Poetry Society Member Theresa Lola is the new Young People’s Laureate for London and will champion young people’s mental health and wellbeing through poetry.
At the ceremony in City Hall, Theresa said: “I hope to use this role to encourage young people to creatively engage in conversations about our wellbeing and mental health, to celebrate what self-care means to us and the things that give us hope as young Londoners. We will explore how to use poetry to communicate the impact that experiences such as school, social media and the workplace have on our mental health. In times of crisis, poetry is a healthy outlet that young people can use to voice their feelings.
Poetry is the nuanced language we need to articulate the complexities of what we go through as young people, and in expressing our feelings over pressing issues, I also want us to celebrate our joys.”
Theresa was joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, representing Nigeria. Her debut poetry collection In Search of Equilibrium (Nine Arches Press, Feb 2019) is described as ‘a glorious hymn to being alive and wounded.’ She was also shortlisted for the 2016 Bridport Poetry Prize, 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize and was one of the winners of the 2016 Magic Oxygen Poetry Prize. She is also a Barbican Young Poet Alumni.
Theresa was selected by a nomination panel, including arts organisations such as The Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Barbican, National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre and The Poetry Society.
Momtaza Mehri, the outgoing Young People’s Laureate for London, added: “I’m thrilled that Theresa Lola has been selected as the new laureate. Her experience as a programmer and commitment to poetry that travels across borders will be invaluable in this role. It will be a joy to watch her make this role her own. As the outgoing Young People’s Laureate, it has been as exhilarating to stumble across youth collectives established on my doorstep as it has been to collaborate with international filmmakers as part of my residences. The role has expanded my definition of what a working poet can do.”
During her year-long laureateship, Lola will work with young people across London, including collaborating with them on a specially commissioned poem for the capital with plans to launch a city-wide regional campaign, which will be announced in the summer.
18 April 2019