Nigerian Caleb Femi named London’s first Young People’s Laureate


The world is full of fine, young Nigerians, and in these trying times, it does us good to remember that. We have fine minds in just about every field you can think of: from science to technology to the arts and back to artisans. Caleb Femi has one such mind. A 26-year-old so prolific with words that he has been named the Young People’s Laureate for London 2016-2017.

©2016 Caleb Oluwafemi | Young People’s Laureate for London 2016-2017

Selected by a nomination process with the help of a panel that includes some of the biggest names in Arts and Literature, the talent level on the laureate shortlist this year was high.

It would seem, however, that the Caleb Femi’s appointment is well-deserved. Joelle Taylor, a fellow poet, stated “I have rarely been more moved, inspired and energised by the writings and passion of an artist. I’m very excited for London and its young people with Caleb Femi as their Laureate.”

Her statement is echoed by fellow panellist Pascale Petit, “Your poetry made an immediate impression on me, with its vivacity and powerful images. Your work shines, as do all the other gifts you bring to the role – young people will love and be inspired by you!”

About Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi is a poet and film-maker from Peckham, South London. He’s a former secondary school teacher who first got into poetry through grime. He is now known for his poetry, photography and documentary films.

Perhaps our favourite piece of work from the artist is Children of the ‘Narm, a visual poem inspired by his own experience of growing up in Peckham during the 90s.

Speaking about his new role, Femi said:

“I feel honoured and excited to be the First Young People’s Laureate for London. I want to maintain that awareness that anything is achievable. I also want to normalise poetry across all demographies.

“Because of where I have lived and taught, a school in Tottenham, I became familiar with a high percentage of the pupils who were young black boys and girls. The result is that I’m aware of the platforms and issues that are relevant to them. I want to translate these issues into poetry, which I believe will make them more understandable.”

During his year-long residency, the laureate will work to develop and encourage writing skills in young people. Alongside Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, he will be expected to develop a range of poetry opportunities to achieve his objectives. Among the projects Femi will lead include The Young People’s Poetry Prize and The Young People’s PoetryLab – a development project which will involve working alongside poetry mentors and practitioners.

We couldn’t be more proud of a young man making strides with the Spoken Word!

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