10 July 2023

Julia Bird has today been announced as new Executive Director of Poet in the City, appointed following a competitive recruitment process.

Julia, currently Learning and Engagement Manager at the Poetry Society, will step into the role as Poet in the City’s first Executive Director – the third leader of the organisation since gaining its independent charity status in 2006.  

Her appointment follows the resignation of CEO Isobel Colchester in January after ten years at the helm.

During her career, Julia has worked in theatres, galleries and arts centres – but her arts management specialism is the poetry organisation. Her first poetry role was at the Poetry Book Society where she promoted new publications and worked on the T S Eliot Prize. She then worked as a programmer at the Poetry School, creating a curriculum of courses and workshops to develop poets’ craft and professional skills. Through her own production company Jaybird Live Literature, she has devised and toured poetry shows to theatres and festivals throughout the UK. Combining page poets with theatrical direction and production techniques, Jaybird fostered the performance skills of poets ranging from Queen’s Gold Medal winners to emerging writers publishing their first pamphlets.

She comes to Poet in the City from The Poetry Society, where, as the Learning and Participation Manager, has led the education team and worked on projects including the Canal Laureateship, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and ‘Where Light Falls’, a collaboration with Historic England which projected poetry animations on to the walls of St Paul’s and Coventry Cathedrals. Julia is the author of four collections of poetry and the co-author of two poetry/art/essay collections.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Lennie Goodings today welcomed the appointment: 

"Julia is a nationally recognised and experienced leader in the poetry sector, with established connections to a wide range of UK literature and arts organisations. The Board of Trustees and I are delighted with her appointment. The team is poised for greatness and we believe, in Julia Bird, we have a brilliant leader and an experienced and visionary Director who will take our ambitious poetry charity to an exciting new phase. 

I also want to give heartfelt thanks to our Interim Leader, Katie Matthews, who has done so much more for us than merely holding the reins. We are grateful to her."

Julia also said: 

"I am thrilled to be taking up the role of Executive Director of Poet in the City, an organisation I have long admired for its ambitious programming and its understanding of poetry’s role in our social and civic life. Over the coming months, I am looking forward to deepening my knowledge of the organisation, its projects and people. Poetry, for me, has always been a way to think, know and act. I see Poet in the City as a cultural space where our audiences, artists and team develop their thoughts, knowledge and actions together through deep engagement with the language. I can’t wait to start collaborating to build intriguing, change-making programmes to serve poetry's many communities."

Julia will take up her appointment at Poet in the City in mid August.