Double honors for Theresa Lola: London’s Poet Laureate for Young People
British-Nigerian poet, event planner, and facilitator, Theresa Lola, aged 24, has been appointed as the Young People’s Laureate for London. This announcement was made in City Hall, London. The laureateship is yearlong, and “Theresa will champion young people’s mental health and wellbeing through poetry at a time of great political uncertainty.”
The position of the Young People’s Laureate is one among other schemes of London-based writer development agency, Spread the Word, an organization committed to the careers of writers, both emerging and established.
The mission of the laureate as stated is to: “Raise the visibility of poetry in the capital, nationally and internationally; Engage and inspire London’s young people with poetry through the issues that affect them; Support the development of London’s talented young poets in a tangible way.” And Theresa will be working with young people between the ages of 13-25 in this capacity.
Speaking about her new position, Theresa says: “I am delighted to be Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London. Having moved to London at the age of 13, poetry was the language that helped me translate this beautiful city and form the lasting friendships I have today.”
Adding that, “I hope to use this role to encourage young people to creatively engage in conversations about our wellbeing and mental health, to celebrate what self-care means to us and the things that give us hope as young Londoners. We will explore how to use poetry to communicate the impact that experiences such as school, social media and the workplace have on our mental health. In times of crisis, poetry is a healthy outlet that young people can use to voice their feelings.”
“Poetry is the nuanced language we need to articulate the complexities of what we go through as young people, and in expressing our feelings over pressing issues, I also want us to celebrate our joys.”
Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word, said: “At a time of political uncertainty, where young people’s lives, concerns and aspirations are often ignored and dismissed, it is vital that their voices are heard by those in power. This is why Theresa Lola is a fantastic choice for Young People’s Laureate. Her poetry is bold, surprising and full of dazzling and unexpected images. Theresa is unafraid to explore difficult subjects and with her talent and commitment to opening up conversations with young people, she brings to the role a real sense of purpose.
Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justin Simons, said: “…having seen the power of Theresa’s poetry, I know her emotive work will both inspire and unite.”
Past Young people’s Laureate include: Caleb Femi (2016-18), Momtaza Mehri (2018-19).
The second honor is that, on the first day of March this year, Theresa Lola, launched her debut collection of poems titled, In Search of Equilibrium. It was a hall full of happiness and support for the poet. With readings, rapturous applauses, questions and answers, signings, it was a near-house party—a house of poets, performers, professors, creatives, friends and family in support of the brilliant poet and performer, Theresa Lola.
She is the joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a 2017 Hammer and Tongue National Slam winner, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Bridport Poetry Prize. Theresa has led poetry workshops in secondary schools and universities, and is the founder of FourHubs, a lifestyle magazine for literature and art.