A hip hop artist who has performed at Glastonbury has been appointed as Sheffield’s first poet laureate, hailed as representing the Steel City’s values and diversity.

Otis Mensah was presented with the honorary position by the city’s Lord Mayor Magid Magid at an Off the Shelf Festival event on October 6.

Born and bred in Sheffield, Mensah has gone from strength to strength across the country and globally for his music and poetry, and has a new book titled Safe Metamorphosis.

Magid said: “Otis represents all that is great about Sheffield, he’s dynamic, skillful and radical.

Otis Mensah wants to break down the image of poetry as ‘elitist’. Picture: Will Roberts, Vox Multimedia

“Otis will without a shadow of a doubt help advance and enhance the already incredible arts and culture of the city.”

Mensah said he was ‘surprised’ to be offered the two-year role, adding: “I found it interesting that an aspiring experimental, hip-hop artist could be considered for such a formal position.”

Dubbing himself as a “young story-teller-rapper-poet”, he also said he hopes to break down the perception of poetry as “an elitist, whitewashed art form”.

Otis Mensah performed in front of crowds at Off the Shelf festival. Picture: Will Roberts, Vox Multimedia

He added: “I believe poetry at its core is about communicating imperative messages of emotion.”

Mensah has been widely congratulated on Twitter since the announcement, and will now embark on the unpaid role involving different commissions, workshops and events.

“Sheffield has always had a rich poetry culture filled with fresh, innovative and contemporary pieces of work which has gained local, national and international recognition,” Magid added.

“The appointment of Mensah is my commitment to champion the amazing talent and diversity of the city’s arts scene.”

@ewansomerville

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