Nancy Campbell announced as the new Canal Laureate

Nancy Campbell, the new Canal Laureate
Nancy Campbell, the new Canal Laureate (photo credit: Paul Preece)

The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust are delighted to announce the appointment of Britain’s new Canal Laureate: Nancy Campbell.

Oxford-based poet and kayaker Nancy has a keen interest in arctic, marine and water conservation, following on from her winter residency at the most northern museum in the world in Greenland in 2010 and subsequent museum residencies in both Greenland and Iceland over the last seven years.

During 2018 she will “seek out and share stories” from the people and places she will encounter during her travels along the 2,000 miles of the nation’s historic canals and waterways looked after by the Canal & River Trust.

Nancy begins her role as Canal Laureate this month, taking over from poet Luke Kennard (2016-17) and poet Jo Bell, who became the inaugural Canal Laureate (2013-15).

Interested in helping make her poetry accessible to a mainstream audience, Nancy is keen to realise her poems through other mediums such as printmaking and film. Her initial events and collaborations will include: creating a short work about rain to be displayed by the waterways; writing a poem about an unassuming and endangered type of herring – the Twaite Shad, and a collaboration with Nottingham’s ‘Light Night’ event.

Established in 2013 by The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust, the Canal Laureateship aims to encourage exciting new writing about the Britain’s historic canal network. Previous Laureateships have seen poems stencilled onto canalside walls, carved into newly made lock-beams, and translated into short films; with forgotten classics given new life in performances, publication and animations.

Canal poetry has been celebrated at venues including the Hay Festival, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Birmingham Literature Festival, National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port, London’s Southbank Centre and Crick Boat Show, Welshpool Poetry Festival, Market Bosworth Festival, Leeds Liverpool Biennial, and was showcased in a dedicated canal edition of BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please.

The project is part of the Arts on the Waterways programme, a partnership between the Canal & River Trust, Arts Council England and Arts Council of Wales to help attract even more visitors to the waterways while surprising and delighting existing communities through innovative art projects.

You can listen to Nancy speak about her role as Canal Laureate on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme here (54:18 into the programme)

Read more about the Canal Laureate project