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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities

Former student becomes Southampton’s first children’s poet laureate

Published: 28 June 2013

English and Creative Writing graduate Matt West has been appointed as the first children’s poet laureate for the city of Southampton. He will visit schools and colleges, aiming to enthuse children about poetry.

The former Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Derek Burke, backed by Daily Echo editor Ian Murray, chose Matt for the honour after considering the work of other local poets . His winning poem, published in the Echo, started each line with a letter that vertically spelled out ‘Spoken Word’.

“It is both an honour and a privilege to represent Southampton as the city's Poet Laureate and to have the opportunity to empower others to share their thoughts, stories, and feelings through the vehicle of poetry and Spoken Word,” he says. “I look forward to engaging with our future generations of poets and am very thankful for being offered this chance to share a life-long passion that not only has capacity to celebrate voices from Southampton but also to enrich lives.”

Matt is also founding director of ArtfulScribe, an organisation that stimulates the growth of poetry and provides developmental opportunities for emerging poets and writers.

Throughout his time at the University of Southampton, he focused on poetry where possible, ranging from Shakespeare to postmodern American poetry. “There’s little doubt this has influenced my creative output, but perhaps more importantly, it has given me knowledge and confidence to share with others. Leading poetry workshops focuses on empowering new voices and encouraging emerging talent and little beats the satisfaction of seeing people grow into fuller versions of themselves. One might say university had this effect on me, and I now just pass the baton,” he says.

Photography by Clair Anderson

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