The Plymouth Laureate of Words is a partnership initiative between Literature Works, Plymouth Culture and The Box.
Over the next two years 2021-22, the Laureate of Words will become a representative of the city, working with the community and organisations to explore and tell the city’s stories.
Plymouth playwright, facilitator and publicist Laura Horton is Plymouth’s first ever Laureate of Words, for the two years 2021-22.
In autumn 2020, Literature Works joined forces with Plymouth Culture and The Box to recruit a Laureate of Words for the city, picking up the baton from outgoing Poet Laureate, Thom Boulton. In the spring, Plymouth based children’s writer Simon James will visit Plaistow Hill Infant and Nursery School, where Thom teaches as a thank you for his time as Laureate. The call for the new Laureate of Words was made far and wide to find a wordsmith of any kind to take up this new creative role, representing the city in words. A panel of partners across the city selected three hopefuls to go through to the first ever public vote for the role. Throughout November, Laura Horton campaigned for votes alongside fellow playwright and co-director of Downstage Write, Jon Nash and poet Caitlin Brawn before emerging as the public’s choice for Laureate of Words. A total of over 2,150 votes were cast by members of the public in Plymouth.
Over the two years of her Laureateship, Laura will respond to a series of commissions from partners and organisations across Plymouth. She will run a series of events for the public, including one for young people, as well as representing the city at occasions in the civic calendar.
Laura’s first commission is presented by the Lord Mayor’s Office – ‘Caring and supporting one another: exploring how the community of Plymouth comes together’.
Speaking about her appointment, Laura Horton said,
“I’m thrilled to be offered the position of Plymouth Laureate of Words. To be the first woman feels significant and I know I won’t be the last. I’m excited to explore this role as the first playwright, illuminating the life, culture and stories of this historically rich city.”
Helen Chaloner, Chief Executive of Literature Works said,
“It’s been an exciting democratic process, going to public vote in order to find the first ever Plymouth Laureate of Words. Laura will be a great champion for the city and we hugely look forward to working with her.”
Hannah Harris, Chief Executive of Plymouth Culture said:
“We wanted this opportunity to celebrate the diversity of literary work in the city from poetry to playwriting to the spoken work and this was certainly true of the submissions we received. It is important that the Laureate of Words is connected to and passionate about the city of Plymouth, which Laura certainly is.”
Laura will be appearing at various events, running workshops and activities and blogging about her experience.