Momtaza Mehri has been selected as the young people’s laureate for London. She is the second laureate who will become the voice and advocate for the youth in London after Caleb Femi.
The 24-year old with a background in biochemistry has been tasked to not only raise the visibility of poetry of London internationally and regionally but to also engage the youth to use poetry to address issues affecting them as well as help develop their talent.
“It’s an unexpected and thrilling feeling being the Young People’s Laureate for London. I want to use this role to amplify the voices of young Londoners and showcase their creative potential. I know they will inspire me as much as I hope to inspire them. I am excited by the possibilities we can imagine together, through and with poetry,” Mehri said.
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According to the chair of Trustees of Spread the Word (which runs the laureate project), Rishi Dastidar, Mehri was selected because her “poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
She has been featured in a variety of publications and has been shortlisted for the Brunel African Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize. In 2017, she won the Out-Spoken Page Poetry Prize and was the second runners-up for National Poetry Competition.
Her chapbook, sugah. lump. prayer, was in 2017 published as part of the New Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani.
Here’s Mehri reading her poems: