Youth poetry tour examines Dystopia and Utopia in Croydon

The Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi brings his first tour to inspire 13 to 25-year-olds to pursue poetry and establish their own collectives at Croydon Central Library tomorrow.

Croydon’s lead poet: Laila Sumpton

From 2pm, there will be workshops sessions on the theme Dystopia/Utopia: Hopes and fears for our future for young people.

Accompanying Femi will be the tour’s lead poet for Croydon, Laila Sumpton.

The project’s young co-producers will run a collaborative group poetry session with the chance for young people to help write a group poem.

There will be a performance from 6pm to 7.30pm with Femi and Sumpton, where workshop participants will have the chance to perform their group poem while young people can sign up to perform alongside Femi and Sumpton as part of an open mic spot. The event will be British Sign Language interpreted and is free to attend.

“The tour is about allowing young people to exercise their creativity and to do what they want to do,” Femi said.

“Whether it’s poetry-based or not, it’s for them to know: your life is in your hands. Where do you want to go with it? This is the time for you to stop allowing people to make decisions for you.

Caleb Femi is bringing his youth poetry tour to Croydon Central Library this Friday

“Tell people where you want to go and how you want to go there. It’s our role as facilitators, as organisations, as libraries and as people, to make that happen for them.”

And Sumpton said: “There is a big appetite for poetry among young people in Croydon, as I discovered when I worked with the Poetry Takeaway to cook up rapid poems for crowds of young people at Orchard Park School and Samuel Taylor Coleridge Youth Centre.

“Poetry is such an important outlet for young people. People will always listen and if they can then share what they have written and feel proud of their own story, then there is no stopping them.”

The tour concludes on Saturday with another session, also free, at Mitcham Library, ending four months of activities in collaboration with other outer London libraries and young people as part of a two-year programme, led by Spread the Word in partnership with the Association of London Chief Librarians, to engage young people in the arts.

Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word, which is responsible for the Young People’s Laureate for London programme, said: “The 2017 Tour places young people, poetry and libraries centre-stage. It’s been amazing to see how young people have responded to the chance to get the tools and skills to run their own events and poetry collectives, and to develop their poetry through meeting and learning from the talented poets and artists taking part in the tour.

“A key theme to emerge through the programme is young people’s passion to address the issues affecting them through poetry, and becoming active in their local communities. We can’t wait to see what the young people will produce and create.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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