Jacob Sam-La Rose’s poetry has been characterised as vivid, masterly and carefully structured. He is widely recognised as an indefatigable facilitator, mentor and supporter of young and emerging poets, and as an advocate for the positive impact of new technology on literary and artistic practice and collaboration.
Widely published, Sam-La Rose has been featured in a range of journals and anthologies, including Out of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets (2012); Identity State: New British and Irish Poets (2010); Penguin’s Poems for Love (2009); and Michael Rosen’s A-Z: The Best Children’s Poetry from Agard to Zephaniah (2009). His debut pamphlet, Communion (2006), was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and his collection Breaking Silence (2012) has been shortlisted for a Forward Poetry Prize (the Felix Dennis Award).
He has led workshops in schools, youth groups and other institutions and has developed creative writing and performance programmes for all ages, from first experiences with poetry or work with reluctant writers through to professional and artistic development projects for more established poets, writers and other educators internationally. He’s well known as a leading figure within the UK’s youth slam poetry movement, serving as the Artistic Director for such initiatives as the London Teenage Poetry SLAM, Apples & Snakes Word Cup and Shake the Dust— the UK’s largest national youth slam— as well as supporting the development of Slammarit, the first youth slam programme in Finland.
In 2009, Sam-La Rose was one of 12 poets commissioned by Arts Council England to produce new work to mark the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. He’s been commissioned to produce new work for the National Gallery, the London School of Economics, Nitro (Black Music Theatre Co-Operative) and International PEN. He’s toured with the British Council and featured at a range of international festivals and venues, including the Leipzig Buchmesse, the Urb Festival (Helsinki), the Cuirt festival (Galway) and the Gwendolyn Brooks Black Writers’ Conference (Chicago). He’s been positioned as a writer in residence at Raffles Institution (Singapore), has worked with the Ministry of Education in Malaysia to train English teachers and has taught as a guest at the University of Botswana and the University of Westminster. He was a co-founder of the infamous Malika’s Kitchen collective, and established the Roundhouse Poetry program before moving on to establish a rolling seven month poetry workshop program and community at the Barbican Centre.