Amina Atiq is a Yemeni- Scouse writer, a performance artist, facilitator and activist, awarded the Liverpool John Moore’s University Citizenship for her community engagement work. A Young Associate for Curious Minds and BBC Words First Finalist 2019, she has been featured on various artistic platforms including BBC 4 Radio, Arab News, The Independent, British Muslim TV @thewarehouse, Writing on the Wall. Since the war in Yemen began, Amina has been campaigning with Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Oxfam. Over the last six years she has connected artists and writers directly with Yemeni youth creatives to build a global community. Current work includes being a remote writer in resident with Metal Southend on a new project ‘Yemeni Women on the Frontline’.
Francesca Beard is an internationally acclaimed poet and spoken word artist who makes interactive and transformational work, often in collaboration. She’s written commissions for institutions such as The Barbican, The Tower of London and The Royal Court Theatre. As a facilitator, she’s worked with institutions such as BBC Radio 3, The Young Vic and All Change to create ambitious, public facing, participatory shows by and with communities. She has been artist in residence at The Banff Centre, Canada and The Mixed Reality Lab, Nottingham University. Her solo shows, such as ‘Chinese Whispers’, ‘How to Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse’ and ‘Confabulation’, were made in conversation with scientists and researchers, supported by Arts Council England. She comes from Malaysia and lives in London.
Sharmilla Beezmohun has worked in publishing since 1994, training at Virago and at Heinemann (African and Caribbean Writers Series). For eleven years she was Deputy Editor of Wasafiri, the Magazine of International Contemporary Writing. In 2010 She co-founded Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions with Sarah Sanders; they were joined by Nick Chapman in 2011. In 2010 Sharmilla’s first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la tierra verde. She edited Continental Shifts, Shifts in Perception: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe (2016) and, with Sarah White and Roxy Harris, co-edited A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books (2005). Sharmilla is a Trustee of Carcanet Publishers, Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and the George Padmore Institute, an archive housing unique collections of material from pioneering Black British political and cultural organisations of the last 70 years. She is also on the international organising committee of AfroEurope@s, a cross-continent academic and cultural network.
Jay Bernard is a writer from London and the author of Surge (Chatto and Windus, 2019). Jay won the Ted Hughes award 2017 and was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2020.
Maame Blue is a Ghanaian writer splitting her time between Melbourne and London. Her work has appeared in various places including Black Ballad, The Independent, AFREADA, Storm Cellar Quarterly (USA), Memoir Mag (USA), Litro Magazine and The Good Journal.Her short story ‘Howl’ appears in the New Australian Fiction 2020 anthology, and her debut novel Bad Love, published by Jacaranda Books, was longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize 2020.
Paul Burston was born in York and raised in south Wales. His latest novel is the psychological thriller The Closer I Get (Orenda Books, 2019). His journalism has appeared in many publications including the Guardian, The Times and Time Out.
He is the curator of award-winning literary salon Polari at London’s Southbank Centre, and founder of The Polari Book Prize for LGBT+ writing. Paul divides his time between London and Hastings.
Michelle Cahill is an Australian writer of Indian origin. Born in Kenya, she has lived in the UK and Australia. Her short stories Letter to Pessoa won the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing and was shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Awards. Her honours include the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize shortlist. She was a Fellow at Kingston Writing School, a Visiting Scholar in Creative Writing at UNC, Charlotte, USA, and a Fellow at Hawthornden Castle. Her poetry collection Vishvarupa has been released as a second edition with UWAP. Her essays have appeared in the Sydney Review of Books, Southerly, Westerly and The Weekend Australian. She edits Mascara Literary Review.
Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, and chair of writer development organisation Spread The Word. A poem from his debut collection Ticker-tape was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. A pamphlet, the break of a wave, was published by Offord Road Books in 2019, and he is also editor of The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century (Nine Arches Press). His second collection, Saffron Jack, is published in the UK by Nine Arches Press.
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). afshan has edited many anthologies and has an essay featured in Picador’s collection by Muslim women called It’s Not About The Burqa. 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.
As well as her own writing, afshan is keen to develop other younger and emerging artists and sits on the boards of Manchester Literature Festival and Pie Radio. afshan also sits on the steering committee for Northern Police Monitoring Project, an independent campaigning and advocacy organisation that challenges police harassment and violence.
Born in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is a poet, playwright & performer, graphic artist & designer and founder of: The Midnight Run (an arts-filled, night-time, urban walking experience.), The Rhythm and Poetry Party (The R.A.P Party) which celebrates poetry & hip hop, and Poetry + Film / Hack (P+F/H) which celebrates Poetry and Film. Identity, displacement & destiny are recurring themes in his work, where he tries to mix the old with the new: traditional African oral storytelling with contemporary poetics, paint with pixel, texture with vector.
His books are published by flipped eye, Akashic, Nine Arches, Penned In The Margins, Oberon & Methuen. Inua was specially commissioned to design this book cover.
Aminatta Forna is a novelist, memoirist and essayist. Her novels are The Hired Man, The Memory of Love, Ancestor Stones and Happiness. In 2002 she published a memoir of her dissident father and Sierra Leone, The Devil that Danced on the Water. A forthcoming book of essays, The Window Seat, is published by Grove Press in 2021.
She is the winner of a Windham Campbell Award from Yale University and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and has been a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, the Orange Prize, the Samuel Johnson Prize and the IMPAC Award. Aminatta was made an OBE in the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours list. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and Director of the Lannan Center at Georgetown University.
Photo by Daniel Mordzinski
Gabriel Gbadamosi is an Irish and Nigerian poet, playwright and critic. His London novel Vauxhall (Telegram, 2013) won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize and Best International Novel at the Sharjah Book Fair. He was the AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Fellow at the Pinter Centre, Goldsmiths in British, European and African performance; a Judith E. Wilson Fellow for creative writing at Cambridge University; and Writer in Residence at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. His plays include Stop and Search (Arcola Theatre), Eshu’s Faust (Jesus College, Cambridge), Hotel Orpheu (Schaubühne, Berlin), Shango (DNA, Amsterdam) and, for radio, The Long, Hot Summer of ’76 (BBC Radio 3) which won the first Richard Imison Award. He presented BBC Radio 3’s flagship arts and ideas programme Night Waves and is founding editor of WritersMosaic promoting black, Asian and minority ethnic writers at the Royal Literary Fund.
Richard Georges is a writer of essays, fiction, and three collections of poetry. His most recent book, Epiphaneia (2019), won the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and his first book, Make Us All Islands (2017), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. He is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study and has been listed or nominated for several other prizes, including the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, and a Pushcart Prize.
Richard works in higher education and lives in the British Virgin Islands, where he has just become that nation’s first Poet Laureate.
Colin Grant is an author, historian and Associate Fellow at the Centre for Caribbean Studies. His five books include the memoir, Bageye at the Wheel, which was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley Prize, 2013. As a producer for the BBC, Grant directed several radio drama documentaries including A Fountain of Tears: The Murder of Federico Garcia Lorca. He also writes for the Guardian, TLS and New York Review of Books. Grant’s latest book is Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020.
Photo by Dominic Martlew
Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese British novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her novels include A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and I Am China. Her memoir Once Upon A Time In The East won the National Book Critics Circle Award 2017 and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award and Costa Award. Her most recent novel is A Lover’s Discourse, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020. She was named as a Granta Best of Young British Novelist in 2013. Guo also directed several features and documentaries, including How Is Your Fish Today (Sundance) and UFO In Her Eyes (TIFF). Her feature She, A Chinese received the Golden Leopard Award at the 2009 Locarno Film Festival. She had her film retrospective at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 2019 and is currently a visiting professor at Baruch College in New York.
Fergal Harte is a student and freelance writer. He has written over 100 articles for WhatCulture.com on various elements of pop culture, focussing on film, video games and comic books, mediums which he avidly consumes in his spare time. To date his pieces have had over 3.4 million views.
After he finishes studying he aims to pursue a career in screenwriting; well, that is the plan at the moment anyway.
John Hegley, born 1953, north London, Anglo-French parentage. Schooled Luton and Bristol, graduated Bradford University in the History of Ideas. Honorary Doctorate in Literature, University of Bedfordshire. John Peel sessions with Popticians,1983/4. Perrier Comedy Award nominee, 1989. Presenter Word of Mouth poetry series, Border TV, 1989. Guardian Review resident poet,1990-1995. Pyjama Game musical ‘time study man’ principal 1999, Birmingham, Toronto, London. BBC Online poet in residence 2000. Keats House, poet in residence, 2012. Three series, Hearing with Hegley, BBC Radio 4. Book titles include New and Selected Potatoes (Bloodaxe) and Glad to wear Glasses (Carlton).
Daughter, Isabella. Partner, Mel. Dwelling, London Borough of Hackney. Football team, Luton.
Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, was the winner of the Scottish First Book Award while also being shortlisted for the Southbank Sky Arts Literature Award, Guardian First Book Award, Green Carnation Prize, Author’s Club First Novel Prize and the Polari First Book Award. Kerry’s second novel, Thirst, won France’s prestigious award for foreign fiction the Prix Femina Étranger and was shortlisted for the European Premio Strega in Italy. Her latest book and memoir, Lowborn, takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past. It was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Guardian and Independent Book of the Year. It was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and Portico Prize and shortlisted in the National Book Token, Books Are My Bag Reader’s Awards and the Saltire Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
Joshua Idehen is a poet, teacher and musician. A British-born Nigerian, his poetry has been published alongside Linton Kwesi Johnson and Anthony Joseph and he has performed at festivals and respected venues across the UK and Europe.
He collaborated with Mercury nominated artists The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet and with dance pop band Benin City on ‘Last Night’, released in June 2018 by Moshi Moshi Music. He is working on his debut collection and several musical projects.
AndyJackson has featured at literary events and arts festivals across Australia, in Ireland, India and the USA. His first published book of poems, Among the Regulars, was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, and his most recent collection, Music Our Bodies Can’t Hold, which consists of portrait poems of other people with Marfan Syndrome, was shortlisted for the 2020 John Bray Poetry Award. Andy has co-edited disability-themed issues of the literary journals Southerly and Australian Poetry Journal, and he works as a creative writing teacher for community organisations and universities.
Catherine Johnson lives in Hastings, she has written over twenty books for young readers, her most recent are To Liberty, published by Bloomsbury and Queen of Freedom, published by Pushkin. Other books include Freedom which won the Little Rebels Prize 2019 and was selected as the IBBY Book of the Year in 2020; Sawbones, which won the Young Quills prize for Historical fiction; and The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, which was nominated for the YA Prize. She also writes for film and television; her work includes Bullet Boy and an adaptation of Miranda Kaufman’s The Black Tudors for Silverprint Pictures.
Award-winning reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Jamaica and came to London in 1963. In the 1970s he was in the Black Panthers and worked at the Keskidee Centre, the first home of black theatre and art. Johnson’s first poetry collection, Voices of the Living and the Dead, came out in 1974. In 2002 he became only the second living poet and the first black poet to have his work included in Penguin’s Modern Classics. Johnson’s first album, Dread Beat An Blood, was released in 1978; he has since released fourteen more.
He is a Trustee of the George Padmore Institute and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning. In 2020 Johnson won the PEN Pinter Prize.
Born in 1966 and educated in Gaya, a small town in Bihar, India, Tabish Khair is the author of critically-acclaimed books, including the novels Filming: A Love Story, The Thing About Thugs, How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position, Just Another Jihadi Jane, and the poetry collections Where Parallel Lines Meet and Man of Glass. His studies include The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness and The New Xenophobia. Winner of the All India Poetry Prize, his novels have been shortlisted for more than a dozen major prizes, including the Man Asian, the DSC Prize, the Sahitya Academy Award and the Encore.
An associate professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, he has been a Leverhulme Guest Professor at Leeds University, UK, and has held fellowships, among others, at Delhi University, Hong Kong City University and Cambridge University.
Nazneen Khan-Østrem is a journalist, editor and writer. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, she was raised in the UK and Norway. She has a Masters in International Relations from London School of Economics. Her book, London: Immigrant City, written in Norwegian, came out to rave reviews in Norway last year. It will be published in English translation in June 2021 by Robinson, an imprint of Little, Brown.
Laniyuk is a writer and performer of poetry, short memoir and speculative fiction. She contributed to the book Colouring the Rainbow: Blak, Queer and Trans Perspectives in 2015, has been published online in Djed Press and the Lifted Brow, as well as in print poetry collections such as UQP’s 2019 Solid Air and 2020 Fire Front. She received Canberra’s Noted Writers Festival’s 2017 Indigenous Writers Residency, Overland’s 2018 Writers Residency and was shortlisted for Overland’s 2018 Nakata-Brophy poetry prize.
She runs poetry workshops for festivals, moderates panel discussions, and has given guest lectures at ANU and The University of Melbourne. She is currently completing her first collection of work to be published through Magabala Books.
Nick Makoha is a poet, playwright. His debut poetry collection Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize and nominated by the Guardian as one of the best books of 2017. Nick is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and Complete Works Alumni. He won the 2015 Brunel Prize for African Poetry and the 2016 Derricotte & Eady Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. He was the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for The Wordsworth Trust and Wasafiri magazine. His play The Dark was directed by JMK award-winner Roy Alexander. His poems have appeared, among others, in The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review and Callaloo.
Cheryl Martin, co-Artistic Director of Manchester’s Black Gold Arts Festival, has worked as a poet, playwright and director. She was a former Associate Director at Contact Theatre and Director-in-Residence at Edinburgh’s Traverse. A Manchester Evening News Theatre Award winner as both writer (for the musical Heart and Soul, Oldham Coliseum Theatre) and director (of Iron by Rona Munro, Contact), Cheryl also co-produced and directed an Edinburgh Fringe First winner for the Traverse, entitled The World Is Too Much. Cheryl’s first solo stage show Alaska featured at 2016’s A Nation’s Theatre, and 2019’s Summerhall Edinburgh Fringe and Wellcome Festival of Minds and Bodies in London. Her new solo show One Woman won an Unlimited Wellcome Collection Partnership Award; it will premiere in 2021 at Manchester’s HOME, going on to a national tour including the Unlimited Festival at the Southbank Centre. Cheryl was part of the 2019-2020 British Council Australia INTERSECT programme.
John Mateer has published books of poems in the UK, Australia, Austria and Portugal. Smaller collections of his work – pamphlets, posters, chapbooks – have also appeared in Indonesia, Macau, Japan and South Africa. His poems have been translated into European and Asian languages and, recently, into Brazilian Portuguese and Armenian. As a ‘South African’, his poems have been included in The New Century of South African Poetry (AD Donker, 2002) and Imagine Africa, Vol. 1 (Pirogue Collective, 2011); while, as an ‘Australian’, his work has appeared in many anthologies in that country. His books in the UK are a small selected poems, Elsewhere (Salt Publishing, 2007) and Unbelievers, or ‘The Moor’ and João (Shearsman Books, 2013 and 2019).
E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, a comprehensive collection that represents over forty years of his work. He is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honour. In 2018, he was appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book If God Invented Baseball (City Point Press) was awarded the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Helen Mort is a poet and novelist. She is a five-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Poetry Prize Young Writer Prize in 2008. Her collection Division Street is published by Chatto & Windus and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards and the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her second collection No Map Could Show Them was shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Literature Award in Canada. She has published two pamphlets with Tall Lighthouse press. Helen’s first novel, Black Car Burning, was published by Random House in 2019.
In 2018 she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lectures in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Raman Mundair is an Indian-born writer, artist, playwright and filmmaker. She identifies as a Queer, disabled, working-class British Asian intersectional feminist and is an activist based in Shetland and Glasgow. She is the award-winning author of Lovers, Liars, Conjurers and Thieves, A Choreographer’s Cartography and The Algebra of Freedom and is the editor of Incoming: Some Shetland Voices. Her short film Trowie Buckie was shortlisted for Sharp Shorts 2020.
Raman has been invited to participate in the BBC Writersroom – Drama Writers’ Programme 2020.
Ashleigh Nugent has been published in academic journals, poetry anthologies and magazines. His latest work, Locks, is a novel based on a true story — the time he spent his seventeenth birthday in a Jamaican detention centre. It won the 2013 Commonword Memoir Competition and has received rave reviews in magazines and online. Ashleigh’s one-man show based on Locks won support from SLATE/Eclipse Theatre and Unity Theatre, Liverpool and a bursary from Live Theatre, Newcastle. The show has had very positive audience reviews following showings in theatres and prisons throughout the UK.
Ashleigh is also creative director at RiseUp CiC, where he uses his own life experience, writing and freestyle rap performance to support prisoners and inspire change.
Johny Pitts is the curator of the ENAR (European Network Against Racism) award-winning online journal Afropean.com and the author of Afropean: Notes From Black Europe (Penguin Random House). Translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish, it won the 2020 Jhalak Prize, the 2020 Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing, and is the recipient of the 2021 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. He has presented on MTV, BBC and ITV1, and his broadcasting includes a BBC Radio 4 documentary exploring black identity through the music of his father, who was a member of the Northern Soul group The Fantastics. He currently presents Open Book for BBC Radio 4 and a forthcoming Afropean podcast funded by a grant from the National Geographic Society. Johny has contributed words and images for the Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times and Condé Nast Traveller. His debut photographic exhibition Afropean: Travels in Black Europe was at Foam in Amsterdam in 2020.
Photo by Jamie Stoker
Leone Ross was born in England and grew up in Jamaica. Her first novel, All the Blood Is Red, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and her second, Orange Laughter, was chosen as a BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Watershed Fiction favourite. Her short fiction has been widely anthologised and her 2017 short story collection Come Let Us Sing Anyway was nominated for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and the OCM Bocas Prize. The Guardian has praised her ‘searing empathy’ and the Times Literary Supplement called her ‘a pointilliste, a master of detail…’. Ross has taught creative writing for twenty years, at University College Dublin, Cardiff University and Roehampton University in London. Ross worked as journalist throughout the 1990s. Her third novel, This One Sky Day, drops in 2021 with Faber & Faber.
She lives in London, but intends to retire near water.
Olive Senior is the prize-winning author of eighteen books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Her many awards include an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies, the Gold Medal of the Institute of Jamaica, Canada’s Writers Trust Matt Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her work has been widely anthologized and translated and is taught internationally. Her poetry book Gardening in the Tropics was on the CAPE syllabus for Caribbean schools and has been translated into several languages, most recently Arabic. She lives in Toronto but returns frequently to her Jamaican birthplace, which remains central to her work. Her book of Pandemic Poems which she has been sharing on social media during ‘the summer of Covid 19’ will be published shortly.
Gaele Sobott is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. Her published works include Colour Me Blue, a collection of short stories, and My Longest Round, a creative biography of boxer Wally Carr. Her most recent short stories appear in literary magazines such as New Contrast, Meanjin, Prometheus Dreaming, Hecate,Verity La and the anthology, Botswana Women Write. She is founder of Outlandish Arts, a disabled-led arts company.
Jethro Soutar is a writer and a translator. He translates Portuguese and Spanish and has a particular focus on African literature. His translations include novels from Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea, among them By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, shortlisted for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and short stories from Angola and Mozambique.
He is also a founder of Ragpicker Press and an editor at Dedalus Africa. Originally from Sheffield, he now lives in Lisbon.
Bangladeshi-born Shagufta Sharmeen Tania initially trained as an architect. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in the Bengali-speaking areas of both Bangladesh and India. To date, she has authored two novels, a compilation of novellas and four short story collections. She also translated Susan Fletcher’s Whitbread award-winning novel Eve Green from English to Bengali. Her work has appeared in Wasafiri (‘This Gift of Silver’, Issue 84, 2015), Asia Literary Review (‘Notes from the Ward’, Issue 32, 2016) and the City Press (issue 7, 2019). Currently, she is working on a novel set during the initial years of war-torn Bangladesh, and a fictionalised biography of a celebrated musicologist of Tagore songs.
Shagufta was the recipient of the 2018 Bangla Academy Syed Waliullah Award for her contribution to Bengali Literature.
Jamie Thrasivoulou is an award-winning writer, poet and educator from Derby. His debut collection The Best Of A Bad Situation was published via Silhouette Press in 2017. His second collection Our Man was published by Burning Eye Books in 2019. He was a winner of the Culture Matters: Bread & Roses Award in 2018, and a 2019 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Performer In The UK.
He’s the writer-in-residence at HMP Foston Hall and the official poet for Derby County Football Club. The BBC, National Poetry Day and ITV have commissioned his work amongst others.
Selina Tusitala Marsh (ONZM, FRSNZ) is the former Commonwealth Poet, New Zealand Poet Laureate and acclaimed performer and author. In 2019 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community. In 2020 Selina was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. An Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Auckland, Selina teaches Maori and Pacific Literature and Creative Writing. Selina has performed poetry for primary schoolers and presidents (Obama), queers and Queens (HRH Elizabeth II). She has published three critically acclaimed collections of poetry, Fast Talking PI (2009), Dark Sparring (2013) and Tightrope (2017). Her graphic memoir, Mophead (2019), won the Margaret Mahy Supreme Book in the 2020 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and the PANZ Best Book Design for 2020.
Byron Vincent is a writer, performer, broadcaster and activist. He has a diagnosis of PTSD and bipolar disorder. He performed for many years as a spoken word artist at music and literary festivals and was picked as one of the BBC poetry season’s new talent choices. In more recent years he has turned to theatre, radio and filmmaking, working as a writer, director and performer for the RSC, BAC, BBC and other notable acronyms. Vincent is a passionate social activist with lived experience of issues around poverty and mental health. He has written and presented several documentaries for BBC Radio 4 on the social problems arising out of inequality, ghettoization and mental ill-health. He is currently working on filmmaking and writing a memoir.
Tim Wells is made of reggae, lager top, pie and mash, and Leyton Orient FC. He has been a poet, promoter and historian of all things working class for the past four decades. One of the original ‘ranters’ of the 1980s, he is the founding editor of the poetry magazine Rising. He has worked as a guest poet on Radio London and as writer in residence with Tighten Up, the East London reggae sound system. Recent books include Keep the Faith (Blackheath Books, 2013), Rougher Yet (Donut Press, 2009), and Boys’ Night Out in the Afternoon (Donut Press, 2006), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His first novel, Moonstomp, described as ‘youth cult meets occult in this New English Library style tale of a skinhead werewolf running riot in late 70s London’, was published by Unbound Books in 2019.
Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian spoken word artist, academic and human rights activist based in London, UK. Her performance of poems like ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ and ‘Shades of Anger’ went viral within days of release. Her live readings offer a moving blend of poetry and music. Since releasing her first album, Rafeef has headlined many performance venues across several countries with powerful readings on war, exile, gender and racism. Rafeef’s latest album Three Generations offers a moving and powerful remembrance of Palestine, Al-Nakba, exile, defiance and survival. It is a beautiful testament to the human spirit, to ‘love and joy against skies of steel’.