Write Across London

We are delighted to announce a new poetry initiative to celebrate and encourage writing from across the capital in response to coronavirus.

In April 2020, the Museum of London put out an open call for submissions of both objects and first-hand experiences to reflect Londoners’ lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Collecting Covid project received a remarkable number of poems.

Inspired by this, and announced on National Poetry Day 2020, the RSL is delighted to be working in partnership with the Museum of London to celebrate the power of poetry to bring people together, even in times of significant isolation. The RSL will commission pairs of Poet Ambassadors – London-based poets from the RSL’s Fellowship with other poets from London’s communities – to write new work together and inspire other Londoners to write poems. Write Across London coincides with the announcement of the next Young People’s Laureate for London coordinated by Spread the Word who are contributing partners.

Watch the Poet Ambassadors writing collaboratively here.

The RSL is now taking submissions of poems by Londoners. Please send your poems using the online form. These will be collected together on an interactive digital map of London launched in spring 2021 and drawing to a close on National Poetry Day 2021. Please click the submit button to the taken to the entry form.



This programme is specifically to encourage the creativity of those who have been worst affected or most compromised by the pandemic across London – people of colour, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, older people, people with disabilities and those with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Write Across London Poet Ambassadors:

Raymond Antrobus is the author of To Sweeten Bitter and The Perseverance. In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre. He is the recipient of Fellowships from Cave Canem, The Complete Works 3 and Jerwood Compton.

Natalie Linh Bolderston is a Vietnamese-Chinese-British poet. She was a runner-up in the 2019 BBC Proms Poetry Competition, came third in the 2019 National Poetry Competition, and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2020.

Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown is a Black British-Jamaican writer and performer based in Croydon. His debut solo show ‘Likkle Rum with Grandma’ is a journey of mortality, migration and identity. Jeremiah’s commissions include Nationwide Building Society, St Paul’s Cathedral, Barbican and The Poetry Society.

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014. She has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library. Her six collections include Over the Moon and the latest, Luck is the Hook.

Inua Ellams  is an award-winning poet, playwright and founder of the Midnight Run born in Nigeria. His books are published by Flipped Eye, Akashic, Nine Arches and Oberon.

Jamie Hale is a cross-disciplinary creative – a curator, poet, writer, playwright, live artist, actor, and director. They are also an expert in disability, and health and social care policy.

Mimi Khalvati was born in Tehran and has lived most of her life in London. She has published nine collections, including The Meanest Flower, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 2007. She is the founder of The Poetry School and her new collection, Afterwardness, is a book of the year in The Sunday Times and The Guardian.

Cecilia Knapp is a poet, playwright and novelist and the current Young People’s Laureate for London. She has shared her writing extensively in the UK and internationally including residencies and performances in Johannesburg and Paris. She’s a former resident artist at The Roundhouse and a Ted X speaker.

Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet. She won the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She was the 2019/2020 Young People’s Laureate for London. Her debut poetry collection In Search of Equilibrium was published by Nine Arches Press.

Dajlit Nagra is the inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, he presents the weekly Poetry Extra, and teaches at Brunel University London. His four poetry collections have won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Collection, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award.

We are grateful to the London Community Response Fund and City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity Bridge House Estates, for supporting this programme. 

Please read the press release for full information.