Simon Armitage Announces Plans for National Poetry Centre in Leeds

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Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate has announced his plans to build a National Poetry Centre in Leeds by 2023 as a gesture to mark his decade-long tenure. The centre is to be built in major collaboration with Leeds City Council and the University of Leeds, where Armitage is currently the Professor of Poetry.

When announcing his ambitious plans, the Yorkshire born poet remarked that poetry needed a home outside of London something “along the lines of the Centre for Fiction in Brooklyn or Poet’s House in New York”. He also explained that “Poetry is one of our most ancient and proudest artistic endeavours, steeped in tradition, history and ritual” and that the genre is “undergoing an incredible renaissance at present particularly in relation to a new generations of writers and performers across diverse backgrounds who have found poetry a way of articulating their concerns and expressing their feelings”. 

“Poetry is one of our most ancient and proudest artistic endeavours, steeped in tradition, history and ritual”

Armitage said that the centre will be a base where poets can “get on with their writing, teach, eat, drink, debate, argue” . The space will also allow poets of all calibres to research, write, exchange ideas, perform readings as well as, hopefully accommodating visiting writers from a wide range of backgrounds. 

He also commented that “In my view the centre needs to be outside London and Leeds is an ideal location: accessible, central, dynamic, contemporary, future-minded, people-oriented, community-aware, committed to cultural regeneration, and building momentum towards 2023.” 

Vice-Chancellor of The University of Leeds Sir Alan Langlands said: “We are very proud of our literary achievements, and a national centre for poetry is a wonderful fit with both our mission to educate and engage, and our aspirations to be a world-leading University with strong local roots and a truly international character and outlook.

As an English Literature student I am very excited to see the university involved in the opening of a dedicated space for creatives in which we can learn and work with other students and poets outside of a university environment to enhance our work and showcase our skills.  

Image: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Image