Search is on to find next Peterborough Poet Laureate as new city festival is launched

The 2018 poet laureate finalists
The 2018 poet laureate finalists
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Applications have opened to find the next Peterborough Poet Laureate.

As part of a new Peterborough poetry festival called Syntax, which will run throughout November, the competition will run alongside the festival to crown one lucky poet on Friday, November 1.

The competition, held annually since 1998, is to find a local poet to hold the honorary title for one year. The role is unlike any other and offers an opportunity to be an ambassador for the city’s poetry community.

Toby Wood was the first to be awarded the title, and other previous laureates include Mark Grist, Keely Mills, Charley Genever and Pete Cox. The title will be handed over by current poet Laureate, Clare Currie.

The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over living in Peterborough.

Syntax is committed to supporting the development of people who are underrepresented in the arts, whether that be their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, cultural beliefs, income, disability or life experience.

The only criteria for selection is to be aged 18 or over and writing poetry or spoken word already, in any style or genre, and living in Peterborough. Budding writers are asked to submit a poem on the theme of ‘dawn’.

Applicants are also asked to consider what they would like to do in their year as laureate and how they plan to continue to be an ambassador for the city’s thriving poetry and spoken word scene.

Syntax, a newly formed poetry festival led by a committee of poets, has taken over management of the role from Peterborough Poets United. The Syntax committee has been awarded funding from Arts Council England to support the new laureate with training and development opportunities. This will include mentoring and opportunities for the laureate to put on events in the city.

Charley Genever, Peterborough Poet Laureate 2016 and vice chair of the Syntax committee, said: “The opportunities that came from my time being poet laureate were a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to make my dream come true of having a career as a poet without the boost in confidence and support that the title gave me.

“The great thing about the competition is that it truly is open. The only criteria is to be aged 18+ and from Peterborough. No previous experience or skillset is necessary. The only other thing we’re looking for is someone who feels like they would be able to champion the brilliant poetry scene we have here in Peterborough. We want someone who will wear the role on their sleeve, not lock it away in a trophy case.”

The final will take place at 7pm on Friday, November 1 at The John Clare Theatre, Central Library, Broadway, Peterborough.

The event is free and open to the public. It will also be hosted by famous poet and performer Kat Francois.

Syntax is further supported by Vivacity and Apples and Snakes to make the competition possible.

The deadline for the competition is midnight on Sunday, October 13. To apply, visit the Syntax website syntaxpoetryfestival.wordpress.com, or email syntaxpoetryfestival@gmail.com for more information.