Our Founder

Simon Rhys Powell 1952-2009

Simon Powell, the founder of Poetry Live!, died on 25 October 2009 after surviving cancer for ten years.

It was Simon’s passion and energy that drove Poetry Live! to make great poetry accessible to hundreds of thousands of students over the years.

He is sorely missed, but as Germaine Greer wrote of him, “Simon’s memorial is Poetry Live!” Every event we take part in is really a tribute to him, a continuation of his work and his great spirit.

He was always a great champion of new poetry, which is why we have named our annual poetry competition in his memory.

After Simon’s death, hundreds of people wrote to pay tribute to him, including playwright Willy Russell:

“Over the years and in many places I have sung his praises, extolled his great gifts and lauded the brilliant simplicity of the thinking that lay behind his huge achievements. All kinds of people can come up with big ideas – most of those ideas overdressed, overblown and ultimately proven not big at all. Simon, though, had the gift of finding the great in the simple and tenaciously holding on to the uncomplicated, the uncluttered, the clear idea. So many many people have reason to be grateful to a great man.”