On The Barbican Young Poets 2017

“What was one thing you’ve taken away from being a part of the Barbican Young Poets this year?”

To answer that question would be for me to catch you up on the past six to seven months of my life, starting from that sunny Sunday afternoon sandwiched between four other friends in a car parked somewhere in Chelmsford and I had just refreshed my mail app to Lorna McGinty’s message with the title Barbican Young Poets.

Many has come to call Frobisher Rooms 4 and 5 a home, a place where people can be themselves. And the weird thing is, when we come into such a space like that we flourish. I’ve never felt growth the way I felt it when I was in the middle of a writing prompt, getting multiple epiphanies at the same time while trying to dissect a poem or finding new ways to write something in the middle of writing something else.

I’ve asked some of my “classmates” from this year’s group the same question and here are their responses:

To Lauren, Lorna, Rachel and Jacob. 

Bobby Sun – The biggest thing I’ve taken away from BYP is that I’m not alone. I know it sounds cliché, but the sense of community and collaboration, and the easy bonds between the poets, gave me a sense of confidence in my work that I never had before. I hope to collaborate with BYP members in the future, and I look forward to seeing y’all do big things too.

Omar Bynon – Process. I finally worked out my recipe for writing and it feels amazing. Gonna cook up some tasty meals now.

Remi Graves – Beyond the joy I found in realising that you can form community through the word – I think BYP taught me the importance of crafting not just creating – that once it is on the page you must sit with it, love it, hate it and reshape it until it tells the story you want it to. This discovery has been daunting in parts, but mainly inspiring.

Anna Kahn – @BYPoets was the first competitive poetry thing I ever applied for. The act of saying “I think my poetry is good enough for this”.

Check out the rest of her answer on her Twitter thread which she tweeted after the showcase itself.


Jolade Olusanya – Through BYP I’ve seen there are many layers to one’s story and to reach its core, you have to truly question what you are trying to say and why. Only then will the written form lend itself to you and not betray what you are capable of creating.

Malakaï Sargeant – Barbican Young Poets is so much more than a workshop session. It breeds a community, one that grows year by year and I am privileged to be a part of it. My writing has grown immeasurably and I’m finally confident enough to actually call myself a poet, constantly growing and learning.

Celestina Rowaiye – What I took away from BYP this year is the power/importance of editing and the usefulness of (the BYP) community and peer support.

Megha Harish – I remember thinking a lot about mudita the year leading up to uni, using it as the grounds on which to ground my applications and personal statement, but I think back then it meant something different to me. It was this strange superior saviour complex thing. It was happiness that is as a result of my actions, it was helping for some selfish pleasure of mine.

Today there’s this real joy that the day has ended on. Jolade just won the Outspoken London Performance Poetry + overall prize. I don’t know him as well as I’d like to. I had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even there to see it. I didn’t truly realise how much I loved his work until rehearsal on Friday to be honest, it just wasn’t the same watching a video online months ago, but I am so, so, so happy, really brimming, at the end of quite an up and down but mostly down day as well, this has given me a massive up. I think maybe this is what truly being happy because of someone else’s happiness is. This might just be the biggest thing I’ve learnt from BYP.

Jeremiah “SugarJ Poet” Brown

  1. I have learnt and been reminded of the potential of poetry, what a vast world of capabilities that it is. Thank you Jacob, thank you Rachel.
  1. I will take away the love and awe that comes with consistently being in the presence of friends who are also supremely talented. Thank you BYP community.

Ruth Sutoyé – Working collaboratively with other poets changed my poetry Jacob Sam-La Rose is gold. BYP pushed and constantly challenged me, crushed my comfort zone as a poet and I learnt not just about the theory and mechanics of poetry but also how to build my career on a logical level as a poet/facilitator.

Applications for this year’s Barbican Young Poets will re-open in the summer over at the link below. Best of luck!


– Troy

Image courtesy of @ShayDRap

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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