Casey Bailey has been named as the new Birmingham Poet Laureate during a National Poetry Day celebration which took place online, and which also marked the start of this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival.
Casey, a secondary school teacher and performance poet, becomes Poet Laureate for 2020-22, succeeding poet Richard O’Brien.
Fatma Mohiuddin, 14, from Birmingham was also announced as the 15th Young Poet Laureate during the event. Fatma, a Year 9 pupil at King Edward VI High School, succeeds Aliya Begum, and will hold this title for two years.
During their tenure, both Poets Laureate will produce new poems and work to promote poetry across the city, as part of the scheme run by the Library of Birmingham. They will be in post, representing the city, during the 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, as well as during the Coventry 2021 City of Culture events.
As the city’s 22nd Poet Laureate, Casey will act as a poetry ambassador and help raise the profile of poetry across Birmingham. He will be asked to write poetry for special occasions, lead poetry workshops, inspiring others to try their own hand at reading and writing poetry and will mentor the newly-appointed Young Poet Laureate.
Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and Chair of the Selection Panel, said:
“Selecting the new Birmingham Poet Laureate and Birmingham Young Poet Laureate for 2020-2022 is always difficult because there are so many good poets in the city, and because these are strange and challenging times.
“We think the two poets we have selected will not only be excellent ambassadors for the city but will help bring us all closer through the power of poetry. It is going to be an exciting two years.”
New Young Poet Laureate Fatma says:
“Poetry is a huge part of my life and the ability to convert my thoughts and feelings into words is extremely important to me. I love to explore a wide range of topics and challenge traditional stereotypes. I hope to inspire many young people to start writing poetry and help them gain the belief to share their own work.”
The announcement was made on National Poetry Day, Thursday 1 October 2020, as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival, which is running online events, workshops, podcasts and daily poetry throughout October 2020.
If you would like to book the Birmingham Poet Laureate or Young Poet Laureate for an event, please email info[at]writingwestmidlands.org.
About the poets:
Casey Bailey is a writer, performer and educator, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham, UK.
Casey released his debut full collection of poetry, Adjusted in 2018 with Verve Poetry Press and his second collection Please Do Not Touch will be published by Burning Eye in 2021. Casey’s play GrimeBoy has been commissioned by the Birmingham Rep. Casey’s poetry has featured in a number of anthologies and he was commissioned by the BBC to write The Ballad of The Peaky Blinders in 2019. He has performed his poetry nationally, and internationally.
Casey’s contribution as a writer, as an educator and dedicated member of his community have been recognised by the Birmingham Mail’s ‘Birmingham Live’, leading to him being named as one of Birmingham’s ’30 under 30’ of 2018. Casey was also recognised in 2019 when he was made a Fellow of the University of Worcester.
Iffat Fatma Mohiuddin is 14 years old and a year 9 student at King Edward VI High School for girls. Fatma (as she is known) has been writing from a very young age: she started off with prose but soon discovered she was more inclined towards poetry.
Fatma has been writing more seriously over the last couple of years, with a special interest in Spoken Word Poetry. Fatma has taken part in performances and workshops in spoken word poetry through her school and has gained confidence and experience on stage.
When she’s not writing, Fatma can be found playing netball, baking and reading.