Opportunity - Undertow: Polylingual Poets Please - DEADLINE EXTENDED

Undertow: Polylingual Poets Please is a development program for young mixed heritage poets interested in working with multiple languages. We are looking to recruit 8 young people from across the UK for a series of workshops and surgeries to help develop them creatively and professionally. This programme will take place over 3 months, September to November 2021.

Undertow is the Poetry Translation Centre’s Youth programme. When the PTC was set up, our founder, the poet Sarah Maguire, made one of our goals to ‘ginger up’ English poetry with an infusion of creativity from other languages. Undertow has created this opportunity with the same goal in mind, to ignite a passion for poetry in many languages by fostering multilingual creativity.

The Tutor

The Undertow: Polylingual Poets Please course will be headed up by Juana Adcock, a Mexican-British poet and translator. She will be helping the young poets develop their work. As well as the creative aspects of the programme we will also be building up practical skills and offering insights into earning you living working in the arts.

The Course

The course will kick off with an in-person day of workshops at our home base in The Albany, London. (COVID Permitting) There will be creative sessions with Juana on multilingual creativity, and workshops on Capitalism for Poets and Navigating White Spaces with leading poets and translators. Over the next eight weeks, the young poets will have a chance to develop their work iteratively through a series of one to one online surgeries with Juana.

Public Sharing

The group will work with the Undertow team to develop a platform to share their work at the end of the course, this could be live, performance, online event or small publication. Importantly the participants will co-produce their public sharing, gaining hands-on experience through the process. The young people will get together for a second in-person day to share their work with one another and finalise their plans for a public sharing, which will take place towards the end of 2021.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for young people between 16 and 26, from diverse or mixed cultural backgrounds with an interest in multiple languages, who want to develop their creative practice as poets or spoken word performers.

If you speak or understand more than one language, or you come from a household where several languages are used, or you want to explore your own linguistic heritage, then we want to hear from you.

Hindi, Urdu, or Farsi, Spanish, Polish or Picard, Gaelic, BSL or Manx, all languages welcome. We are looking for young people from across the UK and we will pay travel costs so successful candidates can attend in-person sessions held in London or elsewhere.

How do I apply?

To be part of the Undertow: Polylingual Poets Please candidates must apply, but we want to make this as painless a procedure as possible.

Applicants will need to answer these questions:

Who Am I? Tell us a bit about you and your background, what you are up to creatively and what your language life is like, as in, what languages you speak, understand or are fascinated by.

Send us 200 Words or a 2 minute video. (Try to avoid doing a cut and paste job. Bullet points welcome.)

Why Do I Want To Do This? We want to know why you are excited about this opportunity and where you would like to go with your creative practice once it’s been given a Polylingual supercharge.

Again, 200 Words or a 2 minute video.

Here’s Two I Made Earlier- Send us two poems, either as text, on video or audio.

Poems must be longer than limericks but shorter than The Iliad. Let’s say 4 A4s, but no more?

(Rather than your ‘best’ poems, the ones that people like, or got published, we are looking for the poems that tell us why you would get a lot out of this particular development programme. So maybe take a chance on some of the more experimental stuff in your drafts folder.)

Hit the big Submittable link below to send us your materials. We look forward to seeing what you have to offer.


The deadline is Monday, August 9th 2021.

What happens next?

Shortlisting will take place over the two weeks following the application deadline. Shortlisted poets will then be invited to have a zoom call with two or three of our staff. To avoid a high-pressure job interview dynamic one of the PTC people on the call will be there explicitly to make the case for you being part of the programme. Overall we keep it friendly.

These calls will take place on the week of 16 August 2021

Why are you doing this?

At the end of the programme, we encouraged a set of Polylingual Poets, young people with the confidence and skills to move forward with their own poetry practise, bringing with them new skills and an expanded sense of the possibilities, not just of language, but of languages.

More about Juana Adcock

Juana Adcock is a Mexican-British poet and translator. Her work has been published in magazines such as Magma, Words without Borders, Asymptote, Kenyon Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, and several anthologies in the UK, Mexico, and further afield. Her poetry collection Manca (Tierra Adentro, 2014) was named by Reforma’s distinguished critic Sergio González Rodríguez as one of the best books published that year. Her awards include the ‘Ten New Voices From Europe’ from Literature Across Frontiers, a year-long writing fellowship from CONARTE in Mexico and a Scottish Artists’ Fellowship at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Canada. She has translated authors such as Gabriela Wiener, Diego Enrique Osorno, Hubert Matiuwaa and Giuseppe Caputo. Her English-language debut poetry collection, Split, published in 2019 by Blue Diode Press, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was included in The Guardian’s Best Poetry of 2019. She has performed at numerous literary festivals internationally.