Spoken word artist and poet Vanessa Kisuule has been chosen to follow in the footsteps of Miles Chambers to become the next Bristol City Poet.

Vanessa Kisuule

She was selected following a rigorous judging process which saw over 20 submissions whittled down to three finalists who each performed a poem in front of the panel at the end of January. The panel consisted of Mayor Marvin Rees, Andrew Kelly (Director, Bristol Festival of Ideas), Miles Chambers (current City Poet), Amy O’Beirne (Project Coordinator and Researcher, Bristol Festival of Ideas), Zoe Steadman-Milne (Project Manager, Bristol Festival of Ideas) and Annabel Smith (Policy Assistant to the Mayor).

Vanessa was selected due to her unique artistic voice and experience of working and interacting with local communities in Bristol.

Vanessa will be officially appointed the new Bristol City Poet at a Festival of Ideas event in May, where she will perform the first of 10 poems required to be composed as part of the role. Other public performances will include special events and community engagement activities taking place between May 2018 and May 2020, the term of her appointment.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “Miles has set an incredibly high bar as the first poet to adopt the role, and I’m confident that Vanessa will do a fantastic job of picking up the mantle of capturing the soul of the city. The City Poet is an important part of Bristol’s cultural offer, and I am looking forward to seeing how Vanessa makes the role her own.”

Vanessa Kisuule said: “It’s a huge honour to be representing Bristol as the city poet – I can’t wait to capture all the things that make this city so unique. I believe poetry can start conversations and preserve important stories so I can’t wait to engage a multitude of Bristol residents with poetry through this post.”

Andrew Kelly said: “The high quality of the applications for the post of City Poet showed the strength of poetry in Bristol. We’re delighted that Vanessa has been chosen to take on this role: an accomplished poet already, she is deeply rooted in the city and is dedicated to working with the communities of Bristol.”

There will be a public event to celebrate Miles Chambers’ term and the start of Vanessa’s in May 2018. The event will be free to attend and announced on the Festival of Ideas website in March.

Image credit: Ailsa Fineron


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