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Birmingham Poet Laureate to lead on Dogpool Lane Poetry Garden

Following the recent granting of planning permission for purpose-built student accommodation and landscaping to regenerate a currently disused site on Dogpool Lane in Birmingham, the developer Alumno has worked with Writing West Midlands to engage the city’s new poet laureate, Casey Bailey, as Lead Poet on the development’s proposed Poetry Garden.

Bailey has also agreed to run writing workshops with pupils from close by Selly Park Girls’ School, who will contribute to the poetry garden, as well as digital augmented reality projects designed to engage young people in the local community.

“I am excited about the way that writing is being incorporated into this project by developer Alumno, and as the Poet Laureate I am proud to be a part of it,” commented Bailey, who was appointed as Birmingham’s Poet Laureate in autumn 2020 and was previously commissioned to celebrate the reopening of Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall. “I’m also excited about working with the young people in the area to ignite their passion for creativity.”

Commenting on the appointment, Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands, said: “Casey is the perfect choice to work on this project. Just as cities redevelop themselves to fit the future, so a great poet helps us understand our world with fresh language. And not only is Casey going to write some great poetry, but he is going to help young people in the community make their own great poetry.”

Another local creative talent, emerging artist Betsey Bradley, has also been commissioned to design a sculpture for the courtyard of the new building. Although at the early stages of her artistic career, Bradley has been offered her first solo exhibition at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery. Alumno’s Dogpool Lane project will, however, be her first permanent commission.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to make my first commission of public art within the new building at Dogpool Lane,” she said. “It’s an exciting chance to work in collaboration with a brand new space, bringing something unique and playful to it which can be enjoyed for a very long time.”

Commenting on Selly Park Girls’ School involvement in the project, Assistant Headmaster Mr R Turner said: “We are very excited to be working alongside both Casey and Betsey in the regeneration of our local community. We value the opportunity of pupils working with practicing artists and poets to develop their cultural capital and appreciation of the arts. Our aspirational pupils are looking forward to working collaboratively and contributing to the wider vibrant environment.”

Alumno also plans to appoint a local company with links to the local engineering and steel mills formally based in the area to fabricate the poetry artwork for the project. “Overall our aim is to engage local artists, fabricators and the local school to create a new poetry garden around the building entrance and a sculpture commission for the courtyard, which will all be unique and engaging artworks designed specially for the project,” said Alumno Art Consultant Matthew Jarratt. “This is all part of Alumno’s ongoing commitment to enriching the communities adjacent to all its developments and engaging local talent and expertise where possible.”

The new building, which will be the focus of the Dogpool Lane development, will accommodate the growing number students attending local universities and the city’s dental hospital, taking pressure off private housing in the area. It will comprise a mix of cluster beds and single occupancy studio rooms for 167 residents, together with a reception and communal areas. Alumno plans to complete the project for the 2023 student intake.

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