Selina Nwulu from Lambeth has been revealed as the next Young Poet Laureate for London. Still reeling from the announcement, Selina told Londonist about her plans to tackle social issues, map the shifting shape of the city and inspire young Londoners to pick up a pen and do the same.
The role will see Selina working across the capital but she's most excited about working with those communities who are undergoing gentrification. "I'm interested in hearing the voices of those areas of London that have changed massively," she says, "Hackney, Peckham, Brixton, even Lambeth where I live."
Recently poets Tim Wells and Janine Booth performed at Trafalgar Square in support of the No Privatisation at The National Gallery campaign and Nwulu similarly sees poetry as a tool for change when it moves beyond the textbook. The young poet is "looking forward to working with people on a grassroots level."
An intensive course with Voices that Shake: Young Voices in Arts, Media, Race & Power kickstarted the realisation that Selina could use her writing to talk about social issues, but her poetic career had humble beginnings. She laughs “I can’t quite believe this has happened, I’ve always kind of wrote for myself and I actually think that’s a really important strong place to start for a writer, you’re a bit more self aware."
Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word said she was "absolutely delighted" that Selina is the next Young Poet Laureate for London, explaining: "She brings to the role a unique and powerful poetic talent alongside a commitment to making poetry accessible.
"We cannot wait to see how she takes the Laureateship forward, helping to place poetry centre-stage and vital to the life and voice of Londoners."
So when it comes to the mammoth task at hand, how will Selina inspire more young people to dabble in verse? "It’s about connecting them with issues that they care about and asking them to express themselves creatively but not in a way that’s prescriptive."
Selina's advice for aspiring poets is to make the most of London's writing support network. "Find an area that you want to explore then use London and all that it is to develop," she says, "make use of Spread the Word a writing development agency, Apples and Snakes, the Free Word Centre. And for those with the poetry bug? "There are open mic sessions every night of the week."