Skip to main content

We’re looking for the new Bristol City Poet

Bristol City Poet
Bristol City Poet panel event

Written by Bristol Ideas

Share this

Poets and spoken word performers in Bristol are invited to apply to become the new City Poet. The winner will be required to compose ten poems for specific events or projects and will also take part in public performances and community engagement activities over the next two years. The application deadline is 17:00 on Monday 6 June 2022.

Bristol’s City Poet taps into public opinion and acts as a communicator of local views. They can become the conscience of the public and can also reflect on what makes the city tick. What they convey through their poetry and creative writing can provide important insights into contemporary events and feelings, not all of which may make for comfortable reading.

The City Poet performs each year at the Mayor’s Annual State of the City Address. Previous City Poets have held poetry sessions in libraries; co-created poems about cinema-going with school children; appeared in and created poetry films and had their words etched into new building projects. Future poems may include a poem to mark the beginning of the period of office as City Poet, the opening of new buildings, community events, commemorative anniversaries and more.  

Caleb Parkin, Bristol City Poet 2020-2022 said: ‘Being Bristol City Poet is a delicious challenge for someone who’s fully engaged in poetry’s place in civic life: how it can reflect and refract events in the life of the city and all its people. If you’re a poet who wants to write poems as gifts for this gorgeous, complicated city, you should apply. I’m so excited to see who’s next and the unique creative blend they’ll bring to the role.’

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: ‘Our City Poets have captured the spirit and soul of Bristol. Their unique voices have given a powerful insight into life in our city. Miles Chambers, Vanessa Kisuule and Caleb Parkin have set an incredible standard and so the post of City Poet is a huge challenge, as well as an exciting opportunity. As we continue to work to tell the fullness of our city’s story, I’m looking forward to collaborating with Bristol Ideas to find a new City Poet for the next two years.’

Naomi Miller, Acting Director of Bristol Ideas said: ‘Poets uncover the words, sounds and rhythms from deep within us, whether individuals, communities or a city. With Miles, Vanessa and Caleb, we are forging a creative and lasting legacy for the city. They’ve helped us to celebrate our achievements, reflect on our pasts and imagine our futures. We’re really excited to find and support the next City Poet.’

Danny Pandolfi, Co-Director of Lyra Festival and part of the shortlisting and interview panel said: ‘The Bristol City Poet post is ideal for someone who has a passion and desire to use poetry as a tool to connect people. We’re looking for a dynamic, inventive and impactful writer who also has the personable skills, approachability to bring more people in Bristol into direct connection with poetry. This unique public-facing role isn’t just about writing great poetry, but most importantly about community outreach and giving people access points into poetry through everyday life, and inspiring more people to read, write and perform poetry. It’s about amplifying the voices of others and communicating the views of an inspiring, progressive and culturally diverse city through your own work, and capturing the feelings and ideas of the people who make Bristol so brilliant.’

The role of the City Poet runs for two years and is managed by Bristol Ideas in association with the Mayor’s Office. The City Poet is given an annual fee of £5,000 for the ten core poems. There may be opportunities to do more and these will be discussed with the person appointed when appropriate. In addition the City Poet title can be used when working for other organisations.

Applicants will be a poet of any age or point in their career. They might specialise in spoken word, page poetry, co-devised work – or any aspect of poetry in practice. They will be interested in, and excited by, the city and the stories that it has to tell. They will have experience of writing poetry to commissions and be a confident performer. To apply they need to submit two poems, either new works or ones already published, of up to 65 lines each, one of which should have Bristol as its subject matter. They should also answer three short questions, in writing, voice-memo or video. A full brief including how to submit applications can be downloaded below.

The application deadline is 17:00 on Monday 6 June 2022. The decision will be made in July 2022 with a handover from the present City Poet, Caleb Parkin, at a public event in October 2022. 

Read about the current and previous Bristol City Poets and their work here.

Are you the next Bristol City Poet?

Download the Bristol City Poet brief and information on how to apply below.

Image: Current City Poet Caleb Parkin, Bristol Ideas board member Madhu Krishnan and former City Poet Vanessa Kisuule at the 2020 handover event. (Photo credit: Evan Dawson)

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update