Birmingham Poet Laureate

Birmingham’s 18th Poet Laureate is Joanna Skelt

Joanna Skelt from Sparkhill was announced as the new Birmingham Poet Laureate at a ceremony at The Library of Birmingham, succeeding Stephen Morrison-Burke.

Jo Skelt, the city’s 18th Poet Laureate and the first for the new library, will act as a poetry ambassador and help raise the profile of poetry across Birmingham. She will be asked to write poetry for special occasions, lead poetry workshops, inspiring others to try their own hand at reading and writing poetry and will mentor the newly-appointed Young Poet Laureate.

The judging panel commented:

A passionate and thoughtful poet with a fascination for, and love of, place, Jo’s writing blends the personal with the social yet remains strongly rooted in everyday experience.

Discover more about Joanna here.

Last Year Stephen Morrison-Burke was the Birmingham Poet Laureate. He has been performing poetry for 3 years. On National Poetry Day in 2012 he was named as Birmingham Poet Laureate - the youngest person to ever be awarded the title.


Stephen has won multiple poetry slam competitions, supported two separate internationally renowned poets and is also the current Cambridge Poetry Slam Champion.


As part of his laureateship Stephen attends many poetry events throughout the Midlands, performing at various locations throughout the city.  He is also busy teaching workshops anywhere from primary schools, to libraries and Youth Offenders Institutions. He is continually researching other poets and their respective projects and is an avid reader and writer.

Pugilist to Poet

Before poetry Stephen had been actively boxing for 10 years and in 2008 reached the Semi-Finals of the National Boxing Championships. Given his affiliation with such a virile sport his transition to the world of poetry was an extremely daunting process due to the contrast between the two pastimes.

However, just 4 months into publically sharing his poems he was asked to perform at a major festival in front of hundreds of people.

The overwhelming response I received from the audience provided me with all the confirmation I required to be assured that poetry is the right path for me. That entire festival experience, coupled with my Poet Laureate achievement are without doubt my career highlights to date

Stephen's latest project was working on ‘If Walls Could Speak’, a collaborative theatre production that he was very excited to be a part of. The event was a collage of tales woven together using live grafitti, vocal looping, spoken word, rhythm and rhyme, to create a unique theatre experience.

You can find out more about Stephen and his work on his website and catch up with his daily musings via his twitter account @MorrisonBurke




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