My name is Richard O’Brien, and I’m the serving Birmingham Poet Laureate for 2018-2020.
On this website I’ll be sharing work in progress, commissioned poems, and some projects of my own which engage with the rich heritage and contemporary landscape of my adopted city. It’s the role of the Birmingham Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate (a role which for 2018-2020 is filled by Aliyah Begum) to produce new poems and work to promote poetry across the city, as part of a scheme run by the Library of Birmingham.
I’ve been living in Birmingham since 2015, when I moved to the Jewellery Quarter while undertaking a PhD at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. I graduated in 2017 and continued teaching at the same university.
I’m passionate about writing and sharing poetry with children and adults, in my academic work and in the schools and community workshops I facilitate. If you’d like to book me for a workshop, event or commission, please go to the ‘Contact’ page on the menu bar and fill out the form.
My poetry has been published by the Emma Press (The Emmores, 2014) and Valley Press (A Bloody Mess, 2015), as well as in various magazines and anthologies, including Poetry London, The Literateur, and Eyewear’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. In 2017, I was one of six winners of the Society of Authors’ Eric Gregory Awards for a collection of poems by an author under thirty.
My writing for theatre includes three verse plays, produced as part of my practice-based PhD research, and The Selfish Giant, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s short story commissioned for London’s Arcola Theatre in December 2016. As a commissioning editor for the Emma Press, based in the Jewellery Quarter, I put together anthologies of poetry for both adults and children.