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Introducing the Ilkley Literature Festival 2023 Apprentice Poets in Residence

Freya Bantiff

Ilkley Literature Festival’s Apprentice Poet in Residence position has gained a reputation for launching the careers of emerging poets in the north of England. This year, the standard of applicants was so high that they took the decision to appoint not one, but two! The position will be jointly held by two incredibly talented emerging poets, Chris Singleton and Freya Bantiff.

Both Chris and Freya will be writing commissions inspired by the festival’s themes, as well as running writing workshops for aspiring writers and performing at the festival as part of a showcase.

Chris Singleton is a queer and neurodiverse poet and playwright. He recently finished touring his debut spoken word comedy show about grief, loss and self-acceptance. In 2021 his debut poetry pamphlet was published by Indigo Dreams and he was shortlisted for Best Spoken Word Performer and Best Spoken Word Show at the Saboteur Awards 2022.

Chris Singleton

Freya Bantiff is a Sheffield poet who has placed third in the National Poetry Competition. She has won the Young Writer Award of the Bridport Poetry Prize and the Canterbury Poet of the Year competition. Her poems and stories have been placed in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition and the Foyle Young Poet of the Year.

For the first time, the Apprentice Poets in Residence position will be sponsored by the Walter Swan Trust. Niccola Swan, chair of the trust, said: “The Walter Swan Trust has been really proud to sponsor the poetry prize for a number of years, commemorating Walter’s great support for the Literature Festival when he worked at Ilkley Playhouse. For our final year, we are really pleased to be supporting the post of Apprentice Poet in Residence. This would have been something which Walter would have been really pleased to be involved with. We wish the post-holders a great season with the Literature Festival.”

Singleton and Bantiff will follow in the footsteps of previous Apprentices, including Eric Gregory Award winner Phoebe Power; Zodwa Nyoni – a Channel 4 Writer in Residence at West Yorkshire Playhouse; Mark Pajak who won a Northern Writer’s Award, an Eric Gregory Award and the Bridport Prize; Rheima Robinson, Creative Director of The Sunday Practice; and joint 2022 Apprentice Poets in Residence Rebecca Green, shortlisted for the WriterznScribez Griots Well, and Sarah-Clare Conlon, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and winner of the Salt Prizes.

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