Image showing Bristol City Poets Miles and Vanessa with Mayor Marvin Rees

Image: Jon Craig

Poets in Bristol are invited to apply to become the new City Poet. The winner will be required to compose 12 poems for specific events or projects and will also take part in public performances and community engagement activities over the next two years. The application deadline is 12 noon Friday 29 May 2020.

Traditionally – and in line with the national Poet Laureate objectives – the City Poet taps into public opinion and acts as a communicator of local views. They can become the conscience of the public and can also reflect on what makes the city tick. What they convey through their poetry and creative writing can provide important insights onto contemporary events and feelings, not all of which may make for comfortable reading.

Some of the events that previous City Poets have performed at include the Mayor’s Annual State of the City Address, the council’s Annual General Meeting, city twinning celebrations, and the launch of a city-wide programme marking 100 years of the council estate, as well as appearing in a videos for Bristol Energy and Broadmead Business Improvement District. Future poems may include a poem to mark the beginning of for the period of office as City Poet, the opening of new buildings, community events, commemorative anniversaries and more.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “At a time when we need to share our common experience, commemorate what we’ve been through and look together at the challenge of rebuilding, the post of City Poet is a huge opportunity for someone to represent Bristol and tell our story. Miles Chambers and Vanessa Kisuule have set a high benchmark to follow. Their words have enhanced important events in the city and I’m thankful to them for sharing their distinctive voices. I’m looking forward to being involved in the process of appointing a new City Poet and would encourage anyone who wants to show how they can capture the spirit of our city to apply.”

Andrew Kelly, Director of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Bristol Festival of Ideas said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Bristol City Poet for another two years. Poets help us celebrate and challenge what we do and also what the city does. Poetry has always been strong in Bristol – we’re the birthplace of the Romantic poetry movement after all – and remains a critical part of the cultural life of the city. Miles and Vanessa have done a great job as the first two City Poets. They’ve created a strong presence in the city and have written and performed many poems that have helped illuminate city life and work. It’s an excellent foundation for the next City Poet to build on.”

The role of the City Poet runs for two years and is managed by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas in association with the Mayor’s Office. The City Poet is given an annual fee of £5,000 for the 12 core poems. There may be opportunities to do more and these will be discussed with the person appointed when appropriate. In addition,  the City Poet title can be used when working  for other organisations.

Applicants should be experienced poets living in Bristol who have published work in print and/or online. In addition to filling in the application form they should submit two poems, either new works or ones already published, of up to 65 lines each, one of which should have Bristol as its subject matter. They should also submit a personal statement of no more than 300 words setting out what they feel they would bring to the role. The application deadline is 12 noon Friday 29 May 2020. The decision will be made in June 2020 with a handover from the present City Poet, Vanessa Kisuule, at a public event in October 2020. Please email applications to Naomi Miller, 

The judging panel for the City Poet role will include Mayor Marvin Rees and members of his office and representatives from Bristol Cultural Development Partnership.

Application Form/

Vanessa Kisuule
Bristol City Poet application form / 12 KB

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