Malika Booker is a British poet of Guyanese and Grenadian Parentage. And the founder of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. Her pamphlet Breadfruit, (flippedeye, 2007) received a Poetry Society recommendation and her poetry collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre 2014 prize for first full collection. She is published with the poets Sharon Olds and Warsan Shire in The Penguin Modern Poet Series 3: Your Family: Your Body (2017).
Malika received her MA from Goldsmiths University and has recently begun a PhD at the University of Newcastle. She was the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at Leeds University, the first British poet to be a fellow at Cave Canem and the inaugural Poet in Residence at The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Malika hosts and curates New Caribbean Voices, Peepal Tree Press’s literary podcast, and is currently a poetry Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Photo : Siro Micheroli
Afshan D'souza Lodhi was born in Dubai and bred in Manchester. She is a writer of plays and poetry, and was recently commissioned to write and direct a short film for Channel 4 (An Act of Terror) and a radio play for BBC Sounds (Chop Chop). Her debut poetry collection re: desire (Burning Eye Books) seeks to investigate the yearning to love, be loved and belong from desi (South Asian) perspectives. Afshan’s most recent play, Santi & Naz, described as “tender yet sharply political” by The Guardian, puts female friendship against the backdrop of the partition of India and Pakistan.
Chris Jam is a poet, radio presenter and DJ. He is proud to have played a part in innovating spoken word and open mic nights in Manchester over the last 20 years. In 1999, Chris was a founding member of Speakeasy - a collective or poets, singers, DJ’s and dancers. This evolved into an award winning movement where he first explored his vocal craft. Chris has collaborated on projects with AHRC, Coventry, Birmingham and Manchester University and been a contributor to both Wordsmith and Young Identity poetry education organisations.
Jonathan Kinsman (he/they) is a trans poet from Manchester. As well as being founding editor of Riggwelter Press, he is also a BBC Edinburgh Fringe slam finalist. His debut pamphlet & won the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize in 2017 and his second, witness, is out now with Burning Eye.
Esther Koch has been writing and performing spoken word, page poetry and prose for 6 years. She is a slam winning stage poet and as a member of the Mancunian collective Young Identity she has showcased her work at BBC Radio 1xtra’s Words First, HOME, UniSlam, alongside the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the Sounds From The Other City festival and the collective’s own One Mic Stand.
Photo : Mako Photography
Nicole May is an international theatre producer, dramaturg, director and writer. A graduate from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts with a BA (Hons) Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management. Nicole is a trustee at The Royal Exchange Theatre and a member of the UpRisingGM Advisory Board, associate producer and dramaturg at the theatre company Fio and founder of the online spoken-word channel AndWhat TV and Arts Associate for Arts Council Wales.
Her work is studied by students as part of a National Poetry Competition across Germany as an initiative with British Council and Haus für Poesie. She was one of twelve poets commissioned from BBC and Forward Arts Foundation to write the North West Poem for National Poetry Day 2018. Nicole has performed, taught and been dramaturg both nationally and internationally, as part of Young Identity and as a solo performer and practitioner. As part of Young Identity Nicole has worked and performed with writers such as Amiri Baraka, Saul Williams and Roger Robinson.
Shirley May has performed predominately in the North West, nationally and internationally, appearing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York and the Calabash writing festival in Jamaica.
She is the director of Young Identity writing collective, which primarily works with 13-25 years old. Young Identity works in partnership with Contact Theatre. They are Artist in Residence at HOME which is a centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film in Manchester.
Photo : Nicole May
John McAuliffe is a poet and critic, based in Manchester where he is Professor of Poetry at the University. Chief poetry critic at The Irish Times from 2013-2020, he founded and co-edits The Manchester Review and directs The Centre for New Writing and its long-running Literature Live reading series. His five books with The Gallery Press include most recently The Kabul Olympics (2020) and The Way In (winner of the 2016 Michael Hartnett Award), while his translations of Bosnian poet Igor Klikovac, Stockholm Syndrome (Smith Doorstop) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice in 2019. He is Associate Publisher of Manchester-based poetry press, Carcanet.
Photo : Ant Clausen
Owen O'Connor is a writer and producer from Hulme, Manchester. With a style bridged between music and poetry, his catalogue is made up of introspective works focusing on past, present and all the scenery that comes along with it.
Reece Williams is a poet, theatre producer and racial equality campaigner from Manchester. He is a Trustee at Contact (The Manchester Young Peoples’ Theatre Trust), an organisation dedicated to the engagement of young people through the arts, serving as the Chair of the Resources Committee. Reece is the Peer Mentor on The Agency, a project delivered by Contact and The Battersea Arts Centre which empowers young people from economically and socially deprived communities to create projects which foster change.
Reece’s main areas of artistic interest are literature (live and print) and theatre. He has extensive experience as a writer, performer, project administrator and project manager having joined Manchester-based poetry collective Young Identity (YI) in 2007, working with and opening for the likes of Saul Williams, Kate Tempest, The Last Poets and the late Amiri Baraka.
Photo : Faro
Panya Banjoko is a UK based writer, poet and PhD candidate at Nottingham Trent University. Her debut collection, Some Things, was published by Burning Eye Books (2018). Her work is published in numerous anthologies, and her poem ‘They and Them’ featured in Mic Drop, an exhibition by artist Keith Piper at Beaconsfield Gallery, London. She has been artist in residence at the International School, Stuttgart, Jaipur Literature Festival, India, and for the National Trust’s 100 verses at Charlecote Park, in Warwickshire. Panya is a multi-award-winning poet, co-ordinates a Black Writers Network and is patron for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.
Daron Carey is a multi-slam winning poet who performs poems featuring flawed characters with whom he is proud to claim kinship. Drawing on an extended residency in the parlour of hedonism and excess, he emerged with poems reeking of realism, whilst others are served rich in imagery and soaked in surrealism.
Photo : John Berkavitch
Dr Rebecca Cullen is a Poet, Lecturer and Research Fellow in the School of Arts & Humanities at Nottingham Trent University. After careers in teaching in Further Education and in Human Resource management, Rebecca completed an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction at NTU in 2013. In 2014 she was in the first cohort of students to be awarded AHRC-Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership funding for her PhD. During her PhD, Rebecca was awarded the inaugural Midlands3Cities Cultural Engagement award for her work during her placement as Poet-in-Residence at Newstead Abbey, ancestral home of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Her poetry is published in Carcanet’s New Poetries VII and in 2017/18 her debut pamphlet Majid Sits in a Tree and Sings was winner of the Poetry Business International Poetry Book and Pamphlet competition.
Andrew Graves regularly performs his work throughout the UK. He has appeared on TV and radio on a number of occasions being featured on 6 Music’s Cerys Mathews Show, Inside Out and the documentary Evidently John Cooper Clarke. He has released two full poetry collections so far and his third, Not Dancing with Ingrid Pitt will be published by Burning Eye Books in 2020. His first non-fiction book Welcome to the Cheap Seats, a history of working class cinema, was released last year. He has performed with the likes of Sleaford Mods, John Hegley and Henry Normal and has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, BBC Radio 4, Edinburgh International Literature Festival and has recently represented the East Midlands for National Poetry Day.
Photo : Neil Pledger
Ty Healy is the first Nottingham Rapper to cross over into the literary world with his unique fusion of hip-hop storytelling & poetry. After creating an audio album of poems over experimental jazz music Ty gained notoriety by becoming one of the four finalists for the ‘Young Poet Laureate’ of Nottingham, along with releasing a full anthology with the group. Ty’s focus now is to further pursue both music & writing; using both objectivity and personal experience to address world issues Ty has a lot to say! Recent collaborations with established poetry groups promise a heap of new material.
He wrote his poem Quiet in the market square in Nottingham, which was very noisy. He wanted to write a piece that captured everything he saw in that moment whilst trying to find a peace or a calm to frantic activities taking place at once.
Photo : Patryk Czachowski
Ravelle-Sadé, known as ‘A Poetic Perception’, is a self-proclaimed accidental poet who started writing two years ago. Her work mainly focuses on mental health and the power of self-acceptance and self-belief.
A week after writing her first poem, she got invited to share at the very first poetry event that she had attended. Accepting herself and her anxiety, she went for it. An audience member approached her, explaining that the poems had helped to normalise their experience. From that day, Ravelle-Sadé has been actively sharing her insight with hope that it helps others.
Since then, she has gone on to share her poetry at numerous events, such as The NHS, Splendour Festival, BBC Radio, Nottinghamshire Pride and Youth Parliament.
Photo : Zariqa Hussain
Manjit Sahota is the co- founder of Poets Against Racism and a local Nottingham poet; he has performed in number of venues in Nottingham and around the country since 2016.
In 2019 he had the pleasure to host and share the stage with Linton Kwesi Johnson at the Nottingham Poetry Festival.
Manjit formed PAR in 2016 to rally poets, spoken word artist and rappers to use their poetry to challenge the rise in racism and spread the word of unity, humanity and love.
‘Poetry for me is the memory of our history, struggle and resistance’ - Manjit
Aly Stoneman is a poet, researcher, and arts project manager. Her writing explores intersections between landscape, memory and myth, and human relationships with the natural world in a changing climate. Aly was the founding Poetry Editor at LeftLion Magazine, Creative Producer for Poetic Spurn, and a winner of the Buxton Poetry Prize (2015). Her poems have been published in various literary journals and in her own debut pamphlet, Lost Lands. She is a Midlands4Cities AHRC-funded Postgraduate Researcher at Nottingham Trent University (2016-2020) and her PhD, ‘British Contemporary Poetry of Coastal Change’, is practice-led.
Mrs Jai Verma is a poet and writer originally from India, moving to Nottingham in 1971. She is the co-founder and chair of Kavya Rang Multilingual Creative Writing Group, which hosts a series of live poetry events throughout the year and has inspired many to become poets and writers. She is also a director of Nottingham Asian Arts Council and Nottingham Festival of Literature; and a highly active advocate of community harmony through culture. Mrs Verma has published a book of poetry and a collection of short stories, as well as numerous international articles, translated children's Hindi books, and edited an anthology of multilingual poetry. She regularly promotes Nottingham culture in India, and around the world.
Georgina Wilding was crowned Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate in 2017, and is now the Creative Director of Nottingham Poetry Festival, as well as the Founding Editor of Mud Press. She graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2015 with a first-class degree in Creative and Professional Writing. She has performed her work both nationally and internationally at events such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Off Milosz festival in Poland. As well as this, she has been commissioned by organisations such as The Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Radio Nottingham to write and perform, and has been invited to teach poetry for programmes such as the City Arts Refugee Forum collaboration, First Story, and Redhill Academy's specialisms week.
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