Belfast Telegraph

Caleb Femi – Young People’s Laureate For London – pens poem about Heathrow

Femi spent time in Heathrow to get inspiration for his latest work.

Spoken word artist Caleb Femi has called for a more “diverse” approach to teaching poetry.

The Young People’s Laureate For London has penned a poem about Heathrow, called A Tale Of Modern Britain, which will be shown on terminal screens at the airport.

The poem explores what it means to be British through the lens of arrivals and departures.

Femi, 27, said that he had “met so many people who enjoyed poetry at school and I’m one of those people” and that he did not “want to speak generally”.

He added: “But, I know that there are a huge percentage of young people and also teachers who think that we need to rethink the approach we take to teaching poetry…

“We need to diversify the poets we study in school. Most of the time they are very limited in their variety.

“There are a huge variety of poets from different backgrounds, different sexual orientations. We need to have a more diverse pool of poetry that talks about all the different human experiences.

“In terms of examining boards, it’s not diverse but there are many… teachers who try to include a more diverse selection of poets. It’s slowly changing, but it still has a very long way to go.”

Femi spent time in Heathrow to get inspiration for his latest work.

He said: “I wanted to get that sense of what a British society actually looks like… The fact that there are so many different cultures and people and how it can work harmoniously.

“Most people in Heathrow airport look content… I don’t mean content as you would be in a spa, but as content as you can be in an airport.”

And he added: “The first impression you get of a country is always the airport.”

He said that there were now “more opportunities” for young people “to cultivate your own voice” with poetry, thanks partly to social media.

“A decade, ago, it was quite limiting in terms of the gatekeepers you were required to go through to become an established poet, while now it is possible to cut out the middle man”, he said.

Femi said of his role, as Young People’s Laureate For London, coming to an end in April: “What I wanted to do was to try to normalise poetry amongst young people of all backgrounds, especially amongst working class, young people.

“You need 10 years to achieve that, but in the short time I’ve been Young People’s Laureate I’ve been able to make many strides towards that goal.”

A Tale Of Modern Britain by Caleb Femi can be seen at www.heathrow.com.

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