Copyright 2020 Simon Armitage.

How to Apply: H to K Libraries Tour 2024

Touring: March 8-15, 2024

Submission window, July 1 – 5pm, Aug 14, 2023

Does your library’s name or location in the UK (village, town or city, but not street) begin with the letters H, I, J or K?

If so, you’re welcome to submit an invitation by 5.00pm, August 14, 2023, asking Simon Armitage to visit during the next Tour: March 8-15, 2024.  Full details can be found in the FAQs below. Five libraries across the UK will be selected for the H to K Libraries Tour 2024. We will advise whether your invitation has been successful by mid-September. 

Simon Armitage plans to give free readings in libraries across the UK during one week each spring, from the flagship libraries of the big cities to smaller or mobile libraries serving rural areas.

“… from A to Z, wherever the invitations take me.”

Using the alphabet as a compass, his ten-year journey will involve local communities, poets and high school students along the way and will celebrate the library as one of our great and necessary institutions.

” The letter X will be interesting – does anywhere in the UK begin with X?  I also want to find a way of including alphabet letters from other languages spoken in these islands such as Welsh, Urdu or Chinese, and to involve communities where English might not be the first language.”

The Poet Laureate launched his decade-long tour in Ashby-de-la-Zouch Library (‘A to Z in one go’, as librarians suggested!) with the A-B Libraries Tour in April 2021. The C-D Libraries Tour ran a year later, followed by the E-G Libraries Tour this March.

Now Simon Armitage is looking ahead to the H to K Libraries Tour in March 2024!

If your library falls into the rest of the alphabet, please check the chart at the bottom of this webpage for letters from ‘L’ onwards, including Welsh letters. The decade-long Tour is NOT already booked up! A window for invitations opens each summer for the following spring’s tour.  Notification is sent out via a range of library and arts organisations but if you wish to join the mailing list for an alert, please email: 

Can you help?

Does your library’s name or location (village, town or city but not street) begin with the letters H, I, J, or K? 

Invitations can be made by public libraries, CMLs or any other kind of library in the UK willing to throw open its doors for the occasion, such as private or independent libraries or those in prisons, hospitals, schools or cathedrals, and so on. Small libraries are eligible for celebration.

“My experience of reading and writing began in the village library where I grew up, then in the nearby town library, then in libraries at various places of study and teaching.”

If your library is a mobile library or home library service, then you will need to be creative about hosting an event. However, please get in touch if you’ve got a good idea!

Here, Simon Armitage speaks in Autumn 2019 – before the pandemic – about his hopes for the decade-long Laureate’s Library Tour. Full details of how to make an invitation follow below. 


“Thank you for understanding our working environment. It means so much to us in libraries when people support our work, and you’ve made the process as painless as possible. […] – there was a terrific energy on the night.”

Q1. What is Simon Armitage offering?

Simon Armitage hopes that the Laureate’s Library Tour events will be celebratory in nature. As a latter-day troubadour, he is offering to give a poetry reading (age advisory 11+) in the library itself.

Simon Armitage will invite a guest poet of his choice to perform alongside him during the one hour event which will include audience Q&A. Previously, his guests have included well-published poets, local Poet Laureates and Foyle Young Poet winners in the area.  The proposed guest poet will be discussed with the library and a programme agreed.  To prevent misunderstanding, we must ask please that libraries do not promise this opportunity to anyone they may have in mind or who puts themselves forward. The Tour retains the right to issue the invitation.

Simon Armitage would like to encourage libraries to find a way of including local community groups, high school students (age advisory 11+) and/or readers’ and writers’ groups in activities around the visit. Ideas thus far have included exhibitions of poetry (sometimes with associated artwork), local competitions or lively community projects such as Chatham Library’s Patchwork Poem.

He is also keen to hear from libraries that wish to celebrate alphabets from other languages spoken in the UK and communities where English may not be the first language.

The plan is for events held live and in-person in the library with a live in-library audience. That is, no live-streaming is required as during the pandemic.

Q2. What equipment is required for a poetry reading?  
  • a lectern + fixed stand-up microphone + PA
  • if your library venue is sizeable then a roving mic or two will be required to facilitate audience Q&A
  • a table beside the lectern which has space for water for each speaker and room for a speaker’s spare books to rest during their performance. 
Q3. What about the stage area?

The event should take place live inside the library, even if other local venues are bigger. The exception might be if the library is part of a community set-up which includes a hall. The aim of the tour is to bring audiences into libraries wherever possible though, not the nearby church or town hall. 

The ‘stage’ area can be very simple, but it:

  • will need enough room for a lectern, stand-up microphone & PA speakers.
  • should be reasonably quiet, especially if nearby windows need to be open and traffic noise could be an issue.
  • should avoid a backdrop of large windows which may turn the performers into silhouettes or introduce distractions behind them, e.g. passers-by, traffic, lights at night, etc. Of course, bookshelves are just fine as background but some of our hosts have had a lot of fun adding bunting, pot plants or other creative touches.
Q4. What about finance?
There will be no charge to your library for Simon Armitage’s or the guest poets’ performance fees, travel expenses or any hotel costs that may be necessary.
Your proposed event for the Laureate Library’s Tour should be free to the in-library audience to help make it accessible to everyone. If in-library space is limited, you may wish to propose a specific live audience (e.g. pre-invited community groups taking part in a project to celebrate the library) although this can have drawbacks if other library-users feel excluded. Some libraries have given priority access to certain groups for 50% of seats instead.
Projects are around the visit are welcome, but not essential. Please note that the Tour’s funds will not stretch as far as Simon Armitage or the guest poet(s) providing extra time to judge poetry or art competitions. Nor can they offer writing workshops.
If your library has a kitchen and you are in a position to offer refreshments at the event which invite donations, please feel free to do so. However, we recognise that many libraries do not have these facilities or sufficient staffing. 
The Laureate’s Library Tour is supported by the T. S. Eliot Foundation and Simon Armitage’s long-time publishers Faber & Faber. The first two annual legs of the Tour were also kindly funded using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The C-D Libraries Tour and E-G Libraries Tour received generous support from Mark Pigott, KBE.  
Q5. We’re eligible for the H to K Tour, so how do we make an invitation?

The submission window is open from July 1 until 5.00pm on August 14, 2023. Notification of the window is sent out through a variety of library and arts organisations and posted on Simon Armitage’s Instagram. 

When submitting an invitation during this period, please cover these questions in an email (there is no application form):

  • why would you like Simon Armitage to come and celebrate YOUR library?
  • what are your ideas for the event?
  • do you plan any projects before or after the event? 
  • what is your preferred day of the week for a visit during the Tour dates, March 8-15, 2024? 
  • are you thinking of a day-time or evening event? 
  • where is the nearest parking?
  • where is the nearest rail or metro/tube station?
  • where in the library are you thinking of staging the event? 
  • roughly how many people you can seat in the audience (without Covid safe-distancing)? Small libraries are definitely eligible. 
  • can you set-up a lectern, fixed stand-up mic and PA for the performance?
  • can you provide and usher one or two roving mics for the audience Q&A if your audience is sizeable? 
  • can you provide a ‘green room’ at all, e.g. a separate private space for the performers before the event? 
  • can you cover possible marketing costs such as printed posters (not compulsory) if you are not a public library? 

Please email your invitation by 5pm, August 14, 2023 at the very latest to 

Five libraries across the UK will be selected for the H to K Libraries Tour 2024. We will advise whether your invitation has been successful by mid-September.

Sometimes libraries ask whether Simon Armitage will visit their county again if he’s visited the area before. The answer is yes, if the libraries concerned and their ideas are very different. In general, the hope is to visit a variety of libraries across the UK insofar as the geographical jigsaw puzzle and funding of each annual tour allows. 

Thank you for your interest!

Q6. What if our library’s name or location does not begin with the letters H, I, J or K?
Please check the alphabet chart below to find out when Simon Armitage could be coming your way. The decade is NOT already booked up! A window for invitations will open each summer for the following spring’s tour.  The timing of this window may vary because of funding application schedules. 

If a library’s name or location begins withSpring Tour Dates
Latin alphabetWelsh Letters5 libraries/year
2020 (postponed by Covid)
A, B Apr 26 - May 1, 2021
C, DCh, DdMar 26 - Apr 2, 2022
E, F, GFf, NgMar 17 - 23, 2023
H, I , J, K Mar 8 - 15, 2024
L, MLl2025
N, O, P 2026
Q, R, SPh, Rh2027
T, U, VTh2028
W, X, Y, Z 2029




Literary Agent
DGA (David Godwin Associates)
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0207 240 9992
To enquire:

Media Enquiries
Kirsty McLachlan
Morgan Green Creatives Ltd

To Book a Poetry Reading
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Anya Backlund
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