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 with a focus on areas of low engagement in the arts by young people. The boroughs are Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Merton and Newham in 2017 and Brent, Bromley, Hounslow, Redbridge and Sutton in 2018.

Featuring Caleb Femi, the current Young People’s Laureate for London with Spread the Word and a host of fantastic and engaging poets/ artists/ producers, the tour aims to:

– Engage and inspire London’s young people (aged 13-25) with poetry through the issues that affect them;

– Develop young people’s talent and skills through providing inclusive high quality artistic opportunities;

– Raise the profile and broaden the reach of libraries as hubs for young people’s creativity and artistic development;

– Build young peoples’ capacities to co-develop with libraries their own creative activities and engage with London’s wider cultural offer

Watch Caleb Femi’s poem ‘The Story We All Know’, written especially for the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour, here:

Poets, Artists and Producers Involved

Caleb Femi

Young People's Laureate for London

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Caleb Femi is Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London.

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.


“I am really looking forward to seeing the creativity and talent that shines forth from the young people during the tour. I hope that through our workshops, events and partnership with local libraries, we are able to encourage young people to see poetry as a viable way of expressing themselves and engaging with the social and even political conversations of our day.”

Caleb Femi, Young People's Laureate for London

Get involved

‘The Story We All Know’ by Caleb Femi
Launches the Young People’s Laureate
for London Tour

Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi has written a poem, The Story We All Know, to mark National Poetry Day on..

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For Young People aged 13 – 25:
6 Ways you can get involved in the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour

The Young People’s Laureate for London Tour 2017 takes place in libraries in Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Merton and..

  • Opportunities

Book free tickets for the
Young People’s Laureate for London Tour performances

Free tickets are now available for the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour.  Open to anyone, and each event will..

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“Many young people don’t see how powerful poetry can be, yet it offers them an avenue to express themselves and make their voices heard. I’d encourage any young people in the participating boroughs to take part in the tour as it will get their creative juices flowing and develop useful life skills. They might just end up wanting to be a poet themselves.”

Shaniqua Benjamin, Founder of Young People Insight

Funded by:

Project Partners:



Library Services Taking Part / Tour Venues 2017:




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