Our Team

Who we are

Judges & MC

Poetry By Heart is the principal educational initiative of the Poetry Archive. It was co-founded by Andrew Motion and Julie Blake in 2012 and was launched in January 2013. Its fourth iteration happened in 2015-16. All aspects of the website and competition structure were developed in partnership with The Full English, a research-informed curriculum workshop which creates innovative designs for learning about English language and literature. Poetry By Heart is supported by the Poetry Archive staff and led by this dedicated Poetry By Heart team:


  • Andrew Motion – Creative direction
  • Julie Blake – Educational direction

Senior development team (since 2012)

  • Mike Dixon – Editorial, media and the Poetry By Heart blog
  • Tim Shortis – Research, development and sustainability

HQ team

  • Kath Lee – Project Coordinator
  • Lily Owens-Crossman – Project Assistant

Regional Development team

  • Abigail Campbell – Midlands
  • Alison Powell – South West and Professional Development
  • Griselda Goldsborough & Gill Greaves – North East
  • Karen Lockney – North West
  • Mike Dixon – South and London
  • Tim Shortis – East and London


We are also very grateful to have regular and ongoing support from with our financial systems from the Poetry Archive’s Fiona Meadley, with printing and distribution from Peter Griffin and with artwork copyrights from Lucy Drury.

Thanks also to Sarah Wilkin, Lorna Smith and Neil Bowen for additional content research and writing additional poem and to our previous project assistants for all their excellent work: Tom Boughen, Mike Shortis, Jack Miller, Kirstie Orpen.

Sir Andrew Motion – (Chair) 

Andrew Motion was UK Poet Laureate from 1999-2009, and is co-founder and co-director of the Poetry Archive and Poetry By Heart. In 2015 he moved to Baltimore, where he is Homewood Proefessor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent collection of poems is Peace Talks (2015).

Jean Sprackland (Chair)

Jean Sprackland’s most recent collection, Sleeping Keys, was published in 2013. Tilt won the Costa Poetry Award in 2008, and Hard Water was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. She is also the author of a book of essays, Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach, which was awarded the Portico Prize in 2012. She is Academic Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Chair of the Poetry Archive.

Jacob Sam-La Rose (Finals MC)

Jacob Sam-La Rose’s poetry has been characterised as vivid, masterly and carefully structured. He is widely regarded as an indefatigable facilitator, mentor and supporter of young and emerging poets. His collection Breaking Silence was published by Bloodaxe in 2011.

Tim Dee

Tim Dee is a writer and BBC Radio Producer who makes radio dramas and poetry programmes, including Poetry Please and The Echo Chamber. His acclaimed account of his life as an amateur birdwatcher, The Running Sky, was published in 2009. Four Fields, the story of four green fields was published in Autumn 2013. He is now working on one book about spring in Europe, and another about men who watch gulls.

Glyn Maxwell

Glyn Maxwell is a poet, playwright, librettist and critic. His poetry collections, which include Pluto, Hide Now, The Nerve and The Breakage, have all been shortlisted for the Forward or TS Eliot Prizes, and his opera The Firework Maker’s Daughter, for which he wrote the libretto, was nominated for Best New Opera at the Olivier Awards in 2014. Drinks With Dead Poets, the sequel to his popular guidebook On Poetry, is published in September 2016.

Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra’s highly acclaimed debut poetry collection Look We Have Coming to Dover! won the 2007 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the South Bank Show Decibel Award. His collection Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger Toy Machine! was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, as was his latest work, Ramayana: A Retelling, which was published in 2013. He was recently appointed the inaugural Poet in Residence for BBC Radio 4. Visit his website at daljitnagra.com.

Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi is a poet, performer, mentor and Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University. An experienced lecturer in Creative Writing, she has delivered workshops in secondary schools, art centres, libraries, youth clubs and prisons. Her latest collection is Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014), a contemporary version of The Canterbury Tales. It was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and Wales Book of the Year.