Two poems by Younes

A poem by Ayum

A poem by Mo

A poem by Redwan

A poem by Jeremiah

A poem by Musab