St. Paul’s Round Table Discussion

As mentioned in this post, I was asked to take part in a discussion about reclaiming London landmarks through art and how we can make young people feel like the city is their own.

It was great to be in a room with so many different groups, about six or seven collectives from around London were represented in total. There was a lot of discussion about the role of the Cathedral in London life and how the intersecting factors of race, religion, class and gender (to name a few) have conspired to keep London’s famous places out of the hands of its citizens.

We talked a lot about community engagement – how do we get people from the local area (ie. Hoxton/Shoreditch/Bethnal Green/Mile End, not the City of London) to use St. Paul’s as a venue for their cultural performances and exhibits?

I don’t have an easy answer except to say that whatever it is will require a lot of work. I hope something constructive will come of these discussions. Before I left the Cathedral, I got chatting to the chaplain who was on duty that day – she was an elderly vicar from Hackney who does one day a month helping in the Cathedral. We chatted for almost an hour about theology and art and how the two can and should come together to shine a light on injustice and hold up examples of goodness in the world. I am not religious but we found a lot to talk about and her views on many things surprised me – she was of the opinion that the Church had failed to act as Christ would have acted by shutting the doors to the Occupy protesters. She proceeded to tell me that the Cathedral walked a fine line between remaining spiritual and remaining open (it receives no government funding so relies entirely on donations and ridiculous entry fees). We discussed how art that presses on those cracks might be useful.

She’s invited me to her parish church to have a look around, chat some more and maybe even do an artistic project within her community!


By Cameron Holleran - Poet, Facilitator and Performer

I only started to get into poetry in Sixth Form where I had some wonderful teachers who put me onto Tony Harrison and John Agard – they were two poets that just stuck in my head as people using the language that they spoke to create poetry. With Harrison, we'd looked at V and it wasn't the swearing that resonated with me, it was the fact he'd used the word 'mam'.

Between that a lifelong love of music, I just really loved using words in different ways and having fun with language. I felt brave enough after a few months of writing to try giving performing ago, so started doing open mics around Manchester (I'm from Salford) in 2009 and won some local slams.

When I moved to London in 2011, my mental health took a bit of a dive and I couldn't deal with performing again. In 2014, I'd got talking to a friend on my degree course (who was and remains an amazing and accomplished poet) and showed her some of my writing – she encouraged me to apply for the Barbican Young Poets and I got on and was part of the programme from 2014 to 2016. BYP was an incredible experience and remains one of the happiest periods of my life and I made lots of new friends and came on a lot as a poet, thanks to the support and mentoring of Jacob Sam-La Rose, Kayo Chinonyi, Jasmine Cooray, and Rachel Long

In that time, I performed at a lot of venues in addition to the Barbican Centre, including the Southbank Centre, People's Palace, Rich Mix and Tate Modern, as well as a number of festivals such as Curious Festival (where I wrote a poem in Anglo-Saxon which was backed by a jazz quartet), the Barbican Weekender, Walthamstow Garden Party. I was part of the team responsible for curating National Poetry Day 2014 at the Southbank Centre, performed at Inua Ellams RAP Party, and worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on a commission which formed part of the the BBC's Centenary commemorations.

I've been published in a few places such as the Barbican anthologies, Watermarks anthology and Marble Poetry, longlisted for the erbacce prize, and nominated for the first Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.

I am the current poet-in-residence for the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL. My work here is used to highlight and complement the research that is being done by the institute, providing a different way for people to interact with their work.

Other things that are important to know about me are that I'm non-binary (they/them/their pronouns), I love cats and Pepsi, and I like to box.

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