Search for poet in residence for our historic gardens

by | Oct 26, 2021 | News & blogs: Arts School, Poetics of Imagination

We are looking for a Poet in Residence for our Grade II* Listed Gardens for 2022.

The position is open to any poet in the UK and will run from January to December 2022. The poet in residence will make four weekend trips to Dartington, one in each season to write a poem about the gardens– winter, spring, summer, and autumn. We will pay a fee of £1,000 and cover the costs of accommodation and travel for four visits. The poems will be shared on the Dartington Trust digital channels, in events at the Totnes Bookshop, and in workshops with students.

Our gardens have been shaped and inspired by the remarkable custodians of this special place for over 1,000 years. Nationally and internationally renowned landscape architects and designers including Henry Avray Tipping, Beatrix Farrand, and Percy Cane played a large part in the development of the gardens in the 20th century. Dartington Gardens are the only example of work by the pioneering landscape architect Farrand in the UK. She was brought over from America by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst to redesign the courtyard in the 1930s. Farrand’s 150th anniversary is celebrated in 2022.

The 26 acres of formal grounds have been developed with a sense of natural wilderness, with a range of stunning features and beautiful vistas, and significant sculptures, including Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure, commissioned especially for the gardens in 1946.

Rich in history and home to some of the most impressive champion trees in the region, the gardens boast a 1,500-year-old yew tree and a line of sweet chestnuts believed to be over 400 years old. Visitors return year on year to admire the stunning burst of colour at the Azalea Dell and the soft muted tones of the 80-metre-long Sunny Border created by Dorothy Elmhirst in 1928, which overlooks The Tiltyard at the heart of the gardens. The gardens are accessible for wheelchair users and there is also an activity trail for children, with hidden paths to explore.

To apply, poets need to send in an example of their work (three poems) plus a covering letter explaining why they would like to become the first Poet in Residence for the historic gardens. We are especially interested to hear from candidates from backgrounds and communities that are under-represented in the publishing and arts sectors, including black, minority ethnic, and disabled candidates.

Poet Alice Oswald and writer Dr Martin Shaw will select a small number of candidates for interview. Both writers are core teaching staff for MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School, which focuses on orality and story. The MA examines the stories woven into our culture from ancient folktales, myths, and fables to contemporary tales and poetry. Students explore what happens when humans imagine and asks what story is trying to be told right now.

We are exceptionally proud of the landscape and are excited to recruit a poet to be able to communicate some of the magic it contains, in a way that only poetry can.

Applications should be sent to The deadline is midnight on 30 November and the Poet in Residence will be announced in December to start in January.

Students currently studying at Dartington are not eligible.