Copyright 2024 Simon Armitage.

How to Apply: L, Ll, M Libraries Tour 2025

Touring: March 5-12, 2025 

Submission window for eligible invitations: July 8 to Aug 21, 2024

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Does your library’s name or location in the UK (village, town or city, but not street) begin with the letters L, Ll or M?

If so, your library is welcome to submit an invitation by 12 midnight, August 21, 2024, asking Simon Armitage to visit during the next Tour: March 5-12, 2025.  Full details can be found in the FAQs below. Five libraries across the UK will be selected for the L , Ll, M Libraries Tour 2025. We will advise in early October whether your invitation has been successful.

“I want to celebrate the physical space of libraries and take my work back into places that have given me so much.”

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, young people (age 11+), writers and readers 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 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 2021. The C-D Libraries Tour ran a year later, followed by the E-G Libraries Tour in 2023 and H-K Libraries Tour last spring. You can explore these tours via the links. 

Now Simon Armitage is looking ahead to the L, Ll, M Libraries Tour in March 2025!

If your library falls into the rest of the alphabet, please check the chart at the bottom of this webpage for letters from ‘N’ onwards, including Welsh letters. The decade-long Tour is NOT already booked up! A submission 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: laureatelibrarytour@gmail.com 

Can you help?

Does your library’s name or location (village, town or city but not street) begin with the letters L, Ll or M? 

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. As Simon Armitage says: 

“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!

FAQs

“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.”

“[We] had a very appreciative audience who listened intently and the rapturous applause at the end showed their delight. We don’t get such high profile events in our smaller libraries so this was a delight for the community.”

Q1. What is Simon Armitage offering?

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

Simon Armitage would like to encourage libraries to find a way of including any of the following in activities during the lead-up to his visit: groups which meet in the library or locally, young people (age advisory 11+) and/or readers’ and writers’ groups. Ideas thus far have included exhibitions of poetry (sometimes with associated artwork) 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 or only language. For example, libraries to date have celebrated poetry in Scottish Gaelic (on North Uist), Doric (Aberdeen), Welsh (Carmarthen) and hosted a bi-lingual Somali/English poetry reading (Harlesden Library, Brent).

Simon Armitage may read solo or will invite a guest poet to perform before him during the one hour event. Previously, his guests have included well-published poets and those representing talent development schemes such as local Poet Laureates, Young Makars, poets from Representing Wales, Foyle Young Poet winners or young poets from local competitions or groups, or writers-in-residence in the area. However, to avoid misunderstanding, we must ask that libraries do not promise the role of guest poet to anyone they may have in mind or a writer who puts themselves forward.  Any guest poet will be invited after discussion with the library and a programme has been agreed but the Tour retains the right to issue the invitation.

Q2. What equipment is required for a poetry reading?  
  • a lectern + fixed stand-up microphone + PA, even if your library is small please (to help cater for all voices)
  • 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 to be accessible and have 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. These will be covered and administered by the Tour.
 
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 or the wider community feel excluded. Some libraries have given priority access to certain groups for a percentage of seats instead or created a lottery for seats. Some libraries use an online booking system which allows them to operate a waiting list. You can see the different approaches if you explore archive pages of previous tours (please see the website menu).
 
Projects around the visit are welcome, but not essential. Please note that unfortunately 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 or to provide writing workshops alongside your project.
 
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 decade-long 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 also received generous support from Mark Pigott, KBE.  
Q5. We’re eligible for the L, Ll, M Libraries Tour, so how do we make an invitation?

The submission window is open from July 8 until midnight, August 21, 2024. 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? 
  • do you have preferred day(s) of the week for a visit during the Tour dates, March 5-12, 2025? 
  • 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? 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 midnight, August 21, 2024 at the very latest to laureatelibrarytour@gmail.com 

Five libraries across the UK will be selected for the L, Ll, M Libraries Tour 2025. We will advise by early October whether your invitation has been successful.

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

Thank you very much for your interest!

Q6. What if our library’s name or location does not begin with the letters L, Ll or M?

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

Contact: laureatelibrarytour@gmail.com 

 

Contact

Literary Agent
Kirsty McLachlan
kirsty@morgangreencreatives.com
Morgan Green Creatives Ltd


To Book a Poetry Reading
Caroline Hawkridge
hawkridgeagency@gmail.com
The Hawkridge Agency

USA
Anya Backlund
anya@blueflowerarts.com
Blue Flower Arts, LLC


To Book LYR
Alex Zinovieff
alex@alwaysmgmt.com

Other enquiries
poetlaureatecontact@gmail.com

simonarmitage_official