Peterborough Poet Laureate 2019

Keely Milla (left) awarding Charley Genever (right) her title in 2015.

Calling all poets! Syntax is delighted to run this year’s Peterborough Poet Laureate competition to find the next brilliant poet who will fulfil the most unique role our city has to offer. Could it be you? Read the information below and access the application form at the bottom of the page. Deadline for applications is midnight on Sunday 13th October. The final will take place at 7pm on Friday 1st November 2019 at The John Clare Theatre, Central Library, Broadway, Peterborough. The event is free and open to the public. The final will also be BSL interpreted. Booking essential, click here to book.

About the competition

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. Previous laureates include Mark Grist, Keely Mills, Charley Genever, and Pete Cox, whom all have gone on to become professional working poets. The title will be handed over by our current poet Laureate, Clare Currie.

Throughout the year the Poet Laureate will work with Syntax Poetry Festival committee and the Poet Laureate Manager to make poetry part of the life of the city, chronicling special events, and celebrating the poetry community. This year, we are delighted that through the support of Arts Council England, we are able to offer the successful Laureate a bursary to support the poet’s development through a bespoke programme of mentoring and training. In addition, the Laureate may be commissioned to write poems by any number of partners and across the cultural sector. The title ‘Peterborough Poet Laureate’ is recognition of your talent and gives a unique role in the community and no two laureate’s reigns are the same.

The final is being generously supported by Vivacity Culture and Leisure Trust, and the final will be held at The John Clare Theatre. The final is also being generously supported by Apples and Snakes, and the event will be hosted by the incredible Kat Francois.

Who we’re looking for

Peterborough’s poetry scene is thriving. Syntax has an ambitious programme to celebrate and raise the profile of Peterborough poetry and spoken word. We are looking for someone who is willing to get involved in continuing to cultivate a brilliant poetry community. Previous laureates have set up new nights, secured funding for the arts, worked in schools, performed at non-poetry events, and supported the growth of new poets. We want someone who will wear the role on their sleeve, not lock it away in a trophy case.

Syntax is actively 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+ and writing poetry or spoken word already, in any style or genre, and living in Peterborough.


This year’s theme is – ‘Dawn’. As with any theme chosen for the Laureate competition, this theme can be interpreted very broadly, such as entrances, beginnings, renewal, gateways, a passage of time, skies, cities, and more. Your poem may explore the theme in any way; the only criteria is that your poem must be under 40 lines in length.

If you have any problems with uploading your application please email

Good luck!

The application portal is now open! Click here to apply to become Peterborough Poet Laureate 2019

Clare Currie (centre) receiving her title in 2017 with runners up Ron Graves and Julia Gaze.
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