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Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Events, Outcome: literacy

[Editor’s note: this guest post was written following Kathy Settle’s attendance at an event at the Library of Birmingham last month, where Nyanda read some of her library and reading related poetry. Kathy was so impressed, she asked Nyanda if she would be willing to share the poems more widely...]

Nyanda Foday is Birmingham’s 11th Young Poet Laureate. The Birmingham Poet Laureate scheme 2016–18 is managed for the Library of Birmingham by Writing West Midlands and the Birmingham Literature Festival. It is supported by Poetry on Loan.

As Young Poet Laureate, I may be asked to do commissions, attend and perform at events and potentially carry out workshops for other young people. I am expected to represent both poetry in young people and young people in poetry.

And here are three of my poems related to reading and libraries:

In reverence

A library is a place of worship,
Where every book is holy scripture.
We congregate,
Kneel before even the lowest shelves,
Search for meaning in the stories it holds
Rewrite our understanding of the world with its words
Make pilgrimage to information desks
We wage war on opening hours in its name,
Teach our children of tradition through this digital generation
Here we learn to share with strangers,
Love our literary neighbours
Find sanctuary in soft seats
Break bread in the café mezzanine
We play piano hymns below ground,
The library is open and accepting of all
We join together under the blue light of travelators and self-service machines,
There has never been a place quite so holy to me.


I have never been offended by the label 'bookworm'
After all, bookworms are the keepers of knowledge.
We hollow out cavernous structures and fill them,
Line concrete soil with book after book
We make our homes between the pages
We are pioneers of technicolour imagination,
We are at the forefront of literary innovation,
A bookworm is exactly what I want to be.

Love poem

Firstly I want to apologise
My poetry has nothing on yours and it will not inspire generations, nor will it move nations
I've never been that kind of poet.
And I've never been a poet in love but something about you moves me
Gives me a sense of peace
And if this isn't love, I don't need love because this is enough
And you've heard all of my words a thousand times before but I know you will always listen to them anyway.
You will always be my heart's home and your doors will always be open
And you will always have new things to teach me
You are my favourite constant.
At any moment I am either with you or on my way to you
Time is too finite to measure how long I could marvel at you
Drink in your wisdom
You are sturdy and safe
I can lose myself in your voice and when I resurface hours later no time will have been wasted.
You are grand and you are cosy
You are wisened and you are naïve
I take the beautiful with the ugly
Because you are whole and you are complete
And when we disagree you can explain yourself to me
We understand each other,
You and I.
And that is why I love you.

[Written in reference to the Library of Birmingham]

At the moment, I can be commissioned or requested by contacting Jonathan Davidson at Writing West Midlands (


Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce

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