Festival Laureates


Each year Durham Book Festival works in partnership with Durham University’s Centre for Poetry and Poetics to invite an acclaimed poet to become the Festival Laureate. As well as presenting a newly commissioned poet at the festival, the laureate also visits young people from local secondary schools in County Durham and takes part in a special event for Durham University students. You can read more about past Festival Laureates here.

Previous Winners

Jacob Polley

Jacob Polley was born and grew up in Cumbria. His fourth book of poems, Jackself, won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, the judges describing it as ‘a firework of a book; inventive, exciting and outstanding in its imaginative range and depth of feeling.’

Andrew McMillan

Andrew McMillan’s debut, physical, was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award; it also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield. She joined the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University as Lecturer in Creative Writing in September 2016, having previously been Derbyshire Poet Laureate, Wordsworth Trust Poet in Residence and a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at The University of Leeds.

Sinéad Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey was born in 1972 and grew up in Belfast. She read English and German at Trinity College, Dublin, from which she took her PhD in 2003. She has been a contributor to PN Review since 1994. She won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1990.

Paul Farley

Paul Farley was born in Liverpool in 1965 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He has published four poetry books with Picador: The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award and a Forward Prize in 1998)

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet and professor of poetry, as well as an editor, critic, playwright, lyricist and translator. Muldoon is the author of twelve major collections of poetry, including One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (2015), Maggot (2010), Horse Latitudes (2006), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Hay (1998), The Annals of Chile (1994), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), Meeting the British (1987), Quoof (1983), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Mules (1977) and New Weather (1973).

Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison is the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, and a major figure in world literature. She is the author of nine collections of poetry, three collections of short stories and an award-winning memoir, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People.

Don Paterson

Don Paterson was born in Dundee in 1963, and now lives in Edinburgh. His previous poetry collections include Nil Nil, God’s Gift to Women, Landing Light and Rain. He has also published two books of aphorism, as well as translations of Antonio Machado and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage was born in 1963 in the village of Marsden and lives in West Yorkshire. He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, a Lannan Award and the Keats- Shelley Poetry Prize. Zoom! (1989) was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

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