The Library of Birmingham has named the city’s Poets Laureate for 2014-15. Adrian Blackledge, Professor of Bilingualism at the University of Birmingham’s School of Education, was announced as the new Poet Laureate at a special event on 2 October at the Library of Birmingham to mark National Poetry Day.
The Poet Laureate is an honorary position awarded annually to raise the profile of poetry across the city, and to inspire experienced and new poets to engage in writing and reading poetry.
Adrian was selected from more than 40 entries to this year’s awards competition, which invited poets across Birmingham to submit poems to a selection panel. As Poet Laureate Adrian will perform his poetry at a range of events and also take commissions to write poems, for example to celebrate or commemorate special events and occasions.
Brian Gambles, Director of the Library of Birmingham said, ‘Birmingham was the first city to have its own Poet Laureate outside of the national role and our award goes from strength to strength. This coveted role is for poets who are experienced and passionate about poetry. Our Poets Laureate do a wonderful job, encouraging others to discover the pleasure that poems can bring and acting as ambassadors not only for poetry, but also for libraries and for Birmingham. Adrian was chosen from among a very high standard of entries this year, and impressed the judges with the quality of both his writing and performance of his work.’
Adrian Blackledge is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and has won prizes in the National Poetry Competition, The Blackwell Poetry Competition, Café Writers Poetry Competition, and The Poetry Business Competition. His poems have been published in a wide range of journals, including The Spectator, London Magazine, Encounter, Orbis, and The Reader. A volume of his poems, Green Eyes, is published by Pikestaff Press.
Adrian said ‘I am honoured to be appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate 2014/15. Taking up this position offers a wonderful opportunity to enhance the status of poetry in Birmingham, and to create opportunities for people to read, write, and share poetry. I have lived in Birmingham almost all of my life, and I am delighted to be able to contribute to the development of Birmingham’s reputation as a city of poetry.’
Adrian will link his public role as Birmingham Poet Laureate with his research at the University of Birmingham. He is currently investigating language in use in the multilingual city, through the 4-year AHRC-funded project, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities. He is the organizer of a workshop and reading by award-winning poet Simon Armitage, Translating Voice, to be held at the Library of Birmingham on 16 November. Adrian Blackledge said ‘Poetry is one of the many ways in which people express themselves in the multilingual city. One of my aims in my year as Birmingham Poet Laureate is to make visible the diversity of expression in our city’.