Young People’s Laureate
for London Tour

The Young People’s Laureate for London Tour 2017-18 is a partnership project between Spread the Word and the Association of London Chief Librarians (ALCL). It is a two-year programme taking place in 10 outer London library services engaging young people with poetry to address the issues that affect them.

Over the course of the tour we aim to develop young people’s skills and talent, as well as broadening the reach of local libraries of hubs for young people’s creativity and development.

Across the to years the project will work in Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Merton, Newham, Brent, Bromley, Hounslow, Redbridge and Sutton.

The Tour is led by Momtaza Mehri, the current Young People’s Laureate for London with Spread the Word and a host of fantastic and engaging poets/ artists/ producers.

The Young People’s Laureate Tour 2017 visited the London boroughs of Bexley, Croydon, Newham, Merton.

After initial focus group meetings in each borough, led by the 2016-18 Young People’s Laureate Caleb Femi, a team of local young people assembled to begin to plan their programme of activity. They each designed a day of workshops, performances and open mic sessions to be delivered in their libraries.

A visit from the Poetry Takeaway van helped promote each event, and then during half-term in October 2017 the co-production groups each staged their events for local young people.

The 2018 Tour will visit Barking, Brent, Bromley, Hounslow, Redbridge and Sutton. To keep updated, sign up to our mailing list.




The tour is about invigorating, reinvigorating, young people and saying: “Look. You have your life. Where do you want to go with it? Tell people where you want to go and how you want to go there.” It’s our role as facilitators, as organisations, as libraries, as people, to make that happen.

Caleb Femi, Young People's Laureate for London 2016-18

Poets, Artists and Producers Involved

Momtaza Mehri

Young People's Laureate for London

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Momtaza is a poet, essayist and editor with a background in biochemical science. Her work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Vogue magazine, The Poetry Review, BBC Radio 4, Real Life Mag and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. She is a Complete Works Fellow and has been shortlisted for the Brunel African Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize. She won the 2017 Out-Spoken Page Poetry Prize and was third in the 2017 National Poetry Competition. Her chapbook sugah.lump.prayer was published as part of the New Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, in 2017. Her poems also feature in Ten: Poets of the New Generation, published by Bloodaxe Books in 2017.

Caleb Femi

Young People's Laureate for London 2016-2018

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Caleb Femi was Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London 2016-2018

He is also an English teacher, filmmaker and photographer.

Caleb is featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. His commissions include the Tate Mordern, The Royal Society for Literature, St Paul’s Cathedral 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. Caleb has also won the Roundhouse Poetry Slam and Genesis Poetry Slam and is currently working on a debut pamphlet.

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, Road culture and masculinity.

Raymond Antrobus

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Lead Poet - Newham

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Raymond Antrobus is a British Jamaican poet, performer, editor and poetry educator born and bred in East London, Hackney. He is one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word Education from Goldsmiths University. In 2017 he became one of the first recipients of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. He is also a Complete Works 3 Fellow. His poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry Magazine (US) among others. His latest publication is ‘To Sweeten Bitter’ (Out-Spoken Press, 2017)

Laurie Bolger

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Lead Poet - Barking & Dagenham

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Laurie Bolger is a poet and presenter who style is consistently down to earth and accessible. Laurie currently presents BANG Said the Gun, London’s leading stand up poetry night and has hosted for BBC Radio 1Xtra as well as her own multi-award winning radio show ‘Round @ Laurie’s’ live from the Roundhouse London. Laurie’s debut collection ‘Box Rooms’ was released last year with Burning Eye Books, showing that poetry can be your friend.


Dan Simpson

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Lead Poet - Bexley

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Dan Simpson is a poet, performer, and producer. He makes highly engaging and contemporary work that is popular, smart, and funny. His subjects include science and technology; history and place; geek culture and videogames; people and poetry.  

Dan has performed around the UK including at Glastonbury Festival, Roundhouse Camden, and at the BBC Fringe Slam. He has created four solo stand-up poetry shows for Edinburgh Fringe, and is one half of producing partnership Varjack & Simpson. He also hosts and co-produces comedy vs. poetry gig Stand Up & Slam.  He has performed (poetry) at both a hen party and a death metal gig, and is unharmed. 

 A former Canterbury Laureate, Dan’s first collection of poetry is ‘Applied Mathematics’, published by Burning Eye Books. He has had work commissioned by Southbank Centre, Free Word Centre, and Corinium Museum, and he’s a regular chef at The Poetry Takeaway. He has been Poet-in-Residence at Waterloo Station for TfL, at Knole House for the National Trust, and Canterbury Roman Museum for the University of Kent.  

“charmingly geeky” 

– The Scotsman 

“His poems were tight and well thought out… clever and creative, consummately performed”  

– Sabotage Reviews 

Laila Sumpton

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Lead Poet - Croydon

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Laila Sumpton is a London based poet and facilitator- who works with a wide range of learners and performs her work across the country. She is an Associate Writer at Spread the Word and co-directs refugee and migrant poetry collective Bards Without Borders. She runs poetry projects in hospitals, schools, museums, libraries, parks and charities, and has been commissioned by the National Trust, British Library and Tower of London.  

Paula Varjack

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Lead Poet - Merton

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Paula Varjack is a writer, filmmaker and performance maker. Her work explores identity, the unsaid, and making the invisible visible. Trained in stage management, filmmaking and performance, she enjoys working across and combining disciplines; performance, theatre, documentary and spoken word. She has performed at numerous arts festivals and cultural spaces including: Glastonbury Festival, Berlin International Literature Festival, Vault Festival, Chelsea Theatre, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Richmix, Wilton’s Music Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, The Southbank Centre, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Musicbox Lisbon, Es Balluard Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Photographer’s Gallery. 

She is the creator of the Anti-Slam a satirical take on Poetry Slams where the lowest score wins. In addition to performing and producing events, she facilitates workshops with a wide range of age groups, using writing prompts and drama games to unblock creativity. 

Shaniqua Benjamin

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Facilitator - Merton

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Shaniqua is a youth leader and writer from Croydon.  She has used her passion for young people and making a difference to found a youth platform, Young People Insight, which empowers the voices of young people and encourages community engagement.   

Over the past few years, she’s lent her writing skills to The Croydon Citizen, Croydon Guardian, Live Mag, Limelight, Just Croydon and Huffington Post.  She has also had the opportunity to participate in an international youth project, The Complete Freedom of Truth, where she held the role of a blogger. 

MC Zani

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Artist

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From starting out on pirate radio in the late 90’s, MC Zani is now an institution in the beatboxing realm. Travelling the globe to perform and support top acts like Lupe Fiasco and Justin Timberlake and also tours extensively with Jay Sean. He was Lead Tutor with Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy and was the is the 2008 UK Beatbox Champion. Former member of Shlomo & The Vocal Orchestra at Southbank he is now current World Champion Beatboxer as part for acclaimed human beatbox act The Beatbox Collective pushing the boundaries of the human vocals.

Dan Tsu

Young People's Laureate for London Tour Artist

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Dan Tsu is an event producer and educator. A passionate facilitator, cultural speaker and entrepreneur, Dan regularly develops youth education programmes for the likes of British Council, The Roundhouse and Cardboard Citizens.

Dan is also the founder and director of Lyrix Organix. Renowned for boundary-pushing events that explore the nexus of live music, poetry and hip hop, to promote youth and charitable causes. His current portfolio includes Glastonbury Festival (The Rum Shack), UK Beatbox Championships, Brighton Festival, Woodland Trust and The British Council (Sudan, Ethiopia, Moscow). He has also produced major events and tours for the Mayor of London (GLA), London 2012, The Roundhouse and Kings Place. With a reputation for championing and collaborating with young talent, he has worked closely with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Akala and Kate Tempest.

Jack Flash

Young People's Laureate Tour for London Artist

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Jack Flash is a poetic rapper, songwriter and storyteller originally from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and now based in London.
For the last 12 years he has been performing, creating and educating all around the world from features on BBC TV and radio to delivering talks with TEDx. From performing in basement clubs in New York and festivals around the UK and Europe he has built up an international fan base and a reputation as an astute lyricist, a captivating storyteller and an improvisation freestyle specialist. He’s’s even won a world championship for it.
The only thing Jack loves more than words and music is using them to inspire people.
Since 2009, he has been delivering rap and spoken word workshops everywhere from primary schools to prisons and communities centres to corporate offices. He specialises in using rap and spoken word to deliver educational, entertaining and inspirational workshops around the world.
His work focuses on creative writing and expression as a positive experience and one that can inspire, motivate and empower people.

Funded by:

Project Partners:




Library Services Taking Part / Tour Venues 2017:






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