For the Not Quite Right For Us tour we are pleased to be presented digitally under the chapter headings in partnership with festivals and venues aroudn the UK, as well as additional events further afield. This page will be updated regularly as more events are confirmed so do check back for details of how you will be able to join and watch them.

Upcoming Events

Cheltenham Thursday 14 October from 7-8pm – travel

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – travel

The idea of ‘travel’ brings with it the promise of glittering, sandy beaches, adventure, holiday. But that’s for those who are able to come and go as they please: one person’s exploration is another’s exploitation. For many, ‘travel’ has been ‘not quite right’ for centuries, bringing conquest and oppression, inequality and ecological disaster, prejudice and walls to keep out ‘the other’. Hear five authors’ takes on this theme, from a play by Gabriel Gbadamosi (voiced by actors Joe Hughes, Danny Nutt, Owen Oakeshott and Rex Obano) and a short story by Aminatta Forna (illustrated by Rosa Hanson Alp) to poetry by Michelle Cahill, Rishi Dastidar and Rafeef Ziadah.

Watch the film here:

Literature Works, 14 October – live-streamed Bath Spa event

With Joshua Idehen and afshan d’souza-lodhi, hosted by Lucy English and a local poet

Join us for the penultimate stop on Word Online via Bath Spa University library. This event will be a celebration of the spoken word compered by Professor Lucy English. Spoken word poets afshan d’souza-lodhi and Joshua Idehen will treat us to an individual set and will take part in a Q&A. afshan and Joshua will share the digital stage with a student from Bath Spa University, who will read from their own work. This event is open to all!

This event will be live-streamed on Crowdcast, ‘save your seat here.

Norwich, National Centre for Writing, Thursday 28 October – yesterday/today

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – yesterday/today

In these days of restrictions, the quieter, slower pace of the world is a good time to reflect on how our yesterdays have created what we are today. From the personal trials of overcoming prejudice and creating ground-breaking, often lonely, paths, to the political decisions to stand up for equality and make visible that which has been hidden, these are stories of being ‘not quite right’ that need to be shared. The poems of E. Ethelbert Miller (alongside art by Jon Daniel), Andy Jackson and John Mateer and the memoirs of Paul Burston and Olive Senior give us pause for thought as we learn just how much personal and public histories can teach us.

Register for a free place here:

Manchester Literature Festival 1-14 November – work

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – work

Very few of us can avoid working but, even if we do manage to hook that ‘dream’ job, it doesn’t stay perfect for long. Sooner or later, we find we – or the job – is ‘not quite right’ in some way. From the whimsical or tyrannical boss (often the same person), to structural inequality in large institutions, there seems little escape from the workplace blues — even for superheroes. Listen to the memoirs of Colin Grant, Kerry Hudson, Johny Pitts and Jethro Soutar, accompanied by photos from those times, and be surprised to learn about the dark underside of life as a comic-book hero in a story by new writer Fergal Harte (voiced by actor Rex Obano, with artwork by Jazz Dunn).

Find out how to watch here:

Write and Shine Live Online Event Tuesday 9 November 7.30am-8.30am – Writing in Uncertainty (free event) 

Join us for an event on Tuesday 9 November about writing, creativity and uncertainty.  

Sydney-based author and founder of disabled-led arts organisation Outlandish Arts, Gaele Sobott will be in conversation with Write & Shine’s Gemma Seltzer to discuss how to write of the challenging times we’re living through.  

Gaele writes across literary genres, from children’s literature to poetry film, always exploring new ways to capture her experiences in words. In this event, we’ll think about the role uncertainty plays in our writing and how embracing discomfort is an inherent part of the creative process—and of life itself.  

FInd more information and book here:

Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh with Lighthouse Books – Sunday 14 November – friends

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – friends 

Friends, the people we choose to let into our lives, can be a joy and gives us the support we need … but they can also make us feel ‘not quite right’. These are the relationships we continually re-negotiate through life’s twists and turns. Sometimes, we can’t say what we feel, sometimes we swallow the hurt, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Explore how friendship works through the poetry of Helen Mort, Ashleigh Nugent, Jamie Thrasivoulou and Tim Wells, all accompanied by striking images (by artists David Blight, Becky Bryson, Phill Jupitus and Jim Mottram), and in Tabish Khair’s social media-savvy story. 

Find more information and book here:

British Library 15 November – childhood

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – childhood

Our early years should be carefree, stress-free, worry-free. Yet all too often we’re made to feel ‘not quite right’ in some way, whether that’s in the way we dress, the music we like or, more insidiously, because of the colour of our skin. And school days bring their own issues of peer pressure, teaching lessons beyond the classroom. What if, on top of all this, we find the very notion of ‘childhood’ lacking or very different in the place we grew up and the place we become parents? These are some of the complex issues examined by Jay Bernard, afshan d’souza-lodhi, Xiaolu Guo, John Hegley and Catherine Johnson through poetry and prose, film, audio and image. 

The film will be shown on 15 November – book your place to view here:

Speaky Spokey, Brighton 2 December – family – film plus live readings 

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – family

We take family for granted, don’t we? Even when they may be dysfunctional, there’s always the odd memory of some happy moments, at least. But family – whether blood or chosen – can be hard work too. Whether they give us protection – or not – or need protecting from harsh truths, our family histories and stories are inextricably intertwined, for better or worse. Find out how family can be ‘not quite right for us’ through the poetry and prose of Maame Blue, Joshua Idehen, Cheryl Martin, Shagufta Sharmeen Tania and Byron Vincent, accompanied by evocative images and photos (by Sarah Ushurhe, Adelaide Ivanova, Efea Rutlin and David Blight).

Event details to follow.

Past Events

Housmans Book Launch – online talk and films

With Mitch Albert, Sharmilla Beezmohun and Colin Grant

Online launch event – talk and readings plus taster film.

Didsbury Arts Festival, 1 June – online live reading

With afshan d’souza-lodhi

Recording of event to be found here (she reads from anthology at c.19 minute mark): 

Bradford Lit Fest, 27 June for 5 days – love

‘Not Quite Right for Us’: Tales of Love

Featuring Amina Atiq, Richard Georges, Leone Ross, Gaele Sobott and Selina Tusitala Marsh

Love touches us all at some point — from dependable familial bonds to the warm comfort of childhood pets, from the heady perfume of romance to the cherished appreciation of community, culture, country. The physical and emotional connections transcend barriers, cross generations and borders. And yet, love can sometimes be ‘not quite right’, taking where it should be giving, causing destruction — even as we still love. Watch this film featuring authors from the Not Quite Right for Us anthology, where Amina Atiq, Richard Georges, Leone Ross, Gaele Sobott and Selina Tusitala Marsh tell some of the myriad love stories that make up our lives.

Literature Works, 8 July – live-streamed Wiltshire libraries event 

With Cheryl Martin, Gaele Sobott and Nick Makoha

Word Online makes its seventh stop via Wiltshire Libraries.

We are delighted to be hosting writer Gaele Sobott and poets Raman Mundair and Nick Makoha reading and in conversation. This event is a collaboration with Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions. The writers will read work featured in Speaking Volumes and Flipped Eye’s forthcoming anthology Not Quite Right For Us – due for publication in May.

Queensland Poetry Festival 22 August, 6pm Australian EST – poetry – film on Facebook Premiere

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – Poetry 1

Poets have always had the knack of hitting the nail on the head, saying what’s wrong and what needs to change. They know that ‘not quite right for us’ is a way to keep people down, sow division, breed discontent. Telling stories of powerlessness and oppression creates a spirit of resistance and brings real hope of change; words and poetry as a weapon in the battle for better days, for better lives for all.

POETRY 1: Amina Atiq, Francesca Beard, Jay Bernard, Richard Georges, John Hegley, Joshua Idehen, Andy Jackson, Laniyuk, Jamie Thrasivoulou

Ilkley Friday 1 October at 5.30pm – today/tomorrow

Available until 7 Oct

‘Not Quite Right for Us’ – today/tomorrow

‘Whoever controls the past controls the present; whoever controls the present controls the future’ wrote George Orwell in Nineteen-Eighty-Four. We need to constantly look back at history and relate it to today, in order to reach for the stars tomorrow. Although things may have been ‘not quite right’ at one time, or even now, there is always hope — and ways to come together to make a real change. Explore how today and tomorrow collide in poems by Francesca Beard and Laniyuk, and these essays by Nazneen Khan-Østrem, Nick Makoha and Raman Mundair.

Speaking Volumes Presents ‘Not Quite Right for Us’: Tales of Today/Tomorrow

The Artists

Mohammed Ali is an educator and curator and driven by a shared commitment to transform society. Art meets faith, identity and social change in his work, which adorns walls and public spaces and continues to change the visual landscapes of the cities we live in. His art has inspired and informed a new generation across the globe to boldly express their identity and ideals. He isa pioneer in the street-art movement, fusing street art with Islamic script and patterns, delivering powerful and moving messages. Ali’s ethos of ‘taking art to the people’ also combines street art with live performances, installations, digital projections and moving soundscapes. From street canvases in New York, Amsterdam, London and Melbourne to intimate performances in the Vatican, Ali uses his art and collaborations with critically acclaimed musicians and poets to produce unique immersive experiences. In 2008 he established Soul City Arts, a global arts movement bringing together artists, activists and communities. He has been commissioned by international NGOs, corporations and charities.Mohamed’s videography illustrates Rafeef’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Instgram: aliaerosol / Twitter: @AliAerosol

Rosalind Alp is a contemporary artist working in different mediums from illustrating to sculpture, as she believes they offer a variety of ways to tell a story. Fantasy and playful humour are at the heart of all of her work, however challenging the subject matter. Born in England, Rosalind has lived most of her life in West Africa and The Netherlands, where she currently lives and works from her home studio. Rosalind’s artwork illustrates Aminatta Forna’s story on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

David Blight studied theatre design at Wimbledon College of Art and over the decades has designed various plays, musicals, operas and ballets for The National Theatre, English National Opera (ENO) and the Royal Opera House, as well as for smaller and regional theatres in the UK and abroad. David has designed twelve world premieres of new operas; two of his costumes for the opera Greek (staged at the ENO/shown on BBC 1) are on display at the V&A as part of their theatre exhibition. In 2007 he was nominated for a BAFTA for his design work on the eighteenth-century drama A Harlot’s Progress based on Hogarth’s prints, which was produced by Channel 4. David’s artwork illustrates Helen Mort’s poem and Shagufta Sharmeen Tania’s story in the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a poet and visual artist from Trinidad and Tobago. Her poetry has been featured in publications such as Poetry London, The Rialto, Prairie Schooner, POETRY, Small Axe, Bim: Arts for the 21st Century and The Asian American Literary Review, as well as in anthologies such as Coming Up Hot: Eight Poets from the Caribbean and Thicker than Water, both published by Peekash Press. Danielle was named winner of the 2013 Small Axe Literary Competition, the 2015 Hollick-Arvon Caribbean Writers’ Prize and the 2016 Wasafiri New Writing Prize. Her first collection of poems, Doe Songs (Peepal Tree Press, 2018) was awarded the 2019 Bocas OCM Prize in Poetry. Danielle’s artwork illustrates Richard Georges’ poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Becky Bryson has been a practising artist for the last twenty years. She has worked across the UK, from Dunblane to Devon, and internationally in Hong Kong, Norway, Australia, Ireland and Portugal. Becky specialises in large-scale makes for outdoor events. She is an associate artist with world-renowned companies such as The Lantern Company and Walk the Plank, and has been commissioned on projects for Tate Liverpool, Netflix and Chester Zoo, to name but a few. Her illustration work has been used many times to illustrate conferences, events and marketing for organisations, includingthe NHS, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence. Becky’s artwork illustrates Ashleigh Nugent’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Jon Daniel was a British-born, award-winning creative of African-Caribbean heritage who lived in south London. Classically trained as a graphic designer, Jon worked primarily as an art director for many of London’s leading advertising agencies, in a career spanning over twenty-five years. He then worked independently on both commercial and personal projects. As one of the most prominent and recognised black creatives of his generation, Jon was a strong advocate for the promotion of the rich historical legacy of African diaspora people. And when relevant, he took every opportunity to ensure that the ingenuity and innovation of works by people of African diaspora heritage were rightfully recognised by the art, design and visual communications establishment. Jon worked with Speaking Volumes to create the iconic designs for their two Breaking Ground brochures, a design which has been continued by his graphic designer wife Jane Daniel in the Breaking New Ground brochure. Jon’s artwork illustrates E. Ethelbert Miller’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Ria Dastidar, aka Uberpup, works as an illustrator & designer in London. Her commercial work ranges across animation, print and product design for clients such as British Airways, WH Smith and the BBC. Her illustration is characterised by a playful sense of humour, use of bold colour, collage and patterns— all underpinned by digital experimentation. Ria’s artwork illustrates Rishi Dastidar’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Jazz Dunn is a Chicago-raised digital & traditional illustrator, concept artist, storyboard artist & student at Columbia College, Chicago. He works with traditional techniques & practices of art – pen and ink, watercolour painting, pencil illustrations – which he often also combines with digital software (eg Photoshop, Clips Studios and Procreate). Jazz studies the idiosyncrasies of the human form and anatomy, often exaggerating and experimenting with the fundamentals to give his work and extra flare. He uses photo references to create breathable and liveable environments & backgrounds, adding character and life to his art, or draws inspiration from his favourite artists. Jazz has worked with the Art Institute of Chicago, and many small Chicago-based art organisations. Jazz’s artwork, his first international commission, illustrates Fergal Harte’s story in the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.


London based illustrator Karl Frankson has been working digitally using Adobe Photoshop for over eight years, practicing portraiture, landscapes and stylised illustrations. He uses a Wacom Intuos tablet to digitally paint a broad range of subjects, incorporating innovative techniques using programs such as Cinema 4D. Karl’s traditional practice with ink, pencils and acrylics have fed into these processes, while his inspiration often draws on spiritual and esoteric themes. His affinity for the natural world and experience of the human figure enable him to visualise and create a seamless fusion between people and landscapes, to create an atmosphere and form unintended narratives. Karl’s artwork illustrates Leone Ross’ story on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Growing up in Cape Town led Joe Hughes to his first supporting role in the feature film Felix, where he had the privilege of sharing the screen with Dame Janet Suzman. After this Joe moved to the UK to begin his training at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Afterwards he went on to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe with One Word Productions’ production of The Promise. He then returned to training at LAMDA and graduated in 2019. Joe reads the part of Tom, the Purser, in Gabriel Gbadamosi’s play extract on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Adelaide Ivánova was born in Recife in Brazil and is a journalist and political activist working with poetry, photography, performance, translation and publishing. Her poems have been translated into German, Galician, English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. Her texts and photographic work were printed in publications such as The Huffington Post (USA), Marie Claire (BR) and Modern Poetry in Translation (UK) among others. Her photo reportage is part of the collection of Kunst Museum Dieselkraftwerk (Germany), L’arthotèque –Museum of Fine Arts (France) and Galeria Murilo Castro (Brazil). In 2018 her poetry book o martelo won the Rio Literature Award. She edits the anti-capitalist poetry zine MAIS NORDESTE, PVFR! with leftist poets from the north-east of Brazil. Adelaide lives in Berlin, where she tries to earn a living as babysitter, life model, waitress and other alienating jobs. Adelaide’s photographs illustrate Joshua Idehen’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Photo by Pedro Pinho

Phill Jupitus is currently studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. He has been making visual art on a semi-professional basis since 1984 but still hasn’t quite got it right, hence the decision to finally go to art school. He likes the drawing work of Frank Hampson, Laurie Lipton and Ian Dury, and his favourite pencil is the Palomino Blackwing. Phill’s artwork illustrates Tim Wells’ poems on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Born and brought up in Trinidad, Dominique Le Gendre trained as a classical guitarist in Paris, France while studying Musicology at the Sorbonne. London-based for over thirty years, she has composed extensively for theatre, dance, television and award-winning indie films and radio drama for BBC Radio 3 and 4. A former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, her chamber works and operas have been commissioned and performed by numerous UK and international ensembles, including Royal Opera House soloists, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Manning Camerata, the Ibis Ensemble, Metamorphosis Dance and Calabash Foundation for the Arts. Dominique is the Artistic Director of the arts charity, StrongBack Productions. Dominique’s new piece of music was specially commissioned for the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour. /

Jim Mortram lives near Dereham, a small town in Norfolk. Dereham is no different from thousands of other communities throughout Britain, where increasing numbers of people struggle to survive at a time of welfare cuts and failing health services. For over a decade, Jim has been photographing the lives of people in his community who, through physical and mental problems and a failing social security system, face isolation and loneliness in their daily lives. His work covers difficult subjects such as disability, addiction and self-harm, but is always with hope and dignity, focusing upon the strength and resilience of the people he photographs. Jim’s photos illustrate Jamie Thrasivoulou’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Danny Nutt is an actor who trained at Rose Bruford drama school. His TV work includes: Call The Midwife, Doctors, The Bill, Casualty, The Infinite Worlds Of HG Wells, I’m Alan Partridge, Family Affairs, Holby City, Eastenders, Keen Eddie, Footballer’s Wives and London’s Burning. His film work includes: Captain Phillips, The Trench and Velvet Goldmine.Theatre includes: Philistines (NT), Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (Citizen’s Glasgow), Still Life (The Drum), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, To Kill A Mockingbird and Master Harold and The Boys (Leicester Haymarket), Bad Blood (No. 1 tour), Romeo and Juliet (Creation), The Rivals (Compass), Equus (Salisbury Playhouse), Body Language, Knights In Plastic Armour and House & Garden (Stephen Joseph, Scarborough) and Lord of The Flies (Pilot Theatre). Danny reads the part of Mr Jones, the Surgeon, in Gabriel Gbadamosi’s play extract on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Owen Oakeshott is an experienced actor. His theatre work includes: An Inspector Calls (Playhouse Theatre); Witness for the Prosecution (County Hall); The Iceman Cometh (Almeida Theatre); Anthony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, The General from America, Henry VI parts 1, 2 and 3 and Richard III (Royal Shakespeare Company); Copenhagen (Royal Lyceum); Roots (Manchester Royal Exchange); Anthony and Cleopatra (Nuffield Theatre); Market Boy, The Royal Hunt of the Sun (National Theatre); A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Wars of the Roses (Rose Theatre Kingston); Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Guildford Shakespeare Company). His television appearances include: Spooks; In the Name of Love; Armadillo; The Professionals; Bad Girls; The Bill; Birds of a Feather; Family Affairs; Dream Team; You, Me & Them; Doctors and Outlander.He has appeared in the films She’s Gone and The Upside of Anger among others. Owen reads the part of John Knox, the Captain, in Gabriel Gbadamosi’s play extract on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Rex Obano was born in London and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art where he was awarded the 1995 Laurence Olivier Bursary. His theatre work includes: Festen, To Kill A Mockingbird (Theatre Clwyd); The Emperor Jones (National Theatre); Hamlet, Cymbeline, The Spanish Tragedy, More Words (Royal Shakespeare Company); Our Country’s Good (Watermill Theatre, Newbury); African Snow (York Theatre Royal, Trafalgar Studios and tour); The Tempest (New Wolsey, Ipswich); The Wizard of Oz, To Kill a Mockingbird (Leicester Haymarket); The Beggars Opera, Flyin’ West (Orange Tree Theatre); Hamlet, Twelfth Night (Merlin International Theatre, Budapest); Macbeth (Ludlow Festival). His television and film include: Moses Jones, Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown, On the 8-Ball, Tales of The Underground, The Bill, Whacked! and Angell’s Hell; and opera includes Down by the Greenwoodside (Three Mills Island). Rex reads the part of Mr Palmer, the Bosun, in Gabriel Gbadamosi’s play extract on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Daria Oks is a Ukrainian illustrator and animator currently living and working in Poland, who has worked with author Gaele Sobott on previous animations. Daria’s artwork illustrates Gaele’s story in the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour. /

Efea Rutlin is a dreamer. She has designed and illustrated for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ ‘Work it Out’ Campaign and the Black Gold Arts 2020 festival, and is a regular contributor No Borders Manchester. Efea completed an undergraduate degree in politics before realising that an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies might be more up her street. She’s hoping this will allow her to combine ideas about identity, representation and community with a holistic and creative embodiment of those values. She always wants to learn more, past, present, future and who we are throughout it. Efea’s artwork illustrates Cheryl Martin’s poem in the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Instagram: @wip_efea

Monkeys vs Robots Ltd is the studio alias of freelance designer & illustrator Derren Toussaint. A north Londoner based in Spain, Derren has a love of graphic novels, movies and their posters, and is hugely influenced by the design and cultural aesthetics of the Neo-, Retro- and Afro- Futurist movements. He works with clients of all shapes and sizes, handling projects ranging from editorial commissions, album and book covers to game concept art, creating artwork on subjects like sports, fashion, food and drink, music and tech, all with a liberal dash of Caribbean colours. Derren’s artwork illustrates Francesca Beard’s poem in the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Carielyn Tunion is a multimedia artist, content producer and cultural worker, working from a decolonial perspective to promote the social & holistic well being of marginalised peoples and communities. Drawing on her background in video and screen production, Carielyn uses video poetry to explore the impacts of colonialism, intergenerational trauma and recovery. She also dabbles in writing, illustration, pin-making and works as a professional arts model. Carielyn occupies space as an immigrant-settler woman of colour in the matrix of coloniality – and identifies as a Tagalog daughter of the archipelago beyond the gender binary. She currently lives on unceded Darkinjung country. Carielyn’s videography illustrates Michelle Cahill’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour. /

Achim Wagner was born in Coburg, Germany, in 1967. He lives in Berlinand is a poet, translator and photographer. In 2014, Nika Publishing in Ankara issued two volumes of photo reportage: Şiir Sokakta [Poem In the Street], which depicts poetry as a street art and protest form, and Gezi’den Soma’ya Hayat Sokakta [From Gezi to Soma -Life in the Street], which sheds light on the protest years of 2013-2014 in Turkey. Achim has had solo exhibitions at Middle East Technical University (Ankara, 2012), the Goethe-Institut Ankara (2015) Cappadocia Vocational School, Mustafapaşa Campus (2015), Town Hall of Steglitz, Berlin (2016), Bilkent University, Ankara (2017) and NoVilla, Berlin (2019). Achim’s photographs illustrate John Mateer’s poem on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

Photo by Nujoom Alghanem

Sarah Ushurhe is an artist, illustrator and writer. In 2018, her graphic novel-in-progress was shortlisted for both the Laydeez Do Comics Prize and Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition. In 2019, she was commissioned as part of the first round of BBC Arts, New Creatives for her art history moving image and narrative, which highlights the life of Fanny Eaton, a Pre-Raphaelite muse of mixed heritage. Fanny Eaton: The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelite Model aired in 2020 on BBC Four as part of the programme Get Animated! BBC Introducing Arts and also online as part of BBC Arts New Creatives series. Sarah’s artwork illustrates Maame Blue’s story on the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.

The Authors

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’. 

Twitter: @AminaAtiqPoetry

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 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 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 ContrastMeanjin, Prometheus DreamingHecate,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’. 

The Frequency of Magic Tour

Author, poet and musician Anthony Joseph will be animating his latest book for live audiences. He reads from his most recent novel The Frequency of Magic, accompanied by some of the UK’s finest musicians, creating an enthralling performance of spoken word and improvised jazz.

Over the course of the tour, Anthony and his ensemble will perform the entirety of The Frequency of Magic, offering a complete overview of this work whilst promising each audience an entirely unique experience that will not be repeated anywhere else.

Where to see Anthony perform:

22 July 2021 – The Old Church, Stoke Newington, London – buy tickets here

15 September 2021 – Quay Words, The Transit Shed, Exeter – tickets available soon

The Frequency of Magic is an experimental, magical realist story about Raphael who earns his living as a butcher in a hillside village in rural Trinidad. He is also a would-be author, but there have been so many distractions to the novel he has been writing for forty-one years that many of the characters have lost patience and gone off to do their own thing… but somehow the novel seems to write itself. Published by Leed’s-based Peepal Tree Press, the book can be bought here.

In June they went into a north London studio and over five days recorded the whole of the book. The musicians recording and performing with Anthony are Denys Baptiste, Andrew John, Thibaut Remy, Colin Webster, Jason Yarde and Rod Youngs.

About Anthony Joseph:

Anthony Joseph is an award winning Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician. He is the author of four poetry collections and three novels. His 2018 novel Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, and long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. His most recent publication is the experimental novel The Frequency of Magic. In 2019, he was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. In 2020 a Polish translation of his afrofuturist novel The African Origins of UFOs was published, followed by a Spanish edition of Kitch. As a musician, he has released eight critically acclaimed albums, and in 2020 received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Composers Award. HIs most recent album, The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives was released in May 2021. He lectures in Creative Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Produced by Speaking Volumes and funded by Arts Council England.

About the book

This anthology is made up of 40 writers – some we have worked with, others we hope to in the future, all of whom we admire greatly. Featuring poems, essays and stories, the collection is a dynamic mix of established and up-and-coming authors, including Kerry Hudson, Colin Grant, Aminatta Forna, Xiaolu Guo, Nick Makoha, Byron Vincent, Rishi Dastidar, Johny Pitts, Rafeef Ziadah and more, with a Foreword by Pinter Prize winner, the poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Responding to the theme of ‘Not Quite Right For Us’, these are authors whose work challenges the mainstream. Find out more about the authors here.

The book is edited by our ver own Sharmilla Beezmohun, the foreword written by the legend Linton Kwesi Johnson and the cover design by the brilliant Inua Ellams.

The book is arraged in thematic chapters: childhood; family; friends; work; travel; love; yesterday/today; today/tomorrow.

Order Not Quite Right For Us here:

Along with the book, each author will take part in our accompanying event series. Over the course of the year they will appear in at least one online event, in partnership with major literary festivals and long-established partners of Speaking Volumes,

Listen to the Podcast

Friends, the people we choose to let into our lives, can be a joy and give us the support we need … but they can also make us feel ‘not quite right’. From the bonds and ties of friendships that develop over years or decades, to relationships forged in a moment; from the middle of an ocean of people and places to the bosom of family; what happens in moments of disjuncture and what those moments can lead to — good and bad — is articulated in the friendships we continually re-negotiate through life’s twists and turns. Sometimes, we can’t say what we feel, sometimes we swallow the hurt, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Honouring ten years of Speaking Volumes, Not Quite Right for Us is a warning shot, an affirmation, an education … In forty short stories, poems and essays — by turns wry, gentle, furious, humorous, passionate, analytical and elliptical — these forty writers, new and established, speak volumes, invoking their experiences of outsiderness and their defiance against it. In this episode we’ll hear ‘Airhead’ by Helen Mort; ‘I = You’ by Ashleigh Nugent; and ‘Olden Friends Are Golden’ by Tabish Khair. Our guide is stand-up poet, broadcaster and speaker Kate Fox. Not Quite Right for Us is a stellar new anthology which explores the many ways we’ve all been made to feel ‘not quite right’ at some time or another. This episode was recorded in collaboration with Speaking Volumes The anthology is available at all good bookshops, or order from Flipped Eye Publishing InformationMusic composed by Dominique Le GendreNarration by Lucy HannahExtra music & SFX from Epidemic Sound
  1. Friends
  2. Travel
  3. TodayTomorrow
  4. Love

Not Quite Right For Us

Speaking Volumes is immensely proud to have reached the milestone of having been operating as an organisation for 10 years. As a team of three, working part time with no core funding, we like to feel we punch above our weight, having worked with and promoted hundreds of underrepresented writers over the last decade with projects and programmes throughout the UK and around the world. To celebrate this we are so pleased to be publishing our first book. With publisher flipped eye (part of their 20th anniversary list), Not Quite Right For Us: Forty Writers Speak Volumes is available from 21 May 2021: order here:

To accompany the book there is a digital tour – online events curated under the chapter headings of the book. Readings by the authors will be accompanied by photos, video and artwork, many newly commissioned for this purpose.

Explore the book, the authors whose pieces are in the book, the artists who have made new work and the events below. Watch our promotional film about the book featuring all of the writers, and listen to the Not Quite Right For Us podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

Friends, the people we choose to let into our lives, can be a joy and give us the support we need … but they can also make us feel ‘not quite right’. From the bonds and ties of friendships that develop over years or decades, to relationships forged in a moment; from the middle of an ocean of people and places to the bosom of family; what happens in moments of disjuncture and what those moments can lead to — good and bad — is articulated in the friendships we continually re-negotiate through life’s twists and turns. Sometimes, we can’t say what we feel, sometimes we swallow the hurt, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Honouring ten years of Speaking Volumes, Not Quite Right for Us is a warning shot, an affirmation, an education … In forty short stories, poems and essays — by turns wry, gentle, furious, humorous, passionate, analytical and elliptical — these forty writers, new and established, speak volumes, invoking their experiences of outsiderness and their defiance against it. In this episode we’ll hear ‘Airhead’ by Helen Mort; ‘I = You’ by Ashleigh Nugent; and ‘Olden Friends Are Golden’ by Tabish Khair. Our guide is stand-up poet, broadcaster and speaker Kate Fox. Not Quite Right for Us is a stellar new anthology which explores the many ways we’ve all been made to feel ‘not quite right’ at some time or another. This episode was recorded in collaboration with Speaking Volumes The anthology is available at all good bookshops, or order from Flipped Eye Publishing InformationMusic composed by Dominique Le GendreNarration by Lucy HannahExtra music & SFX from Epidemic Sound
  1. Friends
  2. Travel
  3. TodayTomorrow
  4. Love

Discover the Authors

Watch the video

Speaking Volumes at 10

As we approach our 10th birthday this autumn, Speaking Volumes is delighted to introduce you to some of our old and new friends through a series of short readings. Here are some of the wonderful writers we’ve worked with over our first decade – authors of poetry and prose, new and established voices, writers whose work crosses borders and unites in speaking to and about our common humanity. Enjoy these ten films, which give a flavour of the depth and breadth of our work, and look out for news about our plans for the coming decade soon.

Maame Blue: author of Bad Love who worked with us on Breaking New Ground

Ribka Sibhatu: Eritrean poet who was part of the 2012 Poetry Parnassus UK Tour and the 2013 Afro Europes conference in London

TJ Dema: Bristol-based Botswanan poet who was part of the Poetry Parnassus UK Tour in 2012

Your Local Arena – Celebrating Liverpool’s Success

In partnership with Writing on the Wall (WOW) Liverpool and Lucy Hannah

Since our Your Local Arena in Liverpool in May 2020 in partnership with the WOW Festival, which celebrated legendary football managers Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Liverpool’s own Bill Shankly, Liverpool have won this year’s Premiership title. In honour of that, we’re delighted to publish some of the best life writing pieces to come out of our WOW Your Local Arena workshop run by Tony Wailey, as well as share Levi Tafari’s celebratory poem about Liverpool’s achievement.

Poetry – Levi Tafari

Levi Tafari was born and raised in Liverpool by his Jamaican parents. He attended catering college where he studied Classical French cuisine and then entered the world of catering. Attending the Liverpool 8 Writers Workshop to quench his artistic urge, in the early 1980s he started a new career as a poet. Levi sees himself as an Urban Griot, the griot being the traditional consciousness raiser, storyteller, newscaster and political agitator. His work is rhythmic and lyrical; in the past he has teamed up with reggae, soul and funk fusion bands. He has been Writer in Residence at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic and has toured various countries, including the Czech Republic, China and Hong Kong. He has also spent two seasons as poet in residence with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Levi has four collections of his poetry published and his work has been included in many anthologies. He has written a number of plays which have been performed at Liverpool’s Unity, Everyman and Playhouse Theatres as well as at the Blackheath Theatre in Stafford. Aside from this, Tafari also works in education: running creative writing workshops in prisons, schools and universities.

Life Writing from Liverpool’s Your Local Arena WOW Workshop

Alex Blank

A London-based student, Alex Blank has been experimenting with various forms of writing for the past few years. Through prose poetry, journalism, fiction and so on, she’s continuously finding and re-finding her voice. She’s a culture & lifestyle editor and writer for Roar News, and her work has also appeared in publications such as HuffPost UK, Strand Magazine and Heliopause Magazine.

Love’s Mimesis:

Alongside its primary letter, control is the centre of my life; a circle pretending to be open-ended …

J S Dali

J S Dali is a British Tunisian writer who has lived between Tunis and the UK freelancing in the arts sector for over ten years. Currently completing a writing course at Liverpool’s Writing

On The Wall (WOW), her first written pieces will be published in a collective anthology in 2020. Her first self-published guided journal, Tales of i, was released earlier this year and is available on Amazon.


The phone call finally came, everyone was summoned …

Hannah Eynon

Hannah Eynon. From Northern Ireland. Lived in Shetland with her daughter Scarlett. Word reached them from Derry about Scarlett’s dad, Aidy, ending his life. Now they are back in Northern Ireland after feeling too far away. Nicol, my pal, made things better by just having the kettle on.

Although I speak about myself in this piece. Everything happening in Derry surrounding Aidy’s death and what it meant for his friends and family. That was always at the forefront of my mind.

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

A Posy or a Wreath:

I go straight to Nicol’s. I need to order flowers …

Karen Bryony Rose

Karen Bryony Rose is a writer and freelance journalist from Wirral. Her words have been featured in Huffington Post and MetroOnline. She’s currently working on a short story anthology.

The Salt Path:

The scrape of cutlery across plates was deafening …

Brian Wharton

Brian Wharton was born in Everton and moved to Anfield when he was 12. He has dabbled in amateur dramatics, later training as an actor, and has had his plays produced on the local fringe. His biggest success came with his one-man Edinburgh show Footballer’s Boyfriend, a tongue-in-cheek fantasy that he wrote after talking to gay men who were big football fans.


The lad lay on the bed sobbing …

Your Local Arena at Bradford Literature Festival

Your Local Arena was part of Bradford Literature Festival’s online offer with Three Faces of Bradford – showing Arena films about Andrea Dunbar, David Hockney and David Oxtoby. You can watch the response film, listen to the commissioned poems and give the lifw writing workshop a go.

Palette for a Portrait of Little Richard’
by Rommi Smith

‘The Door Handle’
by Adam Lowe

Responding to Three Faces of Bradford

A film of responses from Mary Dowson, Mick Manning, Kat Rose-Martin and Tajinder Singh Hayer.

Life Writing Workshop with Monique Roffey

To find out more about Your Local Arena’s nationwide tour, visit:

Your Local Arena with George Padmore Institute

For our third online YLA event, we partnered with the George Padmore Institute. Watch the panel response film, listen to the commissioned poems and have a go at the Life Writing workshop. Scroll down to read about the original Arena film Caribbean Nights: Poetry which was the basis for these responses.

Caribbean Nights: Poetry — A Contemporary Response

Introduced by the GPI’s Nicole-Rachelle Moore, three poets of Caribbean heritage – Jacqueline Bishop, Hannah Lowe and Dorothea Smartt – will respond to the film and discuss some of its themes.

New and Exclusive Commissioned Poems
Award-winning poets Jay Bernard and Anthony Joseph share their new poems, inspired by the film, in text and audio.

‘Funny Words
by Jay Bernard

‘Funny Words’ by Jay Bernard

by Anthony Joseph

‘Comets’ by Anthony Joseph

Life Writing Workshop

Watch a life writing workshop led by acclaimed author and historian Colin Grant, who uses the Arena film as a starting point to encourage you to write your own memoirs.

It’s hard to believe now that, back in the 1980s the UK had little idea of the wealth of poetry which was and has always come out of the Caribbean. In 1986, the BBC’s Arena film Caribbean Nights: Poetry changed all that, when activist and intellectual Darcus Howe chaired a thought-provoking discussion with poet Derek Walcott (who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992), pioneering reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and emerging poet Fred D’Aguiar.

Caribbean Nights feature in Radio Times

Including clips of seminal readings by the late dub poet Michael Smith and Kamau Brathwaite, one of the founding fathers in the use of Caribbean English in poetry, this film was ground-breaking in introducing Caribbean poets and poetry to a mainstream UK audience. But even now, in the twenty-first century, there is a freshness to the debate, clear insights and, above all, a real sense of the vital need for poetry in our everyday lives.

The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is delighted to be part of Your Local Arena, co-hosting this screening of Caribbean Nights: Poetry from the BBC Arena archives, available for five days only from 11 June 2020. Join the event on the Your Local Arena website.

About the George Padmore Institute

Founded by John La Rose, the late Trinidadian activist, poet and trade unionist, the George Padmore Institute is an archive and educational research centre based in north London which houses unique archive collections relating to the political, social and cultural organisations of the UK’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities over the last 70 years. Collections include archives from the UK’s first black bookshop and publisher New Beacon Books (founded in 1966 by John La Rose and Sarah White) and from the International Book Fairs of Radical Black and Third World Books (1982-95) among others. See


Talking About the Film

Jacqueline Bishop is an award-winning writer and visual artist born and raised in Jamaica, who now lives between London and New York City. She has twice been awarded Fulbright Fellowships, including a year-long grant to Morocco; her work exhibits widely in North America, Europe and North Africa. Bishop’s books include a novel, The River’s Song (2007), two collections of poems, Fauna (2006) and Snapshots from Istanbul (2009), a 2007 art book entitled Writers Who Paint, Painters Who Write: 3 Three Jamaican Artists, and The Gymnast and Other Positions (2015), a collection of short stories, essays and interviews. The Gymnast and Other Positions won the nonfiction category of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. The Gift of Music and Song: Interviews with Jamaican Women Writers is forthcoming.

Hannah Lowe is a writer and academic in London, UK. Her first poetry collection Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection and was short-listed for the Forward, Aldeburgh and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prizes. Her second collection is Chan (Bloodaxe, 2016).  In 2014, she was named as one of 20 Next Generation British poets, an accolade awarded once a decade. She has also published four chapbooks: The Hitcher (Rialto 2012); R x (sine wave peak, 2013); Ormonde (Hercules Editions 2014). (2016) and most recently, The Neighbourhood. (Outspoken Press, 2019). She has been Writer in Residence at Keats House and currently lectures in Creative Writing at Brunel University.

Nicole-Rachelle Moore is a Cultural Educational Consultant and coordinates the George Padmore Institute’s events, outreach and publicity initiatives. She also works with the pioneering publishers New Beacon Books. She regularly consults on a range of cultural and educational issues at schools, colleges and other institutions. She is the Co-Editor of Dream to Change World: The Book of the Exhibition (2018) on the life and legacy of John La Rose. Her areas of research interest are Caribbean Studies and Postcolonial Cultures.

Dorothea Smartt was born and brought up in London and is of Barbadian heritage. She was Poet in Residence at Brixton Market and Attached Live Artist at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, where she was also awarded her first commission to create the collaborative performance from you to me to you. Her solo performance work, Medusa, combining poetry and visuals, was named an ‘Outstanding Black Example’ of British Live Art. In 2000 she was commissioned to write her first play, Fallout, which toured primary schools. Her first poetry collection, Connecting Medium (2001) explores her Barbadian heritage and her experience of growing up in London. Her second collection, Samboo’s Grave/Bilal’s Grave (2008) explores the history of Samboo, an African slave brought from the Caribbean to Lancaster and buried at Sunderland Point.

Commissioned Poets

Jay Bernard is from London and works as a writer and film programmer. They are the author of Surge (Chatto & Windus 2019), which came out of a 2016 residency at the George Padmore Institute. The collection explores the archives relating to the New Cross Fire of 1981 where fourteen young black people lost their lives. Surge has been shortlisted for the Forward, Costa, T S Eliot, Jhalak, Ondaatje and Dylan Thomas prizes. Jay was the winner of the 2017 Ted Hughes award for an early version of Surge performed at the Roundhouse in London, which was followed by a full run at the Albany in Deptford in 2019. Jay’s work has also been featured in numerous anthologies – TEN: The New Wave, Voice Recognition, Out of Bounds: Black British Writers and Place and Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology – and they are the author of three chapbooks, Your Sign is Cuckoo Girl (2008), English Breakfast (2013) and The Red and Yellow Nothing (2016).

Anthony Joseph is a Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician who has been referred to as ‘the leader of the black avant garde in Britain’. As a musician and spoken word artist he has released seven critically acclaimed albums which blend Afro-Caribbean music, free jazz and funk. The most recent, People of the Sun (Heavenly Sweetness) was recorded in Trinidad and released in 2018. In the same year he curated ‘Windrush: A Celebration’, a series of five events which celebrated the literary and musical legacies of the Windrush generation, culminating in a gala concert at the Barbican as part of the London Jazz Festival. Joseph’s novel, Kitch, a biography of calypso icon Lord Kitchener, was shortlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize, the OCM Bocas Fiction Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award. In 2019 he was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. His latest novel, The Frequency of Magic, is just out.

Life Writing

Colin Grant is an author, historian and Associate Fellow at the Centre for Caribbean Studies. His books include: Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and a group biography of the Wailers, I&I, The Natural Mystics. His memoir of growing up in a Caribbean family in 1970s Luton, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for the 2013 Pen/Ackerly Prize. Grant’s history of epilepsy, A Smell of Burning, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year in 2016. As a producer for the BBC, Grant wrote and directed several radio drama documentaries including African Man of Letters: The Life of Ignatius Sancho and A Fountain of Tears: The Murder of Federico Garcia Lorca. Grant also writes for a number of newspapers and journals including the Guardian, TLS and New York Review of Books. Grant’s latest book is Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation.