Poet laureate outlines plans for National Poetry Centre in Leeds
The poet laureate Simon Armitage has laid out his plans for a National Poetry Centre in Leeds. He intends it to be a public space with an extensive poetry collection, several rehearsal and performances spaces, and a cafe, where literary events can be held. It is supported by Leeds city council, the University of Leeds and Leeds 2023 – a year-long celebration of arts and culture in the city. Armitage, who grew up in the West Yorkshire village of Marsden and is also the professor of poetry at the University of Leeds, told the Guardian that poetry needs a home in the UK, and that he hoped it would be “a place where poets can borrow or buy books, perform readings, showcase their work, get on with their writing, teach, eat, drink, debate, argue, research, host classes, organise conferences, publish magazines, access the internet and run workshops”.
Work is now going on to identify a site and secure funding. Leeds 2023 creative director Kully Thiarai said it was hoped the new centre woujld open in time for the city’s celebrations in three years.Armitage - pictured in his robes as professor of poetry at Leeds - said he believes the centre needs to be outside London. He described Leeds as an ideal location, being “accessible, central, dynamic, contemporary, future-minded, people-oriented, community-aware and committed to cultural regeneration”.
PHOTOGRAPH: UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS