Poets Laureate

800 Book

800 | Limited edition

Signed by Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke and Imtiaz Dharker

Featuring Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Peter Latimer and Lincolnshire residents,  800 is a limited edition 60 page, hardback book measuring 220mm x 220mm.

1215 copies have been printed. 800 copies have been distributed to Lincolnshire schools and libraries, the 53 Commonwealth heads of state, the British Library, Runnymede, Salisbury cathedral and world leaders .

Only 415 copies are available to the public. This is a rare collector’s item.

The Poets Laureate Lincolnshire Landscape programme is about people, place, identify and pride. It sees the convergence of international artists and Lincolnshire residents. It asks questions of the past and how that past has impacted on the lives of Lincolnshire people in 2015.

The 800 publication is one element of a suite of artistic interventions that has evolved over a 12 month period. Travelling across Lincolnshire’s geographical and cultural landscape, the project offered both freedom of expression and at the same time, amplification of voices to and for a diverse range of Lincolnshire communities.

Buy the 800 book


I have written many commissioned poems as National Poet of Wales since 2008, and this was certainly my most formidable project. I felt rather distant from Magna Carta, in knowledge, in understanding, in time, but also because it records an essentially ‘English’ moment. Wales had long had its own system of laws, codified in the 10th century by Hywel Dda, who got along very well with Athelstan of England.

I researched the internet, bought a book on Magna Carta and kept a poster of one of the surviving copies on my desk. It resembled a ploughed field. I read Magna Carta in translation, and practiced my schoolgirl Latin on the original. I thought of the man who copied it, one of about 40 scribes in Oxford and London making a copy for every shire. Ploughman and scribe, field and page, ridge and furrow, became my metaphor. I thought of my scribe working alongside perhaps 20 others, writing the Latin words dictated by some official. Maybe his father was a farmer or a landowner. I researched ploughing, the tools, methods and measurements, and the materials and practice of manuscript-making. With these in mind I waited, excited, for the first lines to come. I decided that a formal poem was needed, with a regular shape and rhythm. Yet my scribe must be human, like us, his natural world recognisably ours.

At last lines came, and three 8-line rhyming stanzas of, more or less, iambic pentameter began, first in my head, then on the page, in many drafts. I loved the languages of ploughing and scribing: that ‘furrow long’ is the origin of ‘furlong’, that the knife that cut quills gave us ‘pen-knife’.  I loved, too, knowing that a ‘burden’ suggests both the weight a worker carries, and a poem’s meaning. So language brings together ploughman, scribe and poet.

Gillian Clarke

Poets IMG2

Poets Laureate Lincolnshire Landscape 

Lincolnshire Young Poet Laureate


Peter Latimer has been appointed Lincolnshire’s first Young Poet Laureate.

Peter is a 17 year old from Lincoln who answered the call for talented young poets, spoken word artists and rappers to submit examples of their work along with what they thought was important about living in Lincolnshire in 2015, 800 years since the signing of Magna Carta.

Since taking up the Laureate tenure Peter has written a poem inspired by Magna Carta that had been included in the ‘800’ publication. A collection that also includes the commissioned  poems of Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke and Imtiaz Dharker, alongside the reflections of Lincolnshire residents on what Magna Carta means to them in 20125.  More details about the book can be found here.

During his tenure Peter will be visiting Lincolnshire schools facilitating poetry workshops. By the end of  2015 he will have collated and edited the children and young people’s work with a Lincolnshire Young Person’s anthology of poetry being produced early 2016.



 The Socially-Engaged Programme

Lincolnshire County Council and cultural solutions UK were committed to ensuring a wide cross section of Lincolnshire’s resident’s had an opportunity to engage with Magna Carta, in so doing demystifying the perception of ‘The Magna Carta project’ being a Lincoln-centric programme.

Four groups from across Lincolnshire expressed interest in participating in the project. This saw them committing to a programme of creativity over the spring and summer 2015.

The following groups participated:

Louth Mindfulness Grou

Boston Lithuanian and Latvian Community Group

Boston Police Cadets

Lincoln Christs’ Hospital School

Group members used as inspiration the Magna Carta ‘story’ and the commissioned poems of the Poets Laureate. They then developed their own artistic responses.

Louth Mindfulness Group

This project paired Lincolnshire felt artist Robyn Smith with the Louth Mindfulness Group, a peer-support network for adults with mental health issues.

A former mental health nurse, Robyn had been working as a community artist within the group for just over a year prior to this project, running a two-hour session once every fortnight.

Over a 14 week period the group met on a weekly basis to devise, design and make a large felt banner reflecting their discussions about Magna Carta, having a voice in society, independence and the stigma of mental illness.

Over the weeks group members took raw wool and worked with it to makke felt and then manipulate the felt to create the various sections of the banner.

The result is a 1.5 metre square banner that had been ‘touched’ by every member of the group. A great achievement and one that saw the group parade and  share their experience with a large festival 800 audience on 5 September 2015.

Boston Lithuanian and Latvian Community Group

In this project, a professional writer – Darren Bolton from Blueprint Film – worked with members of the group to produce four short audio dramas based on the stories of Lithuanian- and Latvian-born Lincolnshire residents. The project took place in two stages. In the first stage, Darren ran workshops with three separate groups of participants, encouraging them to share their stories of migration. Darren then used these diverse stories as the inspiration to produce three scripts for five-minute radio plays (a fourth script was written independently by one of the participants). In the second stage, the participants were recorded acting these plays out. Blueprint Film then took these recordings, edited them, added sound effects and music, and produced the four audio dramas. Two of these were played over speakers during the Magna Carta Poets Laureate Lincolnshire Landscape showcase event at The Collection, Lincoln on 5 September 2015 during Festival800.

Cake Shop

The Artist


The Date


Boston Police Cadets

Boston Police Cadets worked with Liz Lenten, a Lincolnshire-based singer, songwriter, singing teacher, and vocal coach. In total, nine Boston Police Cadets researched, wrote and recorded two songs based on the Magna Carta.

The Cadets’ leaders saw participation in the project as a valuable experience exploring as Magna Carta, amongst other things, civic society, human rights and the aspiration of social cohesion.

Participating cadets:

Tom, Charlotte, Ross, Michael, Rob, China, Hannah, Jordanne, Jared

King John Rap

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Look where we are now

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Lincoln Christs’ Hospital School

The school worked with Liz Lenten on the research, writing and recording of four original compositions. The young people met throughout the summer term exploring both the content of the Poets Laureate’s commissioned poems and that of the main themes of Magna Carta.

Participating students:

Bridget, Bronwyn, Charlotte, Maisie, Hannah, Freya, Megan, Susannah, Joe, Alice, Rowan, Eleanor

Break the Chain

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Masters and Lords

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We like the Magna Carta

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