Former Brighton student celebrating London’s bridges in verse

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A poet whose love of literature was fuelled as a sixth-former in Brighton has landed a job celebrating in verse some of London’s most iconic bridges.

Cecila Knapp has been appointed poet-in-residence for City Bridge Foundation – the 900-year-old charity which owns Tower Bridge and four other Thames crossings.

The 31-year-old grew up in Hollingbury and attended Priory School, in Lewes, and BHASVIC, in Brighton, where she first developed a love for literature and started writing poems as an A-level English student.

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She will hold the position, believed to unique among bridge owners, for one year, supported by the foundation and its partner The Poetry Society – the leading voice for UK poetry.

Brighton-born poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate London's bridges in verse.Brighton-born poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate London's bridges in verse.
Brighton-born poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate London's bridges in verse.

Cecilia, who now lives in Hackney, east London, will also draw inspiration from the charity’s role as London’s biggest independent charity funder, and the work of the organisations it funds.

Cecila said: “When I lived in Brighton I spent so many hours sitting on the beach in all seasons or walking around the city.

“It’s such a unique and fascinating place. The sea, the people, the energy and the beautiful idiosyncrasies of the place often come through in my writing even though I’m now in London.

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“It’s really exciting and creatively fulfilling to be able to take on a completely new role and to work with City Bridge Foundation to design what the job is and what it can do for London.

Poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate in verse bridges including Tower Bridge.Poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate in verse bridges including Tower Bridge.
Poet Cecilia Knapp will celebrate in verse bridges including Tower Bridge.

“It’s inspiring to see how many amazing initiatives the charity funds across the capital and I’m looking forward to using poetry to connect with and celebrate those communities.

“A bridge is a poetic concept – the idea of connecting people – and poetry is a great connector, so using poetry to talk about bridges, and the people that use them, feels like a natural fit.”

During her year in office, Cecilia will write poems about Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars bridges, as well as the foundation’s funding work and wider issues affecting the capital.

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She will also perform her work at events and be tasked with developing poetry-themed community and educational activities.

Giles Shilson, City Bridge Foundation chairman, said: “We were absolutely delighted by the number and quality of applications we received for this position, which are testament to the strength and diversity of the poetry community in London and beyond.

“Apart from the power of her poetry and her years of experience, what greatly impressed us was Cecilia’s strong vision for the role and how her poetry could reflect our work in bridging London and connecting communities.”

Cecilia began her journey as professional poet after attending poetry workshops at legendary Camden arts venue The Roundhouse.

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She has previously served as Young Person’s Laureate for London and resident poet at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and had her first collection of poems, Peach Pig, published two years ago.

Judith Palmer, Director of The Poetry Society, said:“This is such an exciting residency opportunity, which inspired some really amazing proposals, proving the ability of bridges to capture the poetic imagination.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with Cecilia in the year ahead, learning more about the river’s local communities, and sharing the new work Cecilia creates as she guides us to see these special places through fresh eyes.”

Cecilia’s work will be published on City Bridge Foundation and Poetry Society social media channels and at www.citybridgefoundation.org.uk/poetry and www.poetrysociety.org.uk