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A poem for Canterbury

Credit post and video: The Marlowe Theatre

The Canterbury Laureateship was developed by The Marlowe and Wise Words as a way of further cementing Canterbury’s status as a dynamic centre for literature. Lemn has developed and presented a series of talks and performances for us, culminating in this poem, called Cantuarian, which was unveiled on Saturday 9 June, at a special event in Canterbury Cathedral. It is also being projected onto the bridge which crosses the River Stour outside the theatre — part of the inspiration for the poem was the river and the way it moves through the city.

Lemn Sissay is one of the country’s best-known poets. He released his first book of poetry in 1988, aged 21. Since the age of 24 he has been a full-time writer and has performed internationally. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the 2012 London Olympics and is artist-in-residence at London’s Southbank Centre. His drama Something Dark has been performed across the world to great critical acclaim and has just been added to the A-level syllabus.

Speaking at the time of his appointment as Laureate, Lemn said: “As Canterbury’s Poet Laureate, my aim is to inspire and be inspired by this fantastic city. I am looking forward to collaborating, influencing and involving myself with the many artists and poets working here.”

And inspired he certainly has been, as the poem proves. You can watch a video of the poem being read by Lemn — with some help from the citizens of Canterbury above.