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Adrian Johnson - Birmingham Poet Laureate 2009 - 2010

Birminghum - a poem by Adrian Johnson.

Read Adrian's poem about the Staffordshire Hoard and watch him performing it on YouTube.

Birmingham Libraries were delighted to announce Adrian Johnson as the city's 14th Poet Laureate in 2009. Following in the footsteps of Birmingham's previous poets laureates, Adrian had an exciting year and brought poetry to a number of places in the city. To celebrate National Poetry Day in 2009, Adrian recalled heroes and heroines, with poetry and short stories at six public locations in Birmingham’s city centre, including the statue of Nelson in the Bullring, the iron man at the top of New Street, the Floosie in the Jacuzzi and the three Golden Boys (Boulton, Watt Murdoch) on Broad Street.

Read Adrian's poem - We like heroes here

Adrian Johnson

The theme for national poetry day in 2009 was ‘Heroes and Heroines’ and for that day Adrian marked the 200th anniversary of the great British sea faring hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, a man for which the people of Birmingham raised funds to raise a statue in his honour, exactly 200 years ago in October 2009.

Adrian said: "Horatio Nelson stands right in the centre of the new Bullring in Birmingham, looking towards Digbeth, and that’s exactly where I will begin our ‘heroes journey’ and then move on to five other inspiring public locations in the city with stories, poetry and songs by me and members of the public."

About Adrian:

Adrian Johnson

Adrian Johnson is a writer, poet and storyteller who lives in Smethwick. Between 1998 and 2001 he produced the live literature event, Rhubarb and Digbeth at Hennessy’s public house in Digbeth and later transferred it to Waterstone’s in High Street, Birmingham. Between 2002 and 2004, Adrian and Simon Pitt (Birmingham Poet Laureate 1999/2000) co-produced Platform 5 – Live Writing to Go! Birmingham's first monthly performance space for poets, storytellers and fiction writers.

In 2008 Adrian completed his first novel – Love and taxes and the stage, musical adaptation of this work appears at the Wolverhampton Arena on 11 December, 2009.

Adrian’s poetry heroes include Henry Normal, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Rosen, Adrian Mitchell, Charles Bukowski, Benjamin Zephaniah, Moqapi Selassie, Billie Collins, Dreadlockalien, Simon Pitt and Liz Lochhead.

Adrian is a member of the National Association of Literature Development and his production company ‘kindandgenerous’ devised the UK’s first laureate for storytelling which goes live in January, 2010. His work has been published in The Guardian, Poetry News, Horizon Magazine, Public Library Journal, NALD online, Cannongate Books online journal and assorted poetry magazines.

Adrian has always lived in the middle of England and many years ago made a trip from Northampton to the ‘Readers and Writers’ festival at the mac (Midlands Arts Centre) and felt he’d arrived close to writer’s heaven. Adrian has a nine year old daughter, Ella and this week thinks ‘Florence and the Machine’ are the best band on the planet.

Adrian takes responsibility for projects and activities concerned with developing publishing, literature festivals, storytelling, writer development and work with public libraries across the West Midlands with Arts Council England.

Adrian Johnson with Philip Benjamin-Coker

Philip Benjamin-Coker officially inaugurates the 14th Birmingham Poet Laureate, Adrian Johnson.
Photo © Marina Johnson.

If you would like to commission a poem from Adrian or would like to book him for events/workshops/conferences, please complete the booking form below and return it to Nikki Bi (nikki.bi@birmingham.gov.uk) or contact Nikki on 0121 303 2895.