The Canal Laureate is a poet appointed by The Poetry Society and Canal & River Trust to write new poems inspired by the Canal network. The Canal Laureate project is part of Arts on the Waterways, a wider partnership between the Canal & River Trust and Arts Council England, which aims to attract more visitors to the waterways while surprising and delighting existing communities through exciting and innovative art projects.
Canal Laureate 2018
Photo: Björn Valdimarsson 2015
Nancy Campbell is a writer who works across disciplines, from poetry and essays to publishing artist’s books. Nancy grew up in the Scottish Borders and Northumberland and her work is informed by these landscapes and borderlines. A series of residencies with Arctic research institutions has resulted in projects responding to cultural and climate change in polar and marine environments.
Nancy’s poetry collection Disko Bay (‘a beautiful debut from a deft, dangerous and dazzling new poet’ – Carol Ann Duffy) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2016. Her artist’s books include proviso, Death of a Foster Son and How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet which received the Birgit Skiöld Award.
Nancy is dedicated to developing innovative literature projects to engage audiences with environmental issues. She was a MarieClaire ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2016 for activities including Arctic Book Club and The Polar Tombola, an interactive live literature event.
Nancy’s writing on the visual arts appears regularly in the Times Literary Supplement and many other journals. Bill Jacklin: Graphics, co-authored with Jill Lloyd, was published in 2016 to accompany the artist’s exhibition at the Royal Academy. For some years the editor of international art magazine Printmaking Today, she remains on its editorial board.
Watch Nancy reading one of her Arctic poems ‘The Message’
Watch Nancy’s poem for Channel 4
Canal Laureate 2016-2017 Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard is the author of five collections of poetry and a novella called Holophin (Penned in the Margins, 2012). His first book, The Solex Brothers, won him an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2005. His second, The Harbour Beyond the Movie made him the youngest poet to be shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. He has also published two chapbooks, Planet Shaped Horse (Nine Arches, 2011) and The Necropolis Boat (Holdfire Press, 2012) which won the Poetry Book Society’s pamphlet choice in 2012. A Lost Expression was published by Salt in 2012 to critical acclaim and his fifth collection, Cain, came out with Penned in the Margins in 2016. His literary criticism has appeared in the TLS, Poetry London and The National.
Luke Kennard lives in Birmingham. He was born in Kingston-upon-Thames and grew up in Luton. He has a PhD in English from the University of Exeter and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. In 2014 he was named one of the Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Book Society in their once per-decade list of poets “expected to dominate the poetry landscape of the coming decade”.
Canal Laureate 2013-2015 Jo Bell
Poet, Jo Bell was the inaugural Canal Laureate for the Canal & River Trust and The Poetry Society from 2013-2015. The Canal Laureate project is part of a wider partnership between the Canal & River Trust and Arts Council England, which aims to attract more visitors to the waterways while surprising and delighting existing communities through exciting and innovative art projects.
Jo Bell was formerly an industrial archaeologist specialising in industrial remains like mines, railways… and canals. She discovered historic narrowboats and began writing poetry seriously at about the same time; and her career has since included running a fleet of historic narrowboats and acting as director of National Poetry Day for six years.
Born in Sheffield, Jo grew up on the fringes of the Derbyshire Peak District. She lives on 67ft narrowboat ‘Tinker’, currently moored in Staffordshire.
Her 2015 poetry collection Kith contains many of the poems written during her time as Canal Laureate. It is published by Nine Arches Press. Her first collection, Navigation includes poems of boat life and canal wildlife, and her show Riverlands with Jo Blake Cave celebrates the River Nene in Northamptonshire.
Her poetry can also be seen on a lock in Milnsbridge, near Huddersfield, as part of the Locklines project.