• Illustration of the River Thames through a porthole

The Thames Festival Trust is pleased to be launching a new talent development programme Boat Poets to support young emerging spoken word artists and poets through residencies in the wheel houses of river boats, barges and tugs to create new voices of the River Thames. 

The River Thames holds the story of how London came to be one of the most culturally rich and diverse places on the planet. In 2017 the river is the centre of working life for thousands of people, and a centre for tourism and industry. But what is the experience of the river and the people who work on it?

In collaboration with the Roundhouse and the National Poetry Library Boat Poets will work with four artists:

  • Jeremiah Brown aka SugarJ is one of Nationwide’s ‘Voices’ campaign with his poem ‘Face to Face’, and has performed at venues including the Roundhouse, the Southbank Centre and Birmingham NEC Arena to name a few.
  • Erin Bolens is a poet, performer and workshop leader and a former Glastonbury Festival Slam winner. Erin has written and performed for E4, Nationwide Building Society, the Royal Academy and more.
  • 2017 UK Poetry Slam Individual Champion Toby Campion described by BBC Sunday Politics Show as "the voice of a generation" andhis work has featured on national networks including BBC1, BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4.
  • Finally, Rachel Nwokoro is a London born Nigerian storyteller who was the first International Artist to be specially invited for a poetry residency in Mexico. She was 2016 UK SLAM Champion and current member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.

The artists will be in residence on floating working environments including Bennett’s Barges who have one of the largest fleets of barges on the Thames, Livett’s Launches a family business that has operated on the Thames in London since 1710, Cory Riverside Energy who use waste to produce safe sustainable energy for London and MBNA Thames Clippers who run the fastest and most frequent commuter service on the river. The poets will respond to their residencies with new work.

The artists will receive bespoke artist development and support, and mentoring from Thames Festival Trust team and poet Kat Francois. The new commissions will be unveiled and presented in September as part of Totally Thames 2017 programme. 

"Supporting and nurturing new and emerging artistic talent to work, create and play on the River Thames is right at the heart of our mission. So we’re thrilled to announce a Boat Poets programme featuring four emerging spoken word artists. We have arranged residencies for them on the river this Summer to share, exchange and create new voices and perspectives that we look forward to sharing with all at Totally Thames this September"
Adrian Evans, Director of Thames Festival Trust 

Boat Poets is supported by Tideway, City of London, Bennett’s Barges, Livett's Launches and MBNA Thames Clippers.