Untold Stories

Untold Stories – Poetry at English Heritage

This autumn we’re uncovering untold stories though poetry. Experience English Heritage sites though new commissions and write your own work inspired by our sites.

Co-curated by Jacob Sam-La Rose, English Heritage’s Poet in Residence for 2020, the programme features events, workshops, a schools programme and a competition. It offers opportunities for everyone to explore our past through poetry.

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The Programme

Untold Stories explores the hidden histories and contemporary resonances of English Heritage sites. The programme will run throughout Black History Month and beyond, and will highlight the voices and vision of Black poets. 

The programme includes some of England’s best poets, both established and emerging. They have been asked to reflect on the history, fabric and atmosphere of our sites, using their creativity to explore what lies beneath the surface of history’s prevailing narratives – stories that have gone untold or people who have been forgotten. 

This winter Untold Stories – Poetry at English Heritage will be published here. This digital anthology will bring together a collection of works written for the programme by amateur, emerging and established poets.


Untold Stories Podcast episode

Listen to this episode of the English Heritage Podcast where we’re joined by English Heritage’s poet-in-residence Jacob Sam-La Rose, emerging Poet Esme Allman and creative programme manager Caroline Moore to discuss Untold Stories – the month-long poetry programme taking place throughout Black History Month in October. 

Listen to the podcast
Jacob Sam-La Rose

Poet in Residence

Jacob Sam-La Rose is a poet, programme director, educator and editor. His poetry has been translated into Portuguese, Latvian, French and Dutch, and is studied at A Level.

He’s been responsible for the Spoken Word Education Programme, Shake the Dust (national youth poetry slam) and leads Barbican Young Poets, which he established in 2009.

Since February 2020, Jacob has been English Heritage’s first ever Poet in Residence. He released his new poem, What It Means to Be, on twitter for National Poetry Day and Black History Month, 1 October 2020.

View ‘What It Means To Be’
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Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved with Untold Stories, from members’ workshops to participatory events for young people hosted by our Shout Out Loud team.

If you are not feeling creative there will also be plenty to explore and learn. Come back soon for more event details including information about our 'Poetry is not a Luxury' panel discussion and English Heritage’s first ever poetry slam, bringing together emerging poets from Barbican Young Poets, Beat Freaks, Artful Scribe and The Writing Squad.




Poetry Competition

This autumn we’re inviting you to write your own poem. Your piece could be about your own experience, a historical figure that deserves more recognition, or an imagined character who has been left out of the history books.

We want everyone to explore their heritage by capturing the people, places, and communities that have shaped them, and contribute to the heritage that will be handed down to future generations.

The competition is open to children and adults. Winners will be selected to be included in the Untold Stories digital poetry anthology

Read more and enter
Jacob Sam-La Rose

Jacob’s Tips for Writing Poetry

To write poetry, you need to read it
When I started to take poetry seriously, I went to the Poetry Library on the South Bank in London and read everything I could put my hands on. There was a lot there that I didn’t appreciate or even understand, but making the effort to engage with that work helped me to appreciate the relations between what I wanted to do with my writing and what I didn’t want to do with my writing. It also helped me to appreciate that there are so many different ways of writing poems.

Find a way to get someone else’s thoughts on your writing
Feedback can be really useful, even if you ultimately reject it. It helps if you avoid asking someone if they like your poem but instead ask what a particular line or image meant to them.

Don’t just think of the poem as something you’re trying to show someone else
Listen out for what the poem is trying to tell you. Every poem is an opportunity to discover something.

Be true to your own voice
There’s value in emulating the poems you might admire but there’s a lot of power in the language you use every day.

Try on a different perspective for size
What happens when you try to write the poem from the perspective of someone (or even something) else in the scene or the moment you’re writing about?

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