Iona Mandal (Birmingham Young Poet Laureate) and Jasmine Gardosi (Birmingham Poet Laureate) pictured on the night of the announcement.
LGBTQ+ poet Jasmine Gardosi was named as the new Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2022-24 – succeeding Casey Bailey – during a National Poetry Day celebration earlier this month, which also marked the start of this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival.
Jasmine, a multiple slam champion and beatboxer, said: “I’m excited to demonstrate through my role as Birmingham Poet Laureate that poetry belongs to everyone. Our voices are as diverse as Birmingham is – in fact, I believe there are as many types of poetry as there are people in this city.
“Whether it’s my beatbox/poetry fusions, performing poetry on a rollercoaster, or merging poems with music, I want to show to the world that poetry takes on many forms. It’s an art of infinite possibilities and it’s accessible to anyone. Everyone has a voice, and everyone’s voice matters. I’m especially excited to connect the poetry and music communities, and as an LGBTQ+ poet, simply be myself on a larger stage.”
Iona Mandal, 16, from Birmingham was also announced as the 16th Young Poet Laureate during the event. Iona, a pupil at King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, succeeds Fatma Mohiuddin, and will hold this title for two years.
Iona says: “Being chosen as the Birmingham Young Poet Laureate (2022-2024) has instilled in me a sense of honour, catalysed my personal odyssey with poetry and renewed my appreciation for the wonders of our city, which is home.”
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 act as a poetry ambassador and help raise the profile of poetry across Birmingham. They will be asked to write poetry for special occasions, lead poetry workshops, inspiring others to try their own hand at reading and writing poetry.
Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and Chair of the Selection Panel, added: “Writing West Midlands is delighted to be working with the new Birmingham Poet Laureate, Jasmine Gardosi, and the new Birmingham Young Poet Laureate, Iona Mandel.
“Both poets are uniquely gifted to speak for many in the city, and more importantly they bring an irrepressible enthusiasm for communicating through poetry. It is going to be a wonderful two years.”