On October 26 Exiled Writers Ink was invited to join other poetry organisations in welcoming the American Youth Poet Laureate, Kara Jackson. Seven other organisations were invited, including Barbican Youth Poets, Apples & Snakes, Poetic Unity and Battersea Arts Centre.

The Ambassador, Jane Hartley, welcomed the guests and spoke about her commitment to diversity in the art, and poetry as a source of power for positive change. Only the second female ambassador from the US to the UK, she said she felt that it was leadership’s responsibility to “break down barriers” through art and artists, quoting Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem: “there is always light…if you can see and be it.”

Since 2017, when Amanda Gorman was named, there has been one youth poet laureate a year, chosen for their writing and speaking skills and commitment to social engagement.

Kara Jackson is a poet, singer and songwriter who grew up in Ohio, with roots in the American South. She sang in a powerful voice, her words full of learned wisdom. Afterwards, she MC’d the readings from a wide variety of young London poets.

Lester Gomez represented Exiled Writers Ink, reading and performing a poem from his pamphlet, The Riddle of the Cashew. His work was warmly received by the audience. Other EWI members attended and cheered him on. Afterwards, we were invited for a drinks reception where we met some of the other poets.