Plymouth City Laureate


Applications are open for the position of Plymouth City Laureate – a great opportunity for poets in Plymouth.

Plymouth has a rich history of literary connections and following Michael Sullivan’s successful term as the city’s first Poet Laureate we are now seeking the next talented poet to take up this prestigious role.

Plymouth City Laureate is a two-year role offered by Plymouth City Council with the support of Plymouth Culture and Literature Works.

If you are passionate about poetry and Plymouth, and want to work to reflect the culture of the city and create new community conversations, this is the ideal role to support and develop your writing career.

The Plymouth City Laureate is an honorary post. The locally based Laureate will be commissioned to write and present bespoke poetry, enthuse and inform residents through workshops, and contribute to important civic events and festivals.

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans, said: “I’m delighted that the role of Plymouth’s City Laureate has become a part of our city’s culture. We have had a fantastic start to our Laureateship with Michael Sullivan, and I’m looking forward to our new Laureate’s contribution to our community conversations. This scheme is about getting the city excited about its culture and giving it a voice.”

Tracey Guiry, Chief Executive of Literature Works, said: “It’s fantastic that Plymouth City Council continues to support the Laureateship. Poetry is an incredibly powerful medium, which asks its readers to question the deeper meanings of what is said or written. The role of the Laureate can represent voices which sometimes don’t get heard and that is always a very healthy thing for any culture to do.”

It is expected that the Poet Laureate will:

  • take poetry to a variety of audiences across the city
  • celebrate Plymouth’s history, culture and people through poetry, and hold an important ceremonial role
  • make links with community and creative groups in Plymouth
  • develop their own skills and creative practice as well as those of other local writers.

If you are passionate about poetry and Plymouth and are excited about poetry’s potential to inspire others this is a fantastic opportunity to develop your writing career.

The role will include as a minimum:

  • a minimum of 5 commissioned poems during the year
  • performance at specific events during the year by invitation of Plymouth City Council
  • an event in the city to celebrate National Poetry Day in October in partnership with Literature Works, Plymouth Culture and PCC

Detailed Outcomes and targets will be agreed in consultation with the successful poet and the project Steering Group. Expenses for travel and events will be paid and it is possible that funded activity can be developed during the term.

Michael Sullivan performing at the Barbican’s 4th July celebrations during his role as Plymouth City Laureate. Photograph by David Saunders.


  • Applicants must live in Plymouth, or have a close affiliation with the city, and be able to commit to time in the city to fulfil the advocacy and development roles.
  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over.

To apply for the post:

You will need to be an excellent poet.  You do not need to have had a collection of your own poetry published, but your work must have appeared in anthologies or magazines or online poetry sites, or won an open competition.  You should have a minimum of two years experience of writing and sharing poetry. You will also need to demonstrate an aptitude for working and performing in a wide variety of community settings.

Essential Person Specification

In order to be considered for the Laureate poets should have:

  • a minimum of two years’ experience in writing and sharing poetry.
  • the ability to read and talk about your work to groups of varying ages, sizes and backgrounds.
  • fluent English is an essential skill/ability for the role.

As this is a freelance post, you will need to be able to support yourself administratively. Applicants must be eligible to legally live and work in the United Kingdom and provide documentary evidence of such in accordance with the UK Border Agency rules.

Form of application:

Submit three poems on any topic, which you have created in the last two years. These may have been previously published. In addition, please submit a poem on the subject of ‘My City’. All poems must be entirely your own work. Please write/type your name, address and title of poem on the reverse side of each poem.

Provide a full curriculum vitae, including details of:

  • two referees
  • any publications featuring your work
  • any competitions or awards you have won
  • any workshops, residencies or performances you have given, particularly in community settings

Provide a covering letter detailing:

  • why you would like the role of Poet Laureate for Plymouth
  • what skills and experience you would bring to the Laureateship
  • how you would use the position to raise the profile of poetry in the city
  • how the Laureateship would contribute to your professional development as a poet

Public Speaking Event

The role of Plymouth Poet Laureate will involve public performances and speaking as a representative of the city, so as part of the selection process we have included a public performance event where shortlisted applicants will be asked to speak and perform their poetry in front of the panel. More details about the event will be confirmed soon. The panel will include representation from Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Culture, Literature Works, the Plymouth Herald, Plymouth City Young Laureate and a local writer.

How to submit your application (poems, covering letter and CV):

Please email your poems, CV and covering letter to:

Or you can post or bring your documents in a sealed envelope addressed to: Plymouth Culture, Roland Levinsky Building, Plymouth University, Plymouth, PL4 8AA (open between 10am and 4pm).

The deadline for applications is: 12 noon, Friday 10th June 2016.

Any queries?

If you have any queries about the role please contact:

Other information:

The Poet Laureate is encouraged to use the role to develop their own practice and other work in addition to the above will be possible through individual agencies and organisations making contact with the writer, in the first instance through the Steering Group, and making independent arrangements for activity. This may include schools, libraries, festivals, or Plymouth based cultural project and we would expect the lead organisation, Plymouth City Council, to be made aware of these activities before they are undertaken as Laureate.

The successful poet may undertake any additional paid employment provided the Steering Group is informed in advance and the task does not run counter to the aims of the Poet Laureate role.