Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Story We All Know by Caleb Femi


Young People’s Laureate for London announces new Outer London tour and launches specially commissioned poem for National Poetry Day

Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi will launch a specially commissioned poem and announce his 2017 tour of Outer London Boroughs on #NationalPoetryDay [Thursday 28 September].

The poem - The Story We All Know - was inspired and influenced by conversations held with 13 to 25 year olds in libraries in the Outer London Boroughs of Bexley, Croydon, Newham, Merton and Barking and Dagenham. Filmed in black and white, the moving one minute 30 second poem highlights the challenges facing young people such as isolation, crime, depression and disengagement.

Caleb Femi, Spread the Word Young People’s Laureate for London, said: “The poem - #TheStoryWeAllKnow - was inspired by the diverse young people I met in libraries, and maps out some of the issues they felt were affecting them. It calls for a collaborative effort to be made by institutions, like local libraries, to work with young people to help them change the narrative which misrepresents them.”

In response, Spread the Word, Caleb Femi and established poets will tour with The Poetry Takeaway throughout October in the five boroughs to broaden the reach of the programme to engage up to 1000 young people. The mobile ‘takeaway van’ will park in different locations, including schools, youth clubs, town squares and local libraries. Young people will be encouraged to participate in poetry activities and fresh new writing.

They will also have the opportunity to take part in co-creation sessions at participating libraries as well as poetry workshops with the Young People’s Laureate for London and poets Raymond Antrobus, Laurie Bolger, Dan Simpson, Laila Sumpton and Paula Varjak. Workshops on beatboxing with UK Champion Grace Savage and tips on how to set up their own poetry events or collectives with Danny Tsu and Shaniqua Benjamin are also planned. Open mic spots will be hosted by each library, giving young people the chance to perform their poems alongside Caleb Femi. 

Calem added: “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.”

The Young People’s Laureate for London Tour will run from 24th to 28th October 2017.

The role aims to:
  • Raise the visibility of poetry in the capital nationally and internationally;
  • Engage and inspire London’s young people with poetry (aged 13-25) through the issues that affect them;
  • Support the development of London’s talented young poets (18-25 year olds) in a tangible way.

The Young People’s Laureate for London Tour 2017-2018 is a partnership project between Spread the Word and the Association of London Chief Librarians. A two year programme, it will take place in 10 Outer London library services with a focus on areas of low engagement in the arts by young people. Participating libraries are: Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Merton and Newham in 2017, and Brent, Bromley, Hounslow, Redbridge and Sutton in 2018.

The Young People’s Laureate Tour is supported through funding from Arts Council England.

Young People’s Laureate for London Tour 2017 dates:

Tuesday 24 Oct - Bexley Central Library
Wednesday 25 Oct - Beckton Globe Library
Thursday 26 Oct - Barking Learning Centre
Friday 27 Oct - Croydon Central Library
Saturday 28 Oct - Mitcham Library

Official hashtag: #changethestory

Follow Caleb Femi on Twitter: @CalebFemi5
Follow Spread the Word on Twitter: @STWevents
Follow WordsOfColour on Twitter: @WordsOfColour
Follow Society of Chief Librarians on Twitter: @UKSCL

If you would like to interview Caleb Femi, or any of the participating poets and performers involved in the tour, contact Joy Francis E: T: 0771 382 7372.

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