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Mixed Borders: Poet in Residence Training – Apply Now!

Lover of flowers and/or vegetables? Want some poet-in-residence training? Read on, we have an opportunity for you!

For the last two years, the Poetry School and London Parks and Gardens Trust have teamed up for a poet-in-residence training scheme centred on London’s Gardens. We call the scheme ‘Mixed Borders’.

“I felt like the training greatly demystified the experience of being a Writer in Residence.” – Zakia Carpenter-Hall

Julia Bird from the Poetry School and Sarah Hesketh from LPGT (also a poet herself) give participating poets (16 the first year, 30 (!) the second) a thorough how-to-be-a-resident training session, and then each poet is paired up with one of the gardens taking part in June’s Open Garden Squares Weekend. Churchyards, community gardens, rooftop vegetable patches – the various settings inspire new poems, projects, conversations and interventions. Reports and photos from the projects are dotted around CAMPUS.

The scheme is one of the most successful projects we’ve ever managed – we reach new audiences, poets develop new skills, gardeners think in new ways about poetry. We’re delighted to be running the scheme again for 2017.

We are looking for a number of poets to take part in Mixed Borders 3. You’ll receive a training session on successful residency strategies, and work with poets from previous years to shape your own residency in a London garden. By the end of the project you should have a lot of material for new work, and experience enough to begin to source your own extended residencies.

“Through this residency I sent a poem to Poetica Botanica, which was published on their website and resulted in my first invitation to read at any event.  Then invited to read at Ledbury.  Just the biggest thanks” – Sofia Hafeji

You don’t need to have had previous poet-in-residence experience to take part in this project, but you do need to be writing at an advanced level and be able to organise and carry out the particulars of your own residency.

There will be a maximum of 30 gardens participating in this scheme, but some gardens can host more than one writer. If you would like to apply with a writing partner, you would be welcome to.

We are particularly keen to hear from people who feel they have lacked opportunities to develop their poetry in the past for reasons of social circumstances or background.

How to Apply

Mixed Borders 3 has two aims …

  • LPGT  are keen to extend the reach of their annual London Open Gardens weekend. By having poets in residence in a number of their gardens over the weekend in June, they hope to attract additional visitors, profile and publicity.
  • The Poetry School is a firm believer in the power of poetry residencies, for the benefits they bring to both poets and host organisations. By offering these small, supported mini garden residencies as part of our programme, we hope to offer a fun and enriching experience outright, as well as giving participants the skills and confidence necessary to develop their own more complex residencies in the future.

While Sarah and Julia will be able to give participants lots of pointers about how to organise their mini residencies at the training session/s, they  won’t be able to manage all the residency details for them as neither the LPGT or the Poetry School has enough staff hours to take all the individual projects on. This residency project is also for people who are writing at an intermediate to advanced level only (details here) Most of our activities are open access, first come first served – but Mixed Borders 3 will only work successfully if we match up the right poet with the right garden. So, before we enrol you, please can we check …


  • Availability. You need to be able to come to the all-day session on 11 March 2017 at the Poetry School, and to be resident in your allocated London garden for both days over the weekend of 17 & 18 June 2017. The amount of contact between you and your garden owner in between times will depend on the style of residency you go for.
  • Organisational Skills. Are you confident about establishing new relationships with your mentor and garden owner, sorting out the practicalities of visits and any events /exhibitions / interventions that are to take place during the June weekend? Are you happy instigating conversations with a wide range of garden visitors of all ages and interests? Both the Poetry School and the LPGT will be looking to promote the project quite widely, are you happy to be involved in a little light marketing and publicity work?

We are particularly keen to hear from people who feel they have lacked opportunities to develop their poetry in the past for reasons of social circumstances or background.

Please email three of your poems and a short biography addressing the issues above and detailing any relevant experience to Julia Bird ([email protected]) by Friday 3 February 2017. If you are applying in a pair, please send one application with poems and biogs from each of you. We will make the decision about which poets we’re going to work with by mid February.

One Comment

  • Poet in residence training | The Poet's Resource

    […] If, like me, you’ve always fancied being a poet in residence and you love gardens, then the Mixed Borders training project could be for you! Hosted by the Poetry School in London, together with the London Parks & Gardens Trust (LPGT), the scheme will provide successful applicants with a day’s training in March. Poets will be allocated a garden during the  Open Garden Squares weekend in London in June. Deadline is Friday 3 February 2017. Full details here. […]

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Image Credit: Martin Fisch. This image has been filtered and cropped.