William Sieghart speaking

William Sieghart Keynote Speaker

  • Founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry and National Poetry Day
  • Author of bestselling poetry anthology 'The Poetry Pharmacy’
  • Social entrepreneur; Co-Founder and Chairman of Forward Thinking and StreetSmart

William Sieghart's Biography

William Sieghart is a philanthropist and publisher, and former chairman of the Somerset House Trust.

William has had a long career in the arts. In 1991 he founded the Forward Prizes for Poetry, the nation’s leading prizes now in their 30th year. In 1993 he started National Poetry Day, an annual celebration of poetry, with the BBC. National Poetry Day is the BBC’s longest standing arts partnership after the Proms.  In 2016 he authored The Poetry Pharmacy, the best-selling poetry anthology of the last twenty-five years.

William has toured the country, listening to thousands of people’s problems one on one and prescribing poems and poetry prescriptions for them. He is an inspirational speaker whose platforms have included talks for TEDx, 5×15, literary festivals and corporate events.

William has been a successful entrepreneur, founding Forward Publishing, a magazine publishing company, publishing 80 million magazines a year around the world when he sold it to WPP in 2001. In 2000 he started Streetsmart, a homeless charity that raises its funds by restaurants around the country adding £1 to their bills in November and December. Streetsmart has so far raised over £11m in £1 donations. In 2005 William started Forward Thinking, now one of the world’s leading conflict mediation agencies that works between governments across the Middle East and North Africa. Until December 2021 William was chairman of Somerset House, turning it into the UK’s biggest creative community. Somerset House is one of London’s most visited attractions with as many visitors as the Tower of London.

William has served on the boards of many public institutions and charities including the Arts Council, where he chaired their lottery board for five years, the Royal Society of Arts and the Arts Foundation, which he chaired for 15 years, giving out fellowships to the nation’s most talented young artists. William has conducted two reviews for the UK government on the future of public libraries, hosted a weekly politics show on Bloomberg TV for three years and has been a regular broadcaster on tv and radio, including an appearance on Radio 3’s Private Passions. He has also been a regular interviewer of writers, artists and politicians amongst others, and is a great listener, having listened to the problems of thousands of people since the conception of the Poetry Pharmacy.

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William Sieghart's Speaking Topics

• The Healing Power of Poetry

How poetry can help you through life’s difficulties at home and at work

• Emotional Intelligence

How putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can turn you into a better manager and a more productive person

• Conflict mediation

Your day-to-day survival - lessons learned from twenty years of frontline conflict mediation in the Middle East’

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Videos of William Sieghart

The Healing Power of Poetry | William Sieghart | TEDxOxford
The Healing Power of Poetry | William Sieghart | TEDxOxford
William Sieghart on Poetry
William Sieghart on Poetry

Articles, Media & Podcasts

Books by William Sieghart

The Poetry Pharmacy book cover
The Poetry Pharmacy
The Poetry Pharmacy Returns book cover
The Poetry Pharmacy Returns

Comments & Testimonials

“Your every word was hung upon. It was one of the most memorable evenings we have had in 30 years”
Client Lunar Club
“That’s the most intellectually stimulating conversation I’ve heard in a very long time. I will listen to it again tonight (and again and again)”
Sophie A Penguin Random House Australia
“You gave the best TEDx talk of all. Thank you, it was an inspiration”
President TedX

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