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CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

BREAKING GROUND

BREAKING GROUND: CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

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BREAKING GROUND

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CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR


FOREWORD

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

BREAKING GROUND

“As a young man in 1970s London, I first discovered black writers when I joined the Black Panthers, reading African American writers such as W E B DuBois and poets including Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes. Through them, I learned that black people’s stories could be written by black people themselves. I was also lucky enough to be taken to New Beacon Books and met its co-founder John La Rose, the Trinidadian activist, poet and trade unionist. He and Jamaican writer Andrew Salkey became my two mentors as I tried to find my own voice through poetry. A little later, working at the Race Today Collective, I would meet C L R James, the Trinidadian intellectual and thinker, who became another mentor; and also start to find British black and Asian writers whose work, like mine, was articulating our experiences in the UK. I published many of the poets I came across then during my time as poetry editor at Race Today. Over 40 years later, it is heartening to see that many strides have been made in the fight for racial equality and social justice in British society and that the arts are more diverse than ever. Nonetheless, there is more to do, particularly in publishing, where there is insufficient diversity in the workplace and on booklists. Such work needs to build on the achievements of those early pioneers — New Beacon; my first publisher, Eric and Jessica Huntley at Bogle L’Ouverture; Allison & Busby and others. The Breaking Ground initiative does just that, working with people across the industry to provide support for British writers of colour. It enables those artists to concentrate on their work, knowing that they have not just individuals batting for them, but a whole network of committed professionals who will nurture and support them now and in the future.” Linton Kwesi Johnson, 2017

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

‘WHY IS SPEAKING VOLUMES BREAKING GROUND?’ These are times of change and challenge. As nations look to erect barriers and borders, intolerance of others grows and the diverse landscape that many people had taken for granted seems under threat. These are the circumstances which have given rise to Breaking Ground. Highlighting 200 contemporary British writers of colour, the Speaking Volumes Breaking Ground brochure is an indispensible guide to the wealth and depth of diverse writing talent on our doorstep. From crafted literary fiction to breathtakingly brilliant horror, fantastic futuristic sci-fi to powerful and lyrical poetry, striking graphic novels to humorous chick lit, the UK’s black, Asian and minority ethnic writers – of all ages and backgrounds – are writing the world, despite and because of the times. It marks a transformation within just four generations when Norman Samuda Smith’s pioneering 1982 book Bad Friday was the first novel published by a black writer born and raised in the UK. Today’s diverse British writers are backed by publishing houses, both new and established, which are committed to highlighting writers of colour — from Peepal Tree Press, formed 32 years ago, to more recent ventures such as Jacaranda, flipped eye and Hope Road Publishing to name but a few. So why is Breaking Ground needed? Back in 2013, Speaking Volumes curated a series of cultural events at the fourth AfroEuropes conference in London, bringing a range of Black British and European writers to the attention of international audiences, most of whom had never heard of the artists on stage. Particularly interesting were our American colleagues who, despite Obama’s US Presidency, had little knowledge or awareness of the artistic production of the UK’s minority ethnic populations. Our response was the first iteration of Breaking Ground. In 2015-16 we took ten Black British writers to America’s East and West coasts to perform in twenty events at various locations. The success of those – enthused and animated audiences, healthy book sales, the lasting relationships and networks which have been formed since – were testament to the need for this kind of active intervention abroad. In the UK, in 2016 we witnessed the 50th anniversaries of two pioneering organisations in Black British history: New Beacon Books, the UK’s first black bookshop and publisher, and the Caribbean Artists Movement. New Beacon has been a constant hub of black political and cultural activism in Britain since 1966 and paved the way for many other visionary independent grassroots structures to develop — whether black arts organisations like Creation for Liberation, publishers and publications from Bogle L’Ouverture and Hansib to Wasafiri magazine or theatre companies such as Talawa and Tara 4


CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

BREAKING GROUND

Arts. Those endeavours undoubtedly contributed to the rise of subsequent generations of diverse British artists — actors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, dancers, poets. Yet 2016 also marked the moment when New Beacon announced plans to close, indicating the difficult current climate for UK independent bookshops and small presses. Add to this the 2015 Spread the Word report Writing the Future: Black and Asian Writers and Publishers in the UK Market Place, which reveals there is still a lot to be done to achieve parity with white writers and employees in the British publishing industry. Despite the great progress within four generations, the playing field is clearly not yet level. Our Breaking Ground brochure showcases some of the most exciting diverse writers around the UK today, but we have of course had to make difficult choices along the way. Missing are those whose work already has a global reach: Kazuo Ishiguro, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hanif Kureishi, Ben Okri, Caryl Phillips, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Benjamin Zephaniah. We have also omitted some writers who, though resident in the UK, may find it incongruous to be labelled ‘British’ as they came here as adults, for example, Kei Miller and Vahni Capildeo (whose recent major literary awards will no doubt propel them to greater international recognition than at present). And there were those - Aminatta Forna and Andrea Levy to name but two - whose writing careers are already so busy or established that they asked us to give newer writers a space instead. So who have we included? We have endeavoured to ensure a gender balance and a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, classes, ages. We have also included people at different stages of their careers, some of whom may be little known and who have yet to publish a book but who command serious attention through performance. All of the writers in the brochure, though, produce stimulating and quality work that should be seen and heard. Wherever you are, whether you are publishers or book lovers, programmers or festival directors, academics or students, translators or venues, the local or the global, our Breaking Ground booklet will enable you to discover the sparkling depth and breadth of today’s British black, Asian and minority ethnic writing talent — and to spread that knowledge far and wide. For, beyond these stylish pages, the Speaking Volumes Breaking Ground project is more than just reading material: we are putting these writers on the stage, onto the translated page, into bookshops and venues and universities around the world. Because Britain’s diverse writers speak volumes and, in these times of change and challenge, their voices need to be heard. Sharmilla Beezmohun, Sarah Sanders and Nicholas Chapman, Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions 5


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CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR


CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

BREAKING GROUND

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Leila Aboulela

H Diran Adebayo

Leila Aboulela was born in Cairo and grew up

Diran Adebayo is a novelist, short fiction

in Khartoum. Her latest book, The Kindness

writer and cultural critic known for his stylish,

of Enemies, is an epic of love and betrayal,

inventive tales of London and the lives of

reconciliation and war moving between

African diasporans. His debut novel, Some

present-day Scotland to the court of the

Kind of Black, won the 1996 Saga Prize and

Russian Tsar. All three of her previous novels,

a Betty Trask Award. His second novel was

The Translator, Minaret and Lyrics Alley, were longlisted for the Orange Prize.

the ‘neo-noir fairytale’ My Once Upon a Time. He has written for television and

Lyrics Alley won Novel of the Year at the Scottish Book Awards and was

radio, including the 2005 documentary Out of Africa (BBC 2). Media appearances

shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, while Aboulela’s collection

include Newsnight, The Culture Show and the Today programme. He was a 2003

of short fiction, Coloured Lights, won the Caine Prize for African Writing. She

Times Literary Supplement Best Young British Novelist and is a Fellow of the

lives in Aberdeen.

Royal Society of Literature (2006). He is a lecturer in creative writing at Kingston

www.leila-aboulela.com

University and is working on a memoir, Random, and Cricket. www.diranadebayo.com/ Twitter @AdebayoDiran

H C C Adams

H Adisa

C C Adams is a native Londoner and author

Adisa is a London-based poet who has

of horror and dark fiction; work that leans

performed widely, from pubs and theatres

more towards pace and atmosphere rather

to Buckingham Palace and from festivals to

than shock and gore. On his first attempt

schools and day centres for senior citizens.

for National Novel Writing Month in 2009,

He has been a Hackney Poet Laureate and a

beating the challenge with a day to spare

winner of New Performance Poet of the Year.

gave him the confidence to take his writing further. While his stories are

He has toured England with his one-person show, 1968 - The Year That Never

primarily based in the capital, some are based in other locations such as

Ended, and has also performed in Switzerland, Botswana, Italy, Nigeria and

the USA and Canada. These stories have appeared in publications such as

Sweden. As a workshop facilitator he aims to make poetry and performance

the Crossroads In The Dark anthologies from Burning Willow Press and the

accessible to all. Adisa’s book Lip Hopping With The Fundi-Fu was published

eponymous weird/horror-zine Turn To Ash. A member of the Horror Writers’

in 2010 and his poetry has been featured in various anthologies.

Association, his work also garnered the 2015 Honourable Mention for Short

www.adisaworld.com/

Fiction from the Australian Horror Writers Association.

Twitter @Adisapoet

www.ccadams.com/ Twitter @MrAdamsWrites 8


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H John Agard

H Patience Agbabi

John Agard was born and educated in Guyana

Patience Agbabi was born in London in

and moved to the UK in 1977. His collections

1965 and educated at Oxford and Sussex

for young readers include The Young Inferno, a

Universities. She has performed her poetry

teenage spin on Dante’s Inferno and Goldilocks

live, on TV and radio all over the world.

On CCTV, inspired by fairy tales (both published

Her work has also appeared on the London

by Frances Lincoln Publishers); and Einstein,

Underground and human skin. She has

The Girl Who Hated Maths and Hello H20, both illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura

lectured in creative writing at several UK universities, including Greenwich,

(Hodder Children’s Books). His adult collections, published by Bloodaxe Books,

Cardiff and Kent, and is currently Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes

include Alternative Anthem, Clever Backbone, Travel Light Travel Dark and his

University. She was Canterbury Laureate from 2009 to 2010. Telling Tales

latest, Playing The Ghost Of Maimonides. His first non-fiction, entitled BOOK,

is her fourth poetry collection. She lives in Kent with her husband and two

tells the history of the book in the voice of the book. His awards include the

children.

Casa de las Americas Poetry Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Award, the Guyana Prize

http://www.renaissanceone.co.uk/patience-agbabi

and the 2012 Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry. www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/category/john-agard Twitter @JohnAgard1

Twitter @PatienceAgbabi

H Dev Agarwal

H Tolu Agbelusi

Dev Agarwal is a science fiction and fantasy

Born and raised in Nigeria, Tolu is based in

writer. His work has been published online

London and is a poet, playwright, performer

and in magazines including Albedo One,

and lawyer known for tackling difficult topics.

Aofie’s Kiss, Hungur and Aeon. His fantasy

Tolu produced the highly acclaimed poetry

draws on ancient history, in particular the

and visual arts project Home Is in 2016 which

ancient Roman world, while his SF is set in

saw illustration, theatre, animation and dance

the near future and explores technology and its potential for radical change to

collaborating with poetry around the theme of home and displacement. Her

society and daily living. He has attended the Clarion West Writing Workshop

play Ilé la Wà, which also showcased her acting skills, was hailed a ‘searing

in Seattle and Arvon in Devon. Dev is also the editor of Focus, the magazine

soulful and scathing production’ and ‘a terrific debut’. Tolu facilitates poetry

for genre writers produced by the British Science Fiction Association, and has

workshops and has performed widely around the UK including as part of

used Focus to bring forward new voices to a genre audience. Dev’s writing

Theatre Royal Stratford’s Home Theatre UK 2015. She has been commissioned

seeks to explore different cultures and bring them to a wide audience.

by the IWM, Pathways etc and published internationally in Mourning Glory

Twitter @Dev_Agarwal

Publishing’s anthology, After Ferguson, In Solidarity. www.ToluAgbelusi.com Twitter @ToluAgbelusi 9


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Zainab Ahktar

H Ahsan Akbar

Zainab Akhtar is an Eisner award-nominated

Ahsan Akbar was born in London and grew up

writer based in West Yorkshire, UK. Her

in Dhaka before moving back to the UK at the

journalism and criticism, centred on the

age of 16. He studied at Exeter and has worked

medium and culture of comics, has been

as a vinyl record seller, bookseller and equities

published in The Guardian, Publisher’s

trader in the City and south-east Asia. His

Weekly, The AV Club and The Fader, in

debut poetry collection, The Devil’s Thumbprint,

addition to her own site, Comics & Cola. A former professional librarian, she

is on the English literature curriculum at SOAS, University of London. He has

is founder and curator of ShortBox, an independent, quarterly comics box

written for the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Dhaka Tribune

that brings together diverse international artistic talent, and creator/editor of

and curated special issues for Granta and Wasafiri. Akbar is a director of Dhaka

Critical Chips, a contemporary collection of essays examining the many facets

Literary Festival, (previously Hay Festival Dhaka), co-founder and director of

of the medium. She is currently working on a longform guide to comics.

London-based PR boutique Zephyr: Media and a board member of Bengal Lights

www.comicsandcola.com/

in Bangladesh. He divides his time between London and Dhaka.

Twitter @comicsandcola

www.ahsanakbar.com/ Twitter @kobial

H Rukhsana Ahmad

H Monica Ali

Rukhsana Ahmad is a writer, translator and

Monica Ali has been named by Granta as one

playwright. She has written and adapted

of the 20 best young British novelists. She is

several plays for stage and the BBC, including:

the author of Brick Lane, an epic saga about

River on Fire (Finalist, Susan Smith Blackburn

a Bangladeshi family living in the UK, which

International Award); Wide Sargasso Sea

explores the British immigrant experience. It

(Finalist, Writers Guild Award for Best Radio

was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize

Adaptation); and Song for a Sanctuary (Finalist, CRE Award, best original radio

and made into a film in 2007. Her second novel, Alentejo Blue, set in Portugal,

drama). Her publications are The Hope Chest (Virago) and The Gatekeeper’s Wife

was published in 2006, and her third, In the Kitchen, in 2009. Her latest novel

and other stories (ILQA). Her stories appear in: Right Of Way, The Inner Courtyard,

is Untold Story (2011). The daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents,

Flaming Spirit, Walking A Tight Rope (UK); Leaving Home, Dragonfly In The Sun

she came to England aged three, her first home being Bolton in Greater

(Pakistan); City Of Sin And Splendour (India); And The World Changed (USA);

Manchester, and later studied at Oxford University. Monica Ali lives in London.

Storywallah (Canada). Rukhsana co-founded and led Kali Theatre Company for

www.simonandschuster.co.uk/authors/Monica-Ali/18854757

several years. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at QMUL. Twitter @Rukhsanamahmad 10


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Javaad Alipoor

H Muli Amaye

Javaad Alipoor is a writer, theatre maker and

Muli Amaye was born in Burnage,

political activist of Iranian and English heritage.

Manchester. She went to Manchester

He is Associate Director at Sheffield’s Crucible

Metropolitan University in 1998 to study

Theatre. His recent play, The Believers Are But

English, where she discovered a love of

Brothers, explores islamophobia, the crisis of

writing. An MA in creative writing followed

masculinity and the rise of ISIS in Syria, and

and, after a two-year break working in the

is touring nationally and internationally. Javaad writes spoken word poetry and

community, she began a PhD in creative writing at Lancaster University. She

has performed nationwide. His first pamphlet, The People Want (Arts In Unusual

teaches creative writing there and also runs workshops throughout Greater

Places), was based on the Arab Spring. Javaad’s writing on politics and artistic

Manchester, working in schools and community settings. Muli’s writing

and social theory regularly appears on his blog and in the media (The Stage, Arts

interests are centred around Manchester, migration, memory and notions of

Professional). His essays and short stories have been published in journals and

home, which she incorporates into her teaching. Muli’s short stories have

anthologies including Critical Muslim: Cities, Khiyana: The Unmaking of the Syrian

been published in Moving Worlds Journal. Her MA novel was shortlisted for

Revolution (UnKant) and Fear and Friendship (Continuum).

the 2014 SI Leeds Prize. She is currently editing her PhD novel for publication.

Twitter @javaadalipoor

www.muliamaye.wordpress.com/ Twitter @muliamaye

H Moniza Alvi

H Tahmima Anam

Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew

Tahmima Anam is an anthropologist and

up in Hertfordshire. Her first poetry collection,

novelist. Her debut novel, A Golden Age, was

The Country at My Shoulder (OUP, 1993), was

winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize

shortlisted for the T S Eliot and Whitbread

for Best First Book and her second novel, The

Poetry Prizes. Later titles include Split World:

Good Muslim, was nominated for the 2011

Poems 1990-2005 (Bloodaxe, 2008), Europa

Man Asian Prize. Her most recent book is The

(Bloodaxe, 2008) and At the Time of Partition (Bloodaxe, 2013); these last

Bones of Grace (2016). In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young

two were Poetry Book Society Choices and shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize.

British Novelists. She is a Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York

Homesick for the Earth (Bloodaxe, 2011) is a collection of her versions of the

Times and was a judge for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Born in

French/Uruguayan poet Jules Supervielle. Her Selected Poems are published

Dhaka, Bangladesh, she was educated at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard

in Holland (Het land aan mijn schouder, 2002) and Italy (Un Mondo Diviso, 2014).

University and now lives in Hackney, east London.

Moniza was a teacher in London for many years and currently tutors for The

http://www.canongate.tv/authors/tahmimaanam

Poetry School. She lives in Norfolk.

Twitter @tahmima

www.moniza.co.uk/ 11


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Anthony Anaxagorou

H Mona Arshi

Anthony Anaxagorou is an award-winning

Mona Arshi was born in west London, where

writer. He has published several volumes of

she still lives. She worked as a human rights

poems and essays, a spoken word EP and a

lawyer for a decade before she received a

short story collection. His poetry has appeared

Masters in Creative Writing from the University

variously in the media (national television, radio,

of East Anglia and won the inaugural Magma

magazines, anthologies). He has judged several

poetry competition in 2011. Mona went on

literary prizes, including the 2016 BBC Young Writers Award. Currently he is writer

to receive prizes in other competitions and she has been published widely,

in residence at several London schools; he also guest lectures on poetry, race/

including in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Times of India. Her

identity politics and social inclusion. In 2012 he founded Out-Spoken, a poetry and

debut collection Small Hands was published in 2015 by Pavilion Poetry, part of

live music night. In 2013 he started the independent publisher Out-Spoken Press.

Liverpool University Press. George Szirtes commented that ‘It is rare to find a

He also hosts the monthly podcast series The Interlocutor. His writing has been

first book as beautiful as this’. Mona teaches poetry and was poetry mentor for

translated into Spanish, German, Greek, French and Japanese. In 2015 he won the

the Jerwood/Arvon scheme in 2016/2017.

Groucho Maverick Award for his writing.

www.monaarshi.com/

www.anthonyanaxagorou.com/ Twitter @Anthony1983

Twitter @arshi_mona

H Raymond Antrobus

H Dean Atta

Raymond Antrobus is one of the world’s

Dean Atta is a poet from London. His debut

first recipients of a Spoken Word MA from

collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger (Westbourne

Goldsmith’s University, London. His poems

Press), was shortlisted for the Polari First

have appeared in POETRY magazine, The

Book Prize. He was named as one of the

Rialto, Magma and are forthcoming in Wasafiri

most influential LGBT people in the UK

and The Poetry Review. He is a Complete

by The Independent on Sunday Pink List.

Works fellow (2016-17) and is anthologised in the forthcoming Ten Anthology

He has performed at the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the

(Bloodaxe), Stairs & Whispers (Nine Arches Press) and Bare Lit (Jacaranda). His

Mediterranean (Italy) and also in Germany, Sweden, Canada and South Africa.

second pamphlet To Sweeten Bitter is just out (Outspoken Press) and his first full

He is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and Point Blank Poets and an

collection is forthcoming (Penned In The Margins, 2018). Kwame Dawes says

Associate Artist at New Writing South. He has been commissioned to write

of Ray’s poetry: ‘His monologues are stunning studies of voice and substance’;

poems for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Dazed & Confused, The National

Imtiaz Dharker says ‘He makes the reader/listener experience the moment with

Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern. He is currently working on his second

all the senses and very skilfully sets that up against a harsher reality’.

collection, The Black Flamingo.

www.raymondantrobus.com/ Twitter @RaymondAntrobus

Twitter @DeanAtta

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Ola Awonubi

H Balvinder Singh Banga

Ola Awonubi studied for an MA in creative

Balvinder Singh Banga is the child of first

writing and Imaginative Practice at the

generation immigrants who settled in inner

University of East London. In 2008 her short

city Birmingham. He read law at Cambridge,

story ‘The Pink House’ won the National Words

the first in his family to go university. Since

of Colour Competition; another story, ‘The

then, he has worked at the London bar and in

Go-Slow Journey’, won the 2009 Wasafiri

post-war Bosnia with the army among others.

New Writing Prize. Some of her short stories feature on blogs and in journals

He is the author of an unpublished novel, Land Without Sorrow, and has been

and anthologies such as African writing.com, Story Time, The Ake Review,

published in various journals, including South Asian Popular Culture, Cha: An

TheSiren.co.uk, The Woven Tale Press and, more recently, Brittle Paper. Her

Asian Literary Journal, Litro and Wasafiri. Two of his short stories will soon

novel, Love’s Persuasion, was published by Ankara Press, the romance imprint

feature in anthologies by Cinnamon and Comma Press. His writing draws heavily

of Cassava Press. Her second book for the imprint, I love You Unconditionally,

on his family’s heritage and the places that refuse to leave him. He currently

was published recently. She is currently working on a collection of short stories

lives in London but soon intends to settle in a small town in India.

based on the African experience in the diaspora.

www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/

www.olaawonubi.com/ Twitter @createandwrite

Balvinder-Banga-Showcase.pdf

H Biyi Bandele

H Francesca Beard

Biyi Bandele is a director, screenwriter,

Francesca Beard is a London-based,

playwright and novelist. He directed and

Malaysian-born writer who has been called

wrote the screenplay for the feature film Half

‘The Queen of British performance poetry’ by

of a Yellow Sun (2013), based on the novel by

London Metro. She performs and workshops

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Born in 1967 in

across the UK and represents the best of

Nigeria, Bandele left home at 14. He studied

British live literature around the world with

drama at the University of Ile-Ife, where his play Rain won him a scholarship to

the British Council. She’s been poet in residence at The Barbican, the BBC

London. In 1997, he adapted Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for stage and in

White City, The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kingston Library,

1999 wrote an adaptation of Aphra Benn’s Oroonoko. Bandele’s novels The Man

the Natural history Museum and The Metropolitan Police and has written for

Who Came In From The Back of Beyond and The Sympathetic Undertaker and

The Royal Court, The Young Vic and BBC Radios 3 and 4. Her first solo show,

Other Dreams were published in 1991, followed by The Street (1999) and Burma

Chinese Whispers, produced by Apples and Snakes, was ground-breaking in its

Boy (2007). The Independent has named him one of Africa’s 50 greatest artists.

approach to performance poetry as a cross-arts form. She is currently working

He lives in London.

on a new one woman show, How to Survive a Post-Truth Apocalypse.

www.wylieagency.com/clients.html Twitter @biyibandele

www.francescabeard.com Twitter @FrancescaBeard 13


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Jay Bernard

H Kavita Bhanot

Jay Bernard is from London and is a writer

Kavita Bhanot is a writer, editor, teacher and

and film programmer at BFI Flare (London’s

activist based between India and England.

LGBT film festival). They are the author of

Her fiction, non-fiction and reviews have been

three pamphlets, The Red and Yellow Nothing

published widely in anthologies, magazines

(2016), English Breakfast (2013) and Your Sign is

and journals, including Media Diversified

Cuckoo, Girl (2008), and featured in anthologies

and The Independent; her short stories have

and magazines including TEN: The New Wave, Voice Recognition, Out of Bounds:

been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She is editor of the anthology Too Asian, Not

Black British Writers and Place and Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer

Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press, 2011), the forthcoming Book of Birmingham

Anthology. Recent projects include The Sound and the State (an ongoing poem/

(Comma Press, 2017) and co-editor of the first Bare Lit anthology, literature

film/lecture premiered at the 2016 Document Human Rights Film Festival); 100,

by writers of colour (Brain Mill Press, 2017). She has a PhD from Manchester

a three-site poetry installation commissioned by Art on the Underground; the

University in Creative Writing and Literature, has taught at Manchester

Breaking Ground US tour 2015/16; and a 2016 residency at the George Padmore

University, Fordham University and Ashoka University and is a reader and

Institute, celebrating the 50th anniversary of New Beacon Books.

mentor with The Literary Consultancy.

www.jaybernard.co.uk/ Twitter @brrnrrd

www.mediadiversified.org/category/kavita-bhanot/

H Anita Bhagwandas

H Bidisha

Anita Bhagwandas is a multi-award-winning

Bidisha is a journalist, novelist, poet and radio

freelance journalist based in London. She has

and TV presenter specialising in social justice,

made her name creating thought-provoking,

human rights and the arts. She began writing

culturally relevant and agenda-setting journalism

for arts magazines at 14, published her debut

and has spent the last decade climbing the ranks

novel Seahorses (HarperCollins) at 16 and a

of the biggest UK fashion and lifestyle titles —

second novel, Too Fast To Live, at 21. She has

she was Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire and worked at Women’s Health and

published the travelogue Venetian Masters: Under the Skin of the City of Love

Stylist. Anita also writes on popular culture and diversity features focusing on race

(2008), the Middle Eastern reportage Beyond the Wall (2012) and Asylum and

and plus size fashion, including for The Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, The Pool, Red,

Exile: Hidden Voices (2015) based on her work with asylum seekers and refugees.

NME and Kerrang!. She works with trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory

Her poetry has featured in Brave New Voices (English PEN) among others. She

and has been a commentator on Woman’s Hour, BBC’s Asian Network and ITV’s

has just finished Safe Journey Home: New Writing from Italy, India and China and

This Morning as a beauty expert. Currently, Anita is working on a book celebrating

is working on her debut poetry book and a short story collection.

and promoting a wider understanding of what constitutes being beautiful.

www.bidisha-online.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.anitabhagwandas.com/ Twitter @ItsMeAnitaB

Twitter @Bidisha_online

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Malorie Blackman

H Malika Booker

Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books

Malika Booker is a British writer, poet and

and is acknowledged as one of today’s most

multi-disciplinary artist of Guyanese and

imaginative and convincing writers for young

Grenadian parentage. She founded Malika’s

readers. She is particularly well known for

Poetry Kitchen. Her poetry collection Pepper

the Noughts & Crosses series. She has been

Seed was published by Peepal Tree Press

awarded many prizes for her work, including

(2013) and longlisted for the OCM Bocas 2014

the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award. Malorie

Prize; it was also shortlisted for the 2014 Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for first

has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. In 2005 she was honoured

full collection. Her 2017 publication is in The Penguin Modern Poet Series 3,

with the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her contribution to children’s

Your Family: Your Body, where she is published with poets Sharon Olds and

books and in 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature.

Warsan Shire. Malika was inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare

She has been described by The Times as ‘a national treasure’. Malorie was the

Company. She was the first British poet to be a fellow at Cave Canem, the

UK Children’s Laureate 2013-15.

prestigious African American poetry organisation. She is currently the Douglas

www.malorieblackman.co.uk/

Caster Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Leeds.

Twitter @malorieblackman

www.malikabooker.com/ Twitter @Malikabooker

H J J Bola

H Siddhartha Bose

A Kinshasa-born, London-raised writer, poet

Siddhartha Bose is a writer, poet and

and educator, J J Bola has published three

playwright based in London. His books

books of poetry: Elevate (2012), Daughter of

include two poetry collections, Kalagora and

the Sun (2014) and WORD (2015). His work

Digital Monsoon (Penned in the Margins,

is centred on a narrative of empowerment,

2010/13), a play, No Dogs, No Indians (Penned

humanisation and healing of trauma as well

in the Margins, 2017) and a monograph on

as discovery of self through art, literature and poetry. J J Bola reads regularly

the grotesque, Back and Forth (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). Sid

at shows and festivals across the UK such as Tongue Fu, Vocals & Verses, Chill

has been dubbed one of the ‘ten rising stars of British poetry’ by The Times.

Pill, The Roundhouse, Ventnor Fringe, Glastonbury etc as well as at universities

His play, also called Kalagora, had an acclaimed run at Edinburgh Fringe

from SOAS to Oxford, Lincoln to the University of Birmingham. His US West

2011 and London’s Perverted Children was long-listed for an Oxford Samuel

Coast mini-tour in 2015/16 included performances at Da Poetry Lounge, UCLA,

Beckett Theatre Trust Award. He has made a film, Animal City, and co-edited a

Stanford University, Merrit College and in San Francisco and Oakland, where he

Special Issue of Wasafiri magazine on international urban writing. Sid was a

won the Oakland Poetry Slam.

Leverhulme Fellow in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London (2011-13).

www.jjbola.com/ Twitter @JJ_Bola

www.kalagora.com/ Twitter @kalagoraHQ 15


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Sita Brahmachari

H Victoria Adukwei Bulley

Sita Brahmachari’s career spans writing

Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a British-born

novels, plays and short stories. She has an

Ghanaian poet and writer from London. A

MA in Arts Education. In 2011 she won The

former Barbican Young Poet, her work has

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her

been commissioned by the Royal Academy

debut novel Artichoke Hearts. Three of her

of Arts in addition to being featured on BBC

novels for Macmillan Children’s Books –

Radio 4. She was shortlisted for the Brunel

Artichoke Hearts, Jasmine Skies and Red Leaves have been longlisted for The

University International African Poetry Prize 2016 and is one of ten poets on

Carnegie Prize; her novel Kite Spirit was nominated for UKLA Book Award. Red

the acclaimed UK mentorship programme, The Complete Works. Her debut

Leaves was endorsed by Amnesty International UK. Her own scripts include

pamphlet, Girl B, edited by Kwame Dawes, and is part of the New Generation

Lyrical MC and The Arrival (Tamasha Theatre Company, 2013). She was online

African Poets series 2017.

Writer in Residence for Book Trust (2015) and is currently Writer In Residence

www.victoriaadukwei.com/

at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Sita’s fifth book for Macmillan

Twitter @victoriadukwei

Children’s Books Tender Earth will be published in summer 2017. www.sitabrahmachari.com/ Twitter @SitaBrahmachari

H Cecil Browne

H Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

Cecil Browne was born in St Vincent and the

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is a poet and academic

Grenadines in 1957 and came to England in

with a focus on experimental writing. A poetry

1970. He has been a lecturer in maths for 25

collection on wild swimming, Swims (Penned

years and is passionate about cricket and The

in the Margins, 2017), and the monograph A

Sunday Times crossword. Creative writing is

Social Biography of Contemporary Innovative

a more recent interest and in 2010 his first

Poetry Communities - The Gift, the Wager, and

book, The Moon Is Following Me, was published by Matador. It is a collection

Poethics (Palgrave, 2017) are forthcoming. Poetry chapbooks include Rivering

of six short stories that ‘recall an era when the village was the centre of life

(Oystercatcher, 2017), oh-zones (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2012), Exotic Birds

in St Vincent and the Grenadines’. His second book, Feather Your Tingaling:

(Wordland, 2010), Her Body: The City (Wordland, 2009). A short film on poet John

Caribbean Short Stories, was published in 2012 by Matador.

Clare, M, by Brian Shields, features her poetry. Poetry has been anthologised

www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=1003

in Out of Everywhere 2 (Reality Street, 2015) and Dear World and Everyone In It (Bloodaxe, 2013). Her nature writing book/memoir is in progress. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newman University in Birmingham. www.elizabethjaneburnett.com/ Twitter @ejbpoetry

16


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Season Butler

H Shruti Chauhan

Season Butler is a writer, artist, academic and

Shruti Chauhan is a British Indian poet and

activist. She undertook the MA in Creative

performer based in Leicester. She has won

Writing at Bath Spa University in 2007 and

slams internationally in Chicago and Mumbai

is currently reading for a PhD at Goldsmiths

and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall,

College. In 2014, Season won second place in

the US Embassy’s American Centre in New

the SI Leeds Prize for an early draft of Cygnet,

Delhi, the Green Mill in Chicago and at poetry

a coming-of-age novel told from the margins of society. Through three days in

festivals and events across the UK. In 2015 she toured Three the Hard Way

the life of a teenage girl abandoned in an old-age separatist community on an

– Part 2 nationally with Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE and Lydia Towsey. She is a

island in the Atlantic, Cygnet is a black comedy about ageing and social value,

trustee of Writing East Midlands, the region’s writer development agency,

addiction, empathy and the lived experience of climate change. She is a member

an MGCfutures Bursary recipient and a participant on Curve Theatre’s BAME

of I’m With You, (a collective concerned with performance, queer domesticity

Cultural Leadership programme. Shruti is currently developing her debut solo

and gesturing towards wily future) and an associate artist of Somerset House

show, The Sky Diaries.

Studios.

www.shrutichauhan.com/

www.seasonbutler.com/ Twitter @season_butler

Twitter @shrutinotes

H Safeena Chaudhry

H Brian Chikwava

Safeena Chaudhry is a British Asian, London-

Brian Chikwava was born in Zimbabwe and

based novelist, events organiser, videographer

has been in the UK since 2004. He has been a

and editor. As the author of Companions of

Charles Pick Fellow at the University of East

Clay, her research took her into hospitals,

Anglia and lives in London. He won the Caine

clinics and into the depths of dreams. She

Prize in 2004 for the short story ‘Seventh

spent years researching lucid dreaming,

Street Alchemy’ and is the author of Harare

astral travel and went as far as the Huacachina desert, Peru. She is one of the

North, published by Jonathan Cape (English, 2009) and Editions Zoe (French

first independently published novelists to have a book launch at Foyles on the

translation, 2011). His short fiction has appeared in anthologies published

Southbank. Safeena is the founder of Novel London, a platform for emerging

by Picador, Granta, Weaver Press, Jacana and Umuzi and has also been

and established novelists. The platform is the only event of its kind that records

broadcast on BBC Radios 3 and 4 and the BBC World Service. He has been the

and uploads videos of novelists reading out their opening chapters. Whilst

judge of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize among others.

her writing explores the darkness within, she also works with light and runs

www.penguin.co.uk/authors/brian-chikwava/1062003/

Photography Meetups, which include workshops, seminars and photowalks.

Twitter @BrianChikwava

www.novellondon.co.uk Twitter @companionsclay 17


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Kayo Chingonyi

H Fran Clark

Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete

London born singer/songwriter Fran Clark’s

Works programme and the author of two

first novel, Holding Paradise, was published

pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012)

by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2014. During

and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream

that year, Fran passed her Creative Writing

(Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection

MA with Distinction at Brunel University. She

is Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017). In 2012

then went on to complete a collection of short

he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by

stories – a follow up to Holding Paradise – called The Long Way Home. Her

The Southbank Centre as part of London’s Cultural Olympiad. He was awarded

second novel, When Skies Are Grey, was shorlisted for the SI Leeds Literary

the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University

Prize 2016 and she is currently seeking agent representation. Fran is a ghost

African Poetry Prize and has completed residencies with Kingston University,

writer of women’s fiction and articles for online magazines. She also writes

Cove Park, First Story, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics and Royal Holloway

commercial fiction under a pseudonym and has recently agreed a three book

University of London in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. He was Associate

deal with HQ Digital, an imprint of Harper Collins.

Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from autumn 2015 to spring 2016.

www.franclarkwriter.co.uk/

www.kayochingonyi.com/ Twitter @KayoChingonyi

Twitter @FranClarkAuthor

H Maya Chowdhry

H Tosin Coker

A poet and inTer-aCtive theatre-maker, Maya’s

Tosin Coker is celebrated as one of science

writing is infused and influenced through her

fiction’s most talented and refreshing players

work for radio, film and theatre. Her poetry

as well as the UK’s BAME voice of the

collections are Fossil (Peepal Tree Press, 2016)

genre. Calling upon her life experience as an

and The Seamstress and the Global Garment

inheritor of sickle cell anaemia, in between

(Crocus, 2009). She is published in anthologies

writing her five science fiction novels, Coker

including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe) and Red (Peepal Tree Press, 2016) and in

penned an educational non-fiction title, Genetic Nemesis HbSS Sickle Cell

magazines such as Ambit. Her accolades include the Cardiff International Poetry

Anaemia, on the subject of the blood disorder. Additionally, an eagerness to

Competition and the BBC Young Playwrights Festival. Her collaboration Tales from

reconnect with her native tongue, as well as the birth of her third child, led

the Towpath at Manchester Literature Festival was shortlisted for the 2014 New

Coker to create a series of pre-schooler dual language books. Focusing on the

Media Writing Prize, and her recent digital poetic work Ripple was shortlisted for

Ghanaian and Nigerian languages, Twi and Yoruba respectively, the books

the 2015 Dot Award. She is currently working on the Peas on Earth project, which

were greatly welcomed by members of the diaspora.

explores food sovereignty using live art and augmented reality.

www.tosincoker.com/

http://interactiveartist.org/ Twitter @MayaChowdhry

Twitter @TheAfrofuturist

18


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Crisis

H Selma Dabbagh

Crisis is part of the London spoken word

Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer

scene, travelling to New York for the British

of fiction living in London. Her first novel, Out

Council to participate in the UK in NY festival

of It (Bloomsbury), set between Gaza, London

at the world-renowned Nuyorican Poets’

and the Gulf, was a Guardian Book of the Year

Cafe. He has performed on the growing

(2011, 2012). Her writing has appeared in

underground black comedy circuit, on radio,

numerous anthologies and many of her short

at a political conference and at numerous performance venues, including

stories have been shortlisted, nominated for or won awards. In 2014, her play,

the Southbank Centre, the Union Chapel and for Jamaican Liberation Day

The Brick, was produced by BBC Radio 4 and nominated for an Imison Award.

celebrations in Manchester. Crisis has been commissioned by Apples &

She regularly writes for The Electronic Intifada on Palestinian culture and for

Snakes, one of the UK’s leading spoken word organisations, to write for the

The Guardian, The London Review of Books and GQ among others. Out of It has

Writers on the Storm and Broken Word tours.

been translated into Arabic (Gaze Taht el Jild, Bloomsbury Qatar, 2015). French

Twitter @elcrisis

(Editions de L’aube) and Italian (Il Sirente) editions are out in 2017. www.selmadabbagh.com Twitter @SelmaDabbagh

H Jacqueline Crooks

H David Dabydeen

Jacqueline Crooks was born in Jamaica

David Dabydeen was born in Guyana and

of Jamaican, Indian and German ancestry.

read English at Cambridge, graduating with

She has a first-class degree in Social Policy

the Quiller Couch Prize in 1978. He did his

and an MA in Creative & Life Writing from

doctorate at University College London and

Goldsmiths University. She writes about

was then appointed a Junior Research Fellow

Caribbean migration and sub-cultures. The

at Oxford (Wolfson College), before becoming

first chapter of her novel in progress, ‘Follow the Smoke’, was published by

a Professor at the University of Warwick. He has published seven novels and

Granta. Her short stories have been published in Peepal Tree Press’s Closure

three collections of poetry. He was awarded the Commonwealth Prize for

anthology and she was shortlisted in the 2013 Wasafiri New Writing Prize and

Poetry in 1984. His novels have won the Sagba Award, the Raja Rao Prize and

Asham Award. Her collection of linked short stories, The Ice Migration, will be

the Guyana Prize and have been shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Prize, the

published by Peepal Tree Press in autumn 2017.

James Tait Black Prize and the John Llewlyn Rhys Prize. Between 2010 and

www.jacquelinecrooks.com/

2015 he was appointed Guyana’s Ambassador to China.

Twitter @Luidas

www.peepaltreepress.com/authors/david-dabydeen

19


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Rishi Dastidar

H Imtiaz Dharker

Rishi Dastidar’s poetry has appeared in

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and

The Financial Times and at Tate Modern

documentary film-maker. Awarded the

amongst others. His work has featured in the

Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014,

anthologies Adventures in Form (Penned in the

recipient of the Cholmondeley Award from

Margins) and Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe).

the Society of Authors, she is also a Council

His debut collection Ticker-tape is published

member of the Royal Society of Literature and

by Nine Arches Press. In 2016 he was commissioned by the BBC to write and

on the Editorial Board of Poems on the Underground. Her latest collection is

perform a poem for National Poetry Day. He was a runner-up in the 2011 Cardiff

Over the Moon (Bloodaxe Books). With Poetry Live! she reads to over 25,000

International Poetry Competition and the 2014 Troubadour International Poetry

students a year. She has had 11 solo exhibitions of her drawings. She also

Prize; and in 2016 was long-listed in the UK’s National Poetry Competition. A

scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organisations in

fellow of The Complete Works, he is a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine

India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and

and a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. He is chair of literature

children.

organisation Spread The Word and teaches for The Poetry School.

www.imtiazdharker.com/

Twitter @BetaRish

Twitter @Idharker

H A A Dhand

H Harkiran Dhindsa

A A Dhand was raised in Bradford and

Born in India, Harkiran Dhindsa was raised

spent his youth observing the city from

in London and much of her fiction is set

behind the counter of a small convenience

there. A qualified dentist, Harkiran worked in

store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he

community dentistry, in particular providing

worked in London and travelled extensively

care for patients with mental health issues,

before returning to Bradford to start his own

but left this career to pursue writing. In 2014,

business and write. The history, diversity and darkness of the city inspired

she completed an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction at City University. Her

his Harry Virdee novels. He won a national script-writing competition in 2004

novel, Our Staggering Minds, was shortlisted in the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2016

and then began writing crime fiction, a 12-year journey of one million words

and longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition. This as yet unpublished novel

before he penned his debut novel, Street of Darkness (Transworld, 2016). TV

is a midlife-reckoning tale of thwarted ambition, obsessive love and troubled

rights to the book were sold prior to publication and the screen adaptation

minds. Among her shorter fiction, ‘Burying Your Life’ was shortlisted in the

is in early development. The novel has also been nominated for two Crime

Guardian Short Story Competition 2010. ‘The Mixing of Mendhi’ was published

Writers’ Association Awards.

in an Asham Award anthology of new writing by women.

www.aadhand.com/ Twitter @aadhand

Twitter @HarkiranDhindsa

20


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Sareeta Domingo

H Sharon Duggal

Sareeta Domingo wrote The Nearness of You

Sharon Duggal was born to parents who

(Little, Brown, 2016), a portrait of a young

immigrated to the UK from the Punjab, India

woman navigating love and friendship in

and grew up around Handsworth, Birmingham.

modern-day London, as well as numerous

She lived in London for many years and

published short stories and a novella. She

now lives in Brighton. Sharon is a writer,

was born in south-east London, but spent

campaigner and community radio producer/

her formative years in Bahrain when her family moved there. With over a

presenter amongst other things. She was a runner-up in the Decibel-Penguin

decade of experience in publishing, she works as a freelance editor and

Prize for Short Stories and received a Literary Consultancy bursary from New

blogs about contemporary romantic fiction at The Palate Cleanser [http://

Writing South for her writing-in-progress. She has a Master of Philosophy

thepalatecleanserblog.wordpress.com]. She is a keen advocate for greater

Creative Writing degree from the University of Sussex. The Handsworth Times

diversity in publishing and was a panellist at the inaugural Bare Lit Festival. She

is her first novel (Bluemoose Books, 2016). The Morning Star newspaper choose

has written for groundbreaking online and print magazine gal-dem, participating

it as their 2016 novel of the year and it was recently selected as Brighton City

in their take-over of the V&A Museum in October 2016.

Reads’ Adult Big Read choice as part of the 2017 Brighton Festival.

www.sareetadomingo.com/ Twitter @SareetaDomingo

www.Sharonduggal.com Twitter @MsSDuggal

H Afshan D’souza-Lodhi

H Yvvette Edwards

Afshan D’souza-Lodhi was born in Dubai

Yvvette Edwards is a British author

and is of Indian/Pakistani descent. She

of Montserratian origin. Her debut, A

writes plays, prose, performance pieces

Cupboard Full of Coats, was published in the

and occasionally passive aggressive

UK, USA and Greece and nominated for

tweets. Afshan has completed many writer

awards including the Man Booker Prize,

residencies and has also won numerous

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Impac

awards (including the Vinspired Award, The Big Issue in the North Award and

Dublin Literary Award. Its themes centre around the psychological impact on

a Community History Award). She has worked with Manchester Lit Festival,

the interior worlds of children who witness domestic violence. Her second

The Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Eclipse

novel, The Mother, was published in 2016 in the UK and USA. Narrated by

Theatre, Paul Burston’s Polari and one day hopes to take over the world. She

the mother of a 16 year-old who has been stabbed and killed, it is an emotive

is currently studying for her Masters at Manchester University and has been

exploration of grief and the root causes of teenage violence. She currently

commissioned by Random Acts North to write and direct a short film.

mentors for the Escalator scheme run by Writers’ Centre Norwich and is a

www.afshanlodhi.com/

judge for the Jhalak Prize for writers of colour.

Twitter @ashlodhi

www.yvvetteedwards.co.uk/ Twitter @YvvetteEdwards 21


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Zena Edwards

H Inua Ellams

Zena Edwards was raised in Tottenham, north

Born in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is a cross-art form

London and has been writing since she was a

practitioner, a poet, playwright & performer,

child. Since graduating from Middlesex

graphic artist & designer and founder of the

University in Drama and Communication Studies,

Midnight Run — an international, arts-filled,

Zena has been involved in poetry, theatre and

night-time, playful, urban, walking experience.

live literature performance for 24 years. She has

He is a Complete Works poet alumni and a

been nominated for the 2017 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships Award, was

designer at White Space Creative Agency. Across his work, identity, displacement

nominated for the Arts Foundation Award for Performance Poetry 2013 and won

& destiny are recurring themes, which also mixes old and new: traditional

the Hidden Creatives Award 2012. Her writing for performance explores collective

African storytelling with contemporary poetry, pencil with pixel, texture with

and personal revolution, re-membering that which has been dismembered in

vector images. His three poetry pamphlets are published by flipped eye and

the continuum of the African diaspora pre- and postcolonial canon. Zena has is

Akashic Books and several plays came out with Oberon. In 2017 his latest book,

creative and educational director of Verse In Dialog (©CV:iD), which is a social

#Afterhours, will be published by Nine Arches and his Barber Shop Chronicles will

enterprise company focused on cross-art collaboration for social change.

have its world premier at the National Theatre, London.

www.goodnewzee.wordpress.com/ Twitter @ZenaEdwards

www.inuaellams.com/ Twitter @InuaEllams

H Asma Elbadawi

H Diana Evans

Asma Elbadawi is a poet and artist born in

Diana Evans is an award-winning novelist,

Sudan and raised in Bradford, Yorkshire from

journalist and critic. Her bestselling novel,

the age of one. Her writing expresses her

26a, won the inaugural Orange Award for

thoughts on global issues, including gender,

New Writers, a British Book Award and was

mental health and identity. She holds an MA

shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel and

in Visual Arts and a BA in photography, video

Commonwealth Best First Book Awards. The

and digital imaging. She also plays and coaches basketball. She was one of

Times described her second novel, The Wonder, as ‘the most dazzling depiction

the final six Words First poets, a national project from the Roundhouse and

of the world of dance since Ballet Shoes’. She is a graduate of the University

BBC Radio 1Xtra to highlight the existing spoken word scene and to nurture

of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing and has written extensively on music,

new and emerging talent across the UK. As a dyslexic poet, poetry helps her

dance and literature in the national press, including Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar,

make up her own rules for using words and she writes about the everyday,

Time Out, The Guardian, The Times and The Independent. She has taught writing

from conversations with a friend to nostalgia for her home country.

workshops for Arvon, Royal Holloway College and First Story and is currently a

Twitter @AsmaElbadawi

Royal Literary Fellow at the University of Kent. www.penguin.co.uk/authors/diana-evans/1016409/

22


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Bernardine Evaristo

H Caleb Femi

Bernardine Evaristo is the author of seven

Caleb Femi is the 2016-17 Young People’s

books of fiction and verse fiction exploring

Laureate for London and an English teacher,

aspects of the African diaspora, including

filmmaker, photographer and schools

her most recent novel, Mr Loverman, about

workshop leader. Caleb’s poetry commissions

a septuagenarian Antiguan-Londoner who is

include the Tate Modern, The Royal Society

closet homosexual (Penguin, 2013). Other books

for Literature and The Guardian. He has read

include Lara, Blonde Roots and The Emperor’s Babe. She also writes short stories,

at many London venues; he also opened up for Lianne La Havas and has

essays, literary criticism, poetry and BBC radio and theatre drama. She has held

performed at festivals including Latitude, Ed Fringe, Boomtown, Lovebox and

several international fellowships and was The 2015 Montgomery Fellow at

Greenbelt. Caleb won the Roundhouse Poetry and Genesis Poetry Slams and

Dartmouth College, USA. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel

is currently working on a debut pamphlet. As a filmmaker, he has released two

University, London. She has won many awards, was elected a Fellow of the Royal

documentaries, What Did Love Taste Like In The 70s? and Heartbreak & Grime,

Society of Literature in 2004 and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in

to good international reception, which has led him to give talks and panel

2006. She was honoured with an MBE in 2009.

discussions on the topic of grime music, road culture and masculinity.

www.bevaristo.com/ Twitter @BernardineEvari

www.calebfemi.com/ Twitter @CalebFemi5

H Roopa Farooki

H Kat Francois

Roopa Farooki has published six novels with

Kat Francois is a performance artist,

Headline and Macmillan, which have been

playwright and director. The first person to

listed for the Orange/Baileys Prize three times

win a televised poetry slam in the UK, a year

and translated into 13 languages. Her other

later Kat won the World Slam Championships.

award nominations include the Dublin Impac

She hosts a monthly poetry and music event,

Literary Award, the DSC Prize for South Asian

Word4Word, now in its 14th year at Theatre

Literature and the Muslim Writers’ Award. She is the recipient of an Arts

Royal Stratford East. Kat has written and performed two solo plays and three

Council Award and the John C Laurence Prize from the Authors’ Foundation for

comedy shows; her play Raising Lazarus, about the experiences of Caribbean

work that improves understanding between cultures. Her latest novel, The Good

soldiers in World War One, continues to tour globally. Kat has worked

Children, was named ‘outstanding novel of the year’ by The Daily Mail. She is a

with young people for many years as a youth worker. She is an established

lecturer for the Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford University and is currently

playwright and director of youth theatre, devising plays for theatres including

studying medicine at St George’s University of London. She lives with her

the Roundhouse Camden and Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. Kat has appeared

husband and four young children.

on BBC TV and radio, Sky and international media.

www.roopafarooki.com/ Twitter @RoopaFarooki

www.katfrancois.com Twitter @katfrancois 23


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Gabriel Gbadamosi

H Niven Govinden

Gabriel Gbadamosi is a poet, playwright and

Niven Govinden is the author of four novels:

essayist. His London novel Vauxhall (2013)

We Are The New Romantics (Bloomsbury,

won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize and

2004), Graffiti My Soul (Canongate, 2007),

Best International Novel at the Sharjah

Black Bread White Beer (The Friday Project/

Book Fair. He was AHRC Creative Fellow in

Harper Collins, 2012) and All The Days And

European and African Performance at the

Nights (The Friday Project/Harper Collins,

Pinter Centre, Goldsmiths, a Judith E Wilson Fellow for creative writing at

2014). He has been shortlisted twice for the Green Carnation Prize, shortlisted

Cambridge University and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at City & Guilds of

for the Bristol Short Story Prize and longlisted for both the Folio and

London Art School. Plays include Eshu’s Faust (Jesus College, Cambridge),

Crossword Prizes. His short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 & 4

Hotel Orpheu (Schaubühne, Berlin) and, for radio, The Long, Hot Summer of ’76

and published in various publications and anthologies including Gorse, Time

(BBC Radio 3), which won the Richard Imison Award. He presented arts

Out, Pen Pusher and BUTT. He chaired the Green Carnation Prize in 2015 and is

and ideas on Night Waves for BBC Radio 3 and is a trustee of the Arcola

currently judging the 2017 4th Estate/Guardian BAME Short Story Prize.

Theatre, London.

www.canongate.tv/authors/nivengovinden

www.gabrielgbadamosi.com Twitter @vauxhallgabriel

Twitter @niven_govinden

H Salena Godden

H Colin Grant

Salena Godden is the author of the literary

Colin Grant is a historian, author and BBC

memoir Springfield Road and the poetry books

producer. His books include Negro with a

Fishing In The Aftermath and Under The Pier.

Hat, a biography of Marcus Garvey; I and I

She is a regular headliner at national and

The Natural Mystics Marley, Tosh and Wailer;

international literary and music festivals.

and his latest, A Smell of Burning; the Story of

Her short fiction ‘Blue Cornflowers’ was

Epilepsy. Grant’s memoir of growing up in a

shortlisted for the 2016 Guardian Short Story Prize and a performance of

Caribbean family in 1970s suburbia, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for

her poem ‘Titanic’ was aired on the BBC poetry programme We Belong Here

the PEN/Ackerley Prize. He has written numerous BBC radio documentaries

throughout October 2016. Salena’s essay ‘Shade’ was published in 2016

including A Fountain of Tears, focusing on the last days of Federico Garcia

bestseller and literary sensation The Good Immigrant (Unbound Books). Most

Lorca. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and Granta Magazine and is a

recently, Salena’s new live spoken word album LIVEwire has attracted rave

tutor of Creative Writing at Arvon and City University.

reviews since its 2017 launch with indie poetry label Nymphs and Thugs.

www.colingrant.info/ Twitter @colincraiggrant

www.salenagodden.tumblr.com/ Twitter @salenagodden 24


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Romesh Gunesekera

H Rahila Gupta

Romesh Gunesekera is internationally

Rahila Gupta is a freelance journalist, writer and

acclaimed for his novels and short stories,

activist. Her books include: a collection of essays,

including the Booker-shortlisted Reef. He

From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers: Southall

explores key themes of our times – political,

Black Sisters (ed., 2003); Provoked, the story of a

environmental, economic – through stories

battered woman who killed her violent husband

of wide appeal. Noontide Toll, his most recent

(she also co-wrote the 2007 film screenplay);

book, captures a vital moment in the aftermath of civil war in Sri Lanka and

and Enslaved (2007). Her play, Don’t Wake Me: The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong,

was featured in The New Yorker. Romesh travels widely for festivals and has

ran in London, Edinburgh, New York and four Indian cities between 2012-14 and

run workshops for the British Council, Arvon and others to inspire new writers.

was nominated for numerous awards. Her articles are published in The Guardian,

Born in Sri Lanka, he also lived in the Philippines before coming to Britain.

New Humanist, New Internationalist and openDemocracy among others. She and

His awards include The New York Times Notable Books, the Premio Mondello

Beatrix Campbell are collaborating on a book, Why Doesn’t Patriarchy Die?, which

(Italy) and the BBC Asia Award. Romesh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of

investigates how patriarchy fits with diverse political systems. She is co-writing a

Literature.

play with her daughter on Indian Partition for Tara Arts.

www.romeshgunesekera.com Twitter @RomeshG

Twitter @RahilaG

H Xiaolu Guo

H Choman Hardi

Xiaolu Guo is a writer, academic and filmmaker.

Choman Hardi was born in Sulamani,

Her most notable novels are A Concise Chinese-

Kurdistan and lived in Iraq and Iran before

English Dictionary for Lovers (Orange Prize for

seeking asylum in the UK in 1993. She was

Fiction nomination) and Village of Stone as well

educated at Oxford, London and Kent. She

as a short story collection, Lovers in the Age of

was awarded a Leverhulme Trust scholarship

Indifference. Her recent novel, I Am China, was

to carry out post-doctoral research, which was

longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Guo’s feature films include

published as Gendered Experiences of Genocide: Anful Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq

How is Your Fish Today (Sundance), UFO in her Eyes (TIFF), Once Upon a Time

in 2001. Hardi has published poetry collections in Kurdish and English. Her

Proletarian (Venice) and She a Chinese, which won the Golden Leopard Award

first English collection was Life for Us (Bloodaxe, 2004). Her latest English

at the 2009 Locarno Film Festival. Her memoir Once Upon a Time in the East was

collection, Considering the Women (Bloodaxe, 2015), was a Poetry Book

just out (Penguin Random House, 2017). She was a named as a 2013 Granta

Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best

Best Young British Novelist and lives in Berlin and London.

Collection. In 2014 she moved back to her birth city of Sulamani to become

www.guoxiaolu.com/

chair of the department of English at the American University of Iraq.

Twitter @XiaoluGuo

www.chomanhardi.com/ Twitter @chomahardi 25


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Maggie Harris

H Michelle Hubbard

Maggie Harris is a Guyana-born poet and

Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard is a performance

prose writer who has lived in the UK since

poet, storyteller/creator, script writer, African

1971. She has BA in African/Caribbean

drummer, cultural arts practitioner and

Studies and an MA in Post-Colonial Studies

workshop facilitator based in Nottingham. She

from The University of Kent, winning the

regularly performs on the UK open mic circuit

T S Eliot Poetry Student Prize there, and

and is a founder member of the spoken word

has taught at Kent and Southampton Universities. As a freelance literature

event BlackDrop. Michelle has been developing her one woman show, Cutting

promoter, she organised a live literature festival, Inscribing the Island, in Thanet

Edge, which is an honest exploration of FGM and other violations bestowed

(2002-4). Her memoir, Kiskadee Girl, was a prize-winner in Kingston University’s

upon women around the world. Michelle’s poetry is published in various

Life Writing Competition. She has won the Guyana Prize twice for her poetry:

anthologies including Poets in the Pink, Edinburgh Review, Caribbean Logic, Hair

Limbolands (2000) and Sixty Years of Loving (2014); and was the Caribbean

Power Skin Revolution and Sweat Beats For Keats. Her work has featured on the

Winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘Sending for Chantal’.

BBC’s website among others. She successfully self-published two books, The

Her latest collection of stories is Writing on Water (Seren, 2017).

Tapestry Of A Black Woman (2005) and The Irish-Jamaican (2007).

Twitter @kaiteurfalls

Twitter @THEmotherH

H Abdullahi Botan Hassan

H Isaiah Hull

Abdullahi Botan Hassan is a Somali poet,

Isaiah Hull is a 19-year-old writer and

writer and researcher. He came to London as a

performer from Old Trafford, Manchester. He

refugee in 1998. Abdullahi plays a crucial role to

was a Roundhouse/BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Words

continue Somali oral traditions in the diaspora,

First finalist. Isaiah has been a member of

adapting traditional poetic forms to make them

Manchester’s young writer’s collective Young

relevant and engaging to Somalis and the

Identity since 2010. Formed in Moss Side,

wider London community. In 2003 he founded Soohan Somali Arts, which works

Young Identity supports teenagers and young adults by using poetry as a means

in primary schools. In 2012 he represented Somalia at Poetry Parnassus, part of

of expressing and exploring both local and global issues through workshops at

the Cultural Olympiad at the Southbank Centre, London, which poets from every

Manchester’s charity-run Contact theatre. Isaiah’s first slam poetry performance

country attended. He translated Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet XII’ for the Globe Theatre’s

was at WORDCUP by Apples and Snakes, where he competed alongside artists

2012 Sonnet Sunday; his poems have appeared in The World Record, Rain Poems

from London, Leeds and Birmingham. His influences include poet Saul Williams,

and The Red Anthology among others and have been translated into English,

author Philip Larkin and Greek tragedies. His performances have taken him up

Arabic and Turkish.

and down the country, from London to the Beatnik Festival in Glasgow.

Twitter @AbdullahiBotan

www.makingcontactmcr.com/about

26


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Aamer Hussein

H Joshua Idehen

Born in 1955 in Karachi, Aamer Hussein moved

Joshua Idehen is a poet, teacher and musician.

to London in 1970. After graduating from

A British-born Nigerian, Joshua founded one

SOAS, he read psychology and philosophy at

of the most successful London poetry events,

Regents College. Aamer’s first story collection

Poejazzi, and also created London’s first app

was Mirror to the Sun (1993); This Other Salt

focused on UK spoken word for IOS and Android.

(1999), Turquoise (2002) and Insomnia (2007)

He has performed alongside Saul Williams and

followed. After two novels, Another Gulmohar Tree (2009) and The Cloud

Ed Sheeran among others. He has produced three critically acclaimed albums:

Messenger (2011), he returned to short stories with The Swan’s Wife (2014);

Benin City’s Fires In The Park (4 Stars, Q Mag) and LV’s Routes and Islands (among

an Indian edition, 37 Bridges, won the 2016 French Embassy/Karachi Literature

FactMag’s best albums of the 2000s). He recently collaborated with The Comet

Festival Prize. Multilingual, he also writes in Urdu and collaborates with his

Is Coming on their debut album, Channel The Spirits, which was nominated for a

Italian translators. He is a Contributing Editor of Asymptote, a Senior Editor of

Mercury Award. He is working on a gig/theatre show with Benin City on London’s

Critical Muslim and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies.

nightlife, a third album with LV and an electronic R&B album with the band Hugh.

Hussein became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004.

Twitter @BeninCitizen

www.aamerhussein.com/

H Khadijah Ibrahiim

H Amina Jama

Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds and is

Amina is a 19-year old Somali-British writer

of Jamaican parentage. She was educated

and a Roundhouse/BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Words

at the University of Leeds, where she gained

First London finalist. Amina was raised

a BA Honours in Arabic and Middle Eastern

in Bow, east London and is a member of

Studies and a MA in Theatre Studies. She is

collectives Octavia, Spit the Atom and

a published poet, live artist, theatre maker,

Barbican Young Poets. As Amina grew up

producer and the Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors. Hailed as one

in the birthplace of grime, music heavily influences her work. She revisits

of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared on many

themes relating to displacement, negotiation of dual cultural, identity and

international stages. Her recent collection, Another Crossing, was published by

family. It has been said that her work is brave and humble with a warm

Peepal Tree Press in 2014 and launched at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

intimacy both on stage and page. She is a co-host of Boxpark Shoreditch’s

www.peepaltreepress.com/authors/khadijah-ibrahiim

spoken word night, BoxedIN. Her work will be featured in an upcoming Saqi Books anthology. She has also been commissioned from the likes of the BBC to the Queens Gallery. Twitter @amxnawrites 27


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Keith Jarrett

H Anjali Joseph

Keith Jarrett writes poetry and short fiction.

Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay and

In 2010, he was simultaneously London and

educated at Trinity College, Cambridge,

UK Poetry Slam Champion. In 2013, his five-

and the University of East Anglia. Saraswati

star reviewed show Identity Mix-Up debuted

Park, her first novel, was published in 2010

at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. In 2014,

and won the Betty Trask Prize, the Desmond

he completed the pioneering Spoken Word

Elliott Prize and the Vodafone Crossword Book

Educators programme, teaching at a secondary school while studying for an

Award for Fiction in India. Another Country, published in 2012, was longlisted

MA at Goldsmiths University; he also won the Rio International Poetry Slam

for the Man Asian Literary Prize. The Living, a tale of two shoemakers, one

championship at the FLUPP favela literary festival. His stories have appeared

in India, one in England, was published in 2016. An extract from the novel

in Attitude and Tell Tales IV among others. Keith’s poetry pamphlet, I Speak

appeared in Granta’s India issue in 2016.

Home, was published last year. He is a PhD scholar at Birkbeck University of

www.anjalijoseph.com

London and completing his first novel. His first full poetry collection, Selah,

Twitter @anjalij

will be published this spring by Burning Eye. www.zoneonetosix.blogspot.com Twitter: @keithjlondon

H Catherine Johnson

H Anthony Joseph

Catherine Johnson was born in London and

Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, musician

is of Jamaican-Welsh heritage. She has

and academic described as ‘the leader of

published over 15 books for young readers in

the black avant-garde in Britain’. He has

a writing career of over 20 years, including

published four poetry collections and a

Sawbones and The Curious Tale of The Lady

novel, The African Origins of UFOs. In 2005 he

Caraboo (Random House), both of which were

was selected by the Arts Council of England

nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Sawbones was also the winner of the

and Renaissance One as one of 50 Black and Asian writers who have made

Young Quills Award for historical fiction. She also writes for film, television

major contributions to contemporary British literature. As a musician he has

and radio, including the 2007 film Bullet Boy, as well as for BBC drama Holby

released six critically acclaimed albums and has collaborated with Archie

City and the Prix Italia nominated radio play Fresh Berries. Her latest book,

Shepp, Jerry Dammers, Joseph Bowie, Keziah Jones, David Rudder and

Blade and Bone, was published in 2016.

Meshell Ndgeocello, who produced his 2014 album, Time. His sixth album,

www.catherinejohnson.co.uk/

Caribbean Roots, was released in 2016. He lectures in creative writing at

Twitter @catwrote

Birkbeck College, London. www.anthonyjoseph.co.uk/ Twitter @adjoseph

28


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Peter Kalu

H Omar El-Khairy

Peter Kalu is the son of Nigerian and Danish

Omar El-Khairy is a playwright, screenwriter

migrants and grew up in Manchester. He

and essayist. His plays include Burst, Sour

began writing at Moss Side Write, a local black

Lips, The Keepers of Infinite Space and The

writing group, and has written eight books to

Chaplain: or, a short tale of how we learned to

date, two radio plays broadcast on the BBC and

love good Muslims whilst torturing bad ones

several works for theatre. His series of young

(Oberon Books). His last play, Homegrown,

adult novels highlight the experience of young Black Britons: The Silent Striker

was commissioned as part of the National Youth Theatre’s 2015 season. It will

(now being filmed), Being Me and Zombie XI (all Hope Road Publishing). His most

be published by fly π rates in 2017. Omar is a founding member of Paper Tiger

recent crime novel is Little Jack Horner (Suitcase Books). Over 30,000 people have borrowed his books from UK libraries and he was Winner of a 2003 BBC Dangerous

(www.papertiger.org.uk), a theatre and filmmakers’ collective; and of Shade (www.collectiveshade.com), a digital magazine covering art, culture and

Comedy Award. He works occasionally as a French and Spanish translator and is a

politics. His first short film, No Exit, received its world premiere at the 2016

PhD student in creative writing at Lancaster University.

Dubai International Film Festival and screened nationally and internationally.

www.peterkalu.com/

Omar holds a PhD in Sociology from the LSE.

Twitter @peterkalu

www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/omar-el-khairy Twitter @TheloniousO

H Jackie Kay

H Farhana Khalique

Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 and

Farhana Khalique is a writer, voiceover and

has written all her life. Her poetry collections

teacher. She was born in south-west London

have won or been shortlisted for awards

and is of Bangladeshi heritage. Her first

across the board. Her first novel, Trumpet,

published short story appeared in The Asian

won the Author’s Club First Novel Award and

Writer’s celebration-themed debut anthology

The Guardian Fiction Prize. Her first novel

Happy Birthday to Me in 2010; further stories

for children, Strawgirl, a lyrical slice of magical realism, was a huge critical

have appeared in The Asian Writer and Carillon magazines. Farhana has also

success. In 2006 Jackie was awarded an MBE. Her book, Red Dust Road,

been teaching English for over ten years and can be heard on TV as a Channel

about the search for her biological parents, won the 2011 Scottish Investment

4 continuity announcer. Her next story will appear in The Asian Writer’s Dividing

Mortgage Trust Book of the Year. Her novel, Reality, Reality, was published in

Lines, an anthology on the theme of borders, boundaries and belonging. The

2012 by Pan Macmillan. She is Chancellor of the University of Salford.

collection celebrates ten years of the magazine and the 70th anniversary of

In March 2016, Kay was appointed the Makar or National Poet for Scotland

Indian independence, and will be published by Dahlia Publishing in April 2017.

for a five year term.

Farhana lives in south-west London with her family.

Twitter @JackieKayPoet

Twitter @HanaKhalique 29


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Mimi Khalvati

H Vanessa Kisuule

Mimi Khalvati was born in Tehran, Iran, and

Vanessa Kisuule is a writer, performer and spoken

grew up in England. She has published eight

word artist based in Bristol. She has won several

collections with Carcanet Press, including

slam titles including, most recently, Hammer and

The Meanest Flower, shortlisted for the 2007

Tongue National Slam 2014 and the Nuoryican

T S Eliot Prize, and Child: New and Selected

Poetry Slam in New York. She has worked with

Poems 1991-2011, a Poetry Book Society

the Southbank Centre, RADA, Bristol City Council

Special Commendation. She was poet in residence at the Royal Mail and

and had her work featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Dazed and

has held fellowships with the Royal Literary Fund at City University and at

Confused, Sky TV and TEDx in Vienna. She represented the UK in two European Slam

the International Writing Program in Iowa. She is the founder of The Poetry

Championships in Sweden and Belgium, completed a ten-day tour of Germany in 2015

School, where she teaches in London. Her awards include a Cholmondeley

and spoke at the 2016 Global Forum of Migration and Development in Bangladesh.

Award from the Society of Authors. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of

Her debut poetry collection, Joyriding The Storm, was published in 2014. She has

Literature and of The English Society. Her most recent collection, The Weather

performed at festivals including Shambala, WOMAD and Glastonbury.

Wheel, is a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

www.burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/tag/vanessa-kisuule

www.mimikhalvati.co.uk/

Twitter @Vanessa_Kisuule

H Shamshad Khan

H Chanje Kunda

Shamshad Khan is a poet and coach in

Chanje Kunda is a Manchester-based poet,

creative writing, resilience and inspired living.

playwright and performance artist. She has

She works with individuals and organisations

performed at the Calabash Literature Festival

using writing as a tool to empower and

Jamaica and Rise London Unite Music

develop communities. Her poetry collection

Festival among others. In 2012 she had a

Megalomaniac published by Salt Publishing

year- long artist residency in the Netherlands.

was a set text on the English Literature degree at Lancaster University.

Her collection of poetry Amsterdam (Crocus Books, 2013), was dramatised

Shamshad has edited poetry anthologies; collaborated with musicians, deaf

for the stage and has been touring since 2014. It was part of 2015’s Talawa

signers and beatboxers; been featured on BBC’s The Verb and at international

Firsts Season, which celebrates the best in new work by Black British theatre

literature festivals. She is currently working on a show, the moon watcher, with

artists. In 2015 she won the BBC’s Verb New Voices Award. Chanje toured

the Horse and Bamboo puppet theatre.

South Africa in 2016, including The National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and

www.shamshadkhan27.wordpress.com

the 969 Festival, Johannesburg. In 2017 she was given a creative fellowship at the Manchester International Festival. www.chanjekunda.com/ Twitter @ChanjeKunda

30


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Zaffar Kunial

H Nikita Lalwani

Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and

Nikita Lalwani is a novelist born in Rajasthan,

lives in Hebden Bridge. His first collection of

India and raised in Cardiff, Wales. Her work

verse was published as part of the Faber New

has been translated into 16 languages. Her

Poets series. Choosing it as one of her 2014

first book, Gifted, was longlisted for the

books of the year for The Herald, Jackie Kay

Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa

announced: ‘His poems are precise, startling

First Novel Award, The Sunday Times Young

in their originality, full of grace. Kunial traces the roots in language to then

Writer of the Year Award and won the Desmond Elliot Prize for Fiction; her

track the roots in his mixed race identity, effortlessly transporting the reader

second, The Village (2012), won the 2013 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award.

from one place to another’. His poem ‘Hill Speak’ was a National Poetry

Lalwani has written for The Guardian, The New Statesman and The Observer

Competition prize-winner; and ‘Us’ was included in The Map and the Clock

and contributed to AIDS Sutra, an anthology exploring the lives of people

(ed. Carol Ann Duffy; Faber, 2016). Zaffar was the 2014 Poet-in-Residence for

living with HIV/AIDS in India. She is a trustee of the British human rights

the Wordsworth Trust and, before this, he worked as a ‘Creative Writer’ for

organisation Liberty and in 2013 was a book judge for the Orwell Prize,

Hallmark Cards.

Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing.

Twitter @ZaffarKunial

www.nikitalalwani.com/

H Hari Kunzru

H Tariq Latif

Born in London, Hari Kunzru is the author of

Tariq Latif was born in a small village outside

the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My

Lahore in Pakistan. He graduated from

Revolutions and Gods Without Men, as well as

Sheffield University with a degree in physics

a short story collection, Noise, and a novella,

and worked in Manchester for 15 years in

Memory Palace. His novel White Tears will be

a family printing business. He has recently

published in spring 2017 by Hamish Hamilton

moved to the outback of Argyll and Bute

in the UK and Knopf in the USA. He was a 2008 Cullman Fellow at the New

where he works part-time as a telephone sales person and spends his free

York Public Library, a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2016 Fellow of the

time roaming the Scottish Highlands and writing occasional verse. He was the

American Academy in Berlin. He lives in New York City.

First Prize winner of The Daily Mail National Poetry Competition 2004 and his

www.harikunzru.com/

work has been featured on BBC2 television and BBC Radio 4. His most recent

Twitter @harikunzru

pamphlet, Smithereens (2015), was the fourth collection of his work to be published by Arc Publications. www.arcpublications.co.uk/writers/tariq-latif

31


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Patrice Lawrence

H V H Leslie

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought

V H Leslie’s short stories have appeared

up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in mid-Sussex.

in a range of speculative publications and

She lives in London. Her short stories for children

anthologies including Black Static, Interzone

and adults have been published in anthologies

and Shadows and Tall Trees. Her short story

by Hamish Hamilton, Scholastic and Peepal Tree

collection Skein and Bone (Undertow Books)

Press. Her first young adult novel, Orangeboy, was

was a finalist for both the 2016 British Fantasy

published in 2016 (Hodder Children’s) and was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book

Award and World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Leslie was a finalist for

Award 2016, nominated for the 2017 Carnegie Award and longlisted for the inaugural

the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for her novelette, ‘The Quiet Room’, and won

Jhalak Prize. Her second novel, Indigo Donut, is out in July 2017. Patrice has an MA

the 2013 International Lightship First Chapter Prize. She has been awarded

(Distinction) in Creative Writing for Film and TV and is the programme manager for

Fellowships at Hawthornden Castle and the Saari Institute, Finland, where she

Spread The Word, London’s Writer Development Agency. In the last 20 years, Patrice has

was researching Nordic water myths for her PhD. Her non-fiction has appeared

worked and delivered training in equality, social justice and cultural competence.

in History Today, The English Review, Emag, Thresholds and This is Horror.

www.carolinesheldon.co.uk/?clients=patrice-lawrence

Her debut novel, Bodies of Water, was published in 2016 (Salt Publishing).

Twitter @lawrencepatrice

www.vhleslie.wordpress.com/

H Segun Lee-French

H Winnie M Li

Segun has worked as a singer, poet, composer,

Winnie M Li is a writer and producer who

playwright, film-maker & club promoter. As

has worked in the creative industries on

singer for triphop band Earthling, he toured

three continents. A Harvard graduate, she

across Europe, performing on MTV, BBC1, VH1

has written for travel guide books, produced

& Canal 5. As a poet and playwright, Segun’s

independent feature films, programmed for

work has been commissioned for broadcast on

film festivals and developed eco-tourism

BBC Radio. Segun’s debut solo show, Bro 9 at Contact Theatre, won Best Fringe

projects. After completing her MA with Distinction in Creative Writing at

Performer & Best Design in the 2003 Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards.

Goldsmiths, she now writes and speaks across a range of media, runs arts

Segun has been nominated for the Arts Foundation Performance Poetry Award

festivals and is a PhD researcher in media and communications at the London

and his first poetry collection, Praise Songs for Aliens, was published in 2009. His

School of Economics. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger

most recent play, Palm Wine & Stout, featured on Radio 4 Midweek and toured

2015 and won second place in the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2016. She lives in

the UK in 2014. He is currently writing Jimmy Jimmy, a musical psychodrama

London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Dark Chapter is her first novel.

about legendary jazz singer Jimmy Scott.

www.WinnieMLi.com

www.segunleefrench.wordpress.com/ Twitter @Shegelu

Twitter @WinnieMLi

32


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Theresa Lola

H Hannah Lowe

Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet. She

Hannah Lowe’s first poetry collection Chick

was shortlisted for the 2016 Bridport Poetry

(Bloodaxe, 2013) won the Michael Murphy

Prize, 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize and

Memorial Award for Best First Collection and

was one of the winners of the 2016 Magic

was shortlisted for the Forward, Aldeburgh

Oxygen Poetry Prize. Her poem ‘Portrait of

and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection

Us as Snow White’ was selected as a highly

Prizes. In September 2014, she was named

commended winner in the 2016 Charles Causley International Poetry Prize.

as one of 20 Next Generation poets. She has also published three chapbooks,

She is a Barbican Young Poet Alumni, a programme led by Jacob Sam-La

including Ormonde (Hercules Editions, 2014), a cycle of poems and archive

Rose. She is a part of the Octavia Women of Colour Collective led by Rachel

material exploring the 1947 arrival of the S S Ormonde, which carried some

Long and is a part of the creative collective SXWKS. Theresa Lola is the 2017

of the first post-war Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1947. Her memoir is

Hammer and Tongue National Slam Champion.

Long Time No See (Periscope, 2015) and her latest poetry collection is Chan

Twitter @theresa_lola

(Bloodaxe, 2016). www.hannahlowe.org/ Twitter @hannahlowepoet

H Rachel Long

H Sabrina Mahfouz

Rachel Long is a poet and facilitator. She is

Sabrina Mahfouz was raised in London and

an alumni of the Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship

Cairo. Her work includes: the plays Chef, With

scheme (2015-16) and current assistant tutor

a Little Bit of Luck, Clean, Battleface and the

to Jacob Sam-La Rose on the Barbican Young

love i feel is red; the poetry collection How You

Poets programme. Her poems have featured

Might Know Me; the literary anthology The

in Magma, The London Magazine and The

Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women

Honest Ulsterman. She is the leader of Octavia, a poetry collective for women

Write; and the BBC shows Breaking the Code, Railway Nation: A Journey In Verse

of colour at the Southbank Centre, London. Octavia have been commissioned

and We Are Here. She received a Fringe First Award for Chef and won a Sky

by the BBC World Service, have run poetry workshops for The Serpentine

Arts Academy Poetry Award.

Galleries and performed at Women of the World and the 2016 London

www.sabrinamahfouz.com/

Literature Festival. Inspired by Octavia, she has curated Telling Her Story, an

Twitter @SabrinaMahfouz

open workshop series for women of colour, hosted and in partnership with the Southbank Centre. www.writesrachell.com/ Twitter @rachelnalong 33


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Nick Makoha

H Anjum Malik

Nick Makoha is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow

Anjum Malik has written several original radio

who represented Uganda at Poetry Parnassus

plays as well as two series of an original BBC

as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in

Radio 4 Woman’s Hour drama, The Interpreter.

London. His one-man-Show My Father & Other

She also adapted Napoleon Rising, based on

Superheroes debuted to sold-out performances

an unperformed Anthony Burgess play, for

at the 2013 London Literature Festival. In 2005

BBC Radio 3. She is currently developing an

award-winning publisher flipped eye launched its pamphlet series with his The

original pilot script, Groom, following participation in LFS’ Bootcamp. Anjum

Lost Collection of an Invisible Man. Part of his forthcoming first full collection, The

has also written for the stage and was writer in residence for the Kali Theatre

Kingdom Of Gravity, is in the Seven New Generation African Poets anthology. He

Company. She is an honorary writing fellow of Manchester Metropolitan

is the 2016 winner of the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his

University and a published poet. Before working as a writer, Anjum worked as

manuscript Resurrection Man (Jai-Alai Books, Spring 2017). He won the 2015

a policewoman and a police interpreter.

Brunel University International African Poetry prize and has poems in The Poetry

www.davidhigham.co.uk/filmclients/anjum-malik/

Review, Rialto, Boston Review, Callaloo and Wasafiri.

Twitter @anjummalik

www.nickmakoha.com Twitter @NickMakoha

H Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

H Gautam Malkani

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan

first novel, Londonstani (4th Estate, 2006), was

novelist and short story writer living in

described by The Observer as ‘A bold debut,

Manchester. She has a PhD from Lancaster

brimming with energy and authenticity, verve

University. Jennifer has taught creative writing

and nerve’. The Independent on Sunday called

and English for ten years in British universities.

it ‘Enthralling, addictive, bold and vigorous’.

Gautam Malkani is a London-based writer. His

Her novel, Kintu, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013, came out in 2014

His second novel, A Story Distorted, is about the hidden and twisted lives

and was longlisted for the 2014 Etisalat Prize. Jennifer’s short story, ‘Let’s Tell

of teenagers who are the primary carers for sick, incapacitated or addicted

This Story Properly’, won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In 2015

parents. Its publication is currently being crowdfunded by Unbound. He was

she won an Arts Council Grant to research her second novel, The First Woman

a journalist for The Financial Times for 19 years, most recently as associate

was Fish. Her short story ‘Malik’s Door’ came out in Closure: Contemporary Black

editor of FT Weekend Magazine. His journalism has also appeared in the New

British Short Stories; ‘The Nod’, will be published in the Bare Lit ’16 Anthology in

York Times and The Guardian.

2017. Jennifer is currently working on a short story collection set in Manchester.

www.gautam-malkani.squarespace.com/

www.jennifermakumbi.net/

Twitter @GautamMalkani

34


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Femi Martin

H James Massiah

Femi Martin is a writer and performer

James Massiah is a poet and DJ from south

from London, based in Surrey. She began

London who shares his work via The A & The

performing flash fiction on London’s spoken

E, a philosophy and arts project founded in

word scene before becoming the 2012 Dickens

2012 to explore ideas about sexuality and

Young Writer in Residence. The Achalasia

ethics through performance, writing and

Diaries, a documentary about the development

visual media. He has been commissioned to

of Femi’s chronic illness and her decision to pursue her writing, aired on BBC

produce work for the BBC, The Guardian, Britvic and Nike, as well as featuring

Radio 4 in 2015 and was a selected BBC Radio 4 Highlight of the Week; she

in campaigns for Levi’s and Dr Martens. He has performed readings of his

then hosted the BBC Radio 4 podcast, Seriously (Feb.-Oct. 2016). Femi’s solo

work at the Southbank Centre, Tate Modern, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

theatre show, How to Die of a Broken Heart, premiered in 2016, developed

and the Houses of Parliament among others.

with support from Battersea Arts Centre and Talawa Theatre Company. She

www.jamesmassiah.com/

is currently writing her first full-length play, I Am Not There, with support from

Twitter @JamesMassiah

Soho Theatre, Talawa Theatre Company and The Carne Trust. www.femimartin.com Twitter @FemiMartin

H S I Martin

H Irfan Master

Specialising in the fields of Black British

Irfan Master is the author of A Beautiful

history and literature, S I Martin is a writer

Lie (Bloomsbury), which was shortlisted

and researcher who has undertaken black

for Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and

history projects for numerous organisations

Branford Boase Award for debut authors.

including English Heritage, Black Cultural

Recently he has been published in an anthology

Archives, National Maritime Museum,

of diverse stories by Leicestershire writers, Lost

Museum of London, the London boroughs of Lambeth, Wandsworth, Tower

and Found, on the theme of home (Dahlia Publishing, 2016); a story for a graphic

Hamlets, Camden and the BBC. He is the author of Incomparable World and

novel anthology about Partition, This Side, That Side (Yoda Press); a radio play,

Britain’s Slave Trade and is the founder of the 500 Years of Black London

For the Love of Something, commissioned by Leicester University; and a short

walking and boat tours. His historical novels for younger readers are Jupiter

story, ‘Once Upon a Time’, for Booktrust, which was adapted into a touring show

Williams and Jupiter Amidships.

aimed at Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Somali families to encourage and celebrate

www.simartin.org.uk

storytelling. His forthcoming novel for young adults, Out of Heart (Hot Key Books)

Twitter @simartin

is out in 2017. www.irfanmaster.com Twitter @irfan_master 35


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Marc Matthews

H Karen McCarthy Woolf

Marc Matthews was born in Guyana. He

Karen McCarthy Woolf is a writer, editor and

worked for Radio Demerara, as a scriptwriter

critic whose debut collection An Aviary of Small

and researcher/presenter for the Guyana

Birds was selected as a Guardian/Observer

Broadcasting Service and as a tutor in

Book of the Year, shortlisted for the Forward and

drama at Cyril Potter Teachers Training

Fenton Aldeburgh Prizes and described in The

College. In the 1960s he came to London as a

Poetry Review as ‘extraordinarily moving’. Karen

freelance reporter and became involved with the UK Black Power movement

was 2015 writer-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum, responding to

and alternative theatre productions. He was part of the Caribbean Artists

an exhibit on migration. Her work appears in numerous literary journals and is

Movement and had a pioneering role as a nation language performance poet.

translated into Swedish, Turkish and Spanish and she has read in Europe, Mexico

An unbound pamphlet of his poems, Eleven O’Clock Goods, came out in Trinidad

City, Singapore, the USA and the Caribbean. She has edited four anthologies

(Kairi, 1974) and he released the record Marc-Up in 1987. In 1988, he won

including Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014) and Ten: The Next Generation

the Guyana Prize for his first collection of poetry Guyana My Altar (Karnak

(Bloodaxe, 2017). Recent commissions include new work for BBC Radio. She

House, 1987).

currently teaches at the Faber Academy and the University of London.

www.peepaltreepress.com/authors/marc-matthews

www.mccarthywoolf.com/ Twitter @KMcCarthyWoolf

H Ali May

H Roy McFarlane

Ali May was born in Iran and his childhood

Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of

was consumed by the eight-year war with

Jamaican parentage and spent most of his

Iraq. War, as a result, is one of the focal

years living in Wolverhampton. He has held

points of his writing. Having grown up

the roles of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate,

amidst stifling repression, the concepts of

Starbucks’ and the Shakespeare Birthplace

liberty, choice and individualism shaped his

Trust Poet in Residence. Roy was highly

intellectual framework. These are subjects that he writes about, alongside

commended by the Forward Prize for his poem ‘Papers’, published in the

sex. Geography of Attraction, his collection of short stories about sex and

Forward Book of Poetry 2017. His work has appeared in other anthologies,

travel, was published in 2015. One of his stories was published in the

including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012) and he is the writer and editor

anthology Desire: 100 of Literature’s Sexiest Stories (2016), alongside Anaïs

of Celebrate Wha? Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack,

Nin, D H Lawrence and James Joyce. He was a recipient of the 2007 Decibel

2011). His first full collection of poems, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was

Penguin Prize. He works in TV as a creator and presenter.

published by Nine Arches Press in 2016.

www.ali-may.com

www.roymcfarlane.com

Twitter @alimaytv

Twitter @RoyPoetryinBrum

36


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Jamal Mehmood

H Frances Mensah Williams

The winner of Poetry Rivals 2015, Jamal

Frances Mensah Williams was born in Ghana

Mehmood has had poetry and essays

and as a child lived in the USA and Austria

published on various online and offline

before settling in London. Following her

platforms including Media Diversified and

successful non-fiction books Everyday Heroes

BBC Asian Network. In 2016, his essay

– Learning from the Careers of Successful Black

‘Language, Life and Love: Our Immigrant

Professionals and I Want to Work in Africa:

Parents’ was published in Media Diversified’s From the Lines of Dissent

How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent, Frances’s first

(Out-spoken Press). The collection of essays by 14 BAME writers in the UK

novel, From Pasta to Pigfoot, was published in 2015 by Jacaranda Books and

touches on a numerous topics around what it means to be a person of colour

selected as one of W H Smith Travel’s Top 30 bestsellers. The sequel, From

in modern Britain. His debut collection of poetry, Little Boy Blue (Burning Eye

Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings, was published in 2016. A busy entrepreneur

Books), is an eclectic mix that looks at family, nostalgia and social pain as

and career consultant, Frances is CEO of Interims for Development Ltd and

well as personal stories of identity and belonging. He is looking to write for

Managing Editor of online careers and business portal, ReConnectAfrica.com.

film in the near future.

www.francesmensahwilliams.com/

www.jamalbhai.com/

H Tariq Mehmood

H Emily Midorikawa

Tariq Mehmood grew up in Bradford and is

Emily Midorikawa is the author of A Secret

currently Assistant Professor in the English

Sisterhood: the Hidden Friendships of Austen,

Department at the American University in

Brontё, Eliot and Woolf, co-written with Emma

Beirut, Lebanon. He is co-director of the

Claire Sweeney and with a foreword by

documentary Injustice. His latest novel is Song

Margaret Atwood (Aurum Press,UK; June 2017;

of Gulzarina (Daraja, 2016). His first novel,

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA, autumn 2017).

Hand on the Sun, was published in 1983, much of it written in jail or on bail on

Emma and Emily also run the website SomethingRhymed.com, which profiles

charges of terrorism during a case which was known as the Bradford 12. He

the literary friendships of female writers. Emily won the 2015 Lucy Cavendish

was acquitted. His second novel, While There Is Light, was published in 2003.

Fiction Prize and her work has been published in The Daily Telegraph, The

Tariq has also published several illustrated books and one novel, Courageous

Independent on Sunday, The Times and Mslexia. Her short memoir ‘The Memory

Ali and the Heartless King, for children. He writes in two languages, English

Album’ appears in Tangled Roots, an anthology edited by Katy Massey which

and Pothowari, his mother tongue. Tariq won the 2013 Frances Lincoln Diverse

celebrates the experiences of mixed-race families. Emily is a graduate of UEA’s

Voices Children’s Book Award for You’re Not Proper.

MA in creative writing and she now teaches at NYU London.

www.darajapress.com/authors/tariq-mehmood

www.emilymidorikawa.com/ Twitter @EmilyMidorikawa 37


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Bridget Minamore

H Abir Mukherjee

Bridget Minamore is a writer and journalist

Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of

from south-east London. Having started writing

Scotland and has been a fan of crime

with the National Theatre, she has been

fiction since his teenage years. The child of

commissioned by the Royal Opera House and

immigrants from India, his debut novel, A

Historic England, performed at the Roundhouse

Rising Man, was inspired by a desire to learn

and the Southbank Centre and been a guest

more about this crucial period in Anglo-Indian

on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. With Point Blank Poets she has performed in

history that seems to have been almost forgotten. It has been shortlisted

Rome and Vancouver, and was shortlisted to be London’s first Young People's

for the Jhalak Prize, won the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph Crime Writing

Laureate. In 2015 Bridget was chosen as one of The Hospital Club’s Emerging

Competition and upon launch was Crime Book of the Month in both The Times

Creatives. She has an English degree from UCL, regularly teaches drama and

and The Sunday Times. His second novel, A Necessary Evil, will be published in

poetry workshops and is part of the creative team behind Brainchild Festival.

June 2017. Abir lives in London with his wife and two sons.

Bridget has written for The Guardian, Pitchfork, The Pool and Newsweek. Her first

www.rcwlitagency.com/authors/mukherjee-abir/

poetry pamphlet, Titanic (Out-Spoken Press), came out in 2016.

Twitter @radiomukhers

www.bridgetminamore.com/ Twitter @bridgetminamore

H Avaes Mohammad

H Raman Mundair

Avaes Mohammad is a poet, playwright and

Raman Mundair is the award-winning author

essayist born in Blackburn. Works for theatre

of Lovers, Liars, Conjurers and Thieves, A

and radio include In God We Trust, The Student,

Choreographer’s Cartography, The Algebra

Fields of Grey and his double bill on the two

of Freedom and is the editor of Incoming:

faces of British extremism: Hurling Rubble at

Some Shetland Voices. Her writing is bold,

the Sun and Hurling Rubble at the Moon. Avaes’s

mischievous, cutting edge and potent with

scripts have chronicled the changing landscape of multicultural Britain in a post-

poetic imagery and integrity. Her writing plays with the intersections of race,

9/11 landscape for over a decade. As a poet his influences range from the Sufi

gender, sexuality and class and challenges notions of British and colonial

Saints of South Asia to the dub poets of Jamaica. He regularly performs across

histories and identities. She has published poetry, fiction, drama and non-fiction

the UK and was recipient of the Amnesty International Media Award for his

and has performed her work around the world from Aberdeen to Zimbabwe.

poem ‘Bhopal’. Writing mainly on themes of integration, Avaes’s essays can be

Raman was awarded a Leverhulme Artists Residency, a Robert Louis Stevenson

found across the national press as examples of critical thought leadership.

Award and is a Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative nominee. She regards

www.avaesmohammad.com/ Twitter @AvaesMohammad

herself as an outsider writer artist who writes, makes art, film and installation. www.shetlandamenity.org/the-artist

38


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Amita Murray

H Daljit Nagra

Amita Murray is a writer based in London.

Daljit Nagra is from a Sikh background and

In 2016, her short story collection Marmite

was born and grew up in west London, then

and Mango Chutney won the SI Leeds Literary

Sheffield. His poem ‘Look We Have Coming

Award. The collection was partly written

to Dover!’ won the 2004 Forward Prize for

during a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence grant

Best Individual Poem; his collection of the

at University College London. Having lived in

same name won the 2007 Forward Prize for

and around London, Delhi and California, Amita plays with the love stories

Best First Collection and the 2008 South Bank Show Decibel Award. Tippoo

that crawl out of the woodwork when cultures collide. Her stories about

Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!! and his version of the

immigrants, tourists and restless inhabitants have been published in Wasafiri,

Ramayana were nominated for the T S Eliot Prize. Daljit is the inaugural Poet

J-Journal, SAND, Brand, the Berkeley Fiction Review and others. In her novel

in Residence for BBC Radio 4/4 Extra and teaches at Brunel University London.

Paper Boats two characters meet in the American Midwest and try to figure

He has judged awards including the David Cohen Prize. His poems have been

out if, in the midst of social turmoil, we can ever find a place in the world to

published in The New Yorker and The New Statesman among others and he has

call home.

performed internationally.

Tiwtter @AmitaMurray

www.daljitnagra.com/

H André Naffis-Sahely

H Beverley Naidoo

André Naffis-Sahely was born in Venice in 1985 to

Beverley Naidoo joined the resistance to

an Iranian father and an Italian mother, but raised

apartheid as a student in South Africa, leading

in Abu Dhabi. His poetry has been featured in

to detention without trial and exile. She began

Ambit, Areté, The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt),

writing in Britain while working as a teacher.

New Poetries VI (Carcanet, 2015) and Swimmers

Her award-winning Journey to Jo’burg was

among others. His non-fiction writing has appeared

banned in South Africa until 1991. Many

in such publications as Poetry, The Nation, Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman

awards include the Carnegie Medal for The Other Side of Truth about young

and The Independent. He has been awarded fellowships from bodies including the

refugees, and the African Studies Association Children’s Book Award for No

MacDowell Colony and the Dar al-Ma’mûn Foundation. He is also a literary translator

Turning Back, Out of Bounds and Burn My Heart. Death of an Idealist: In Search of

from the Italian and the French; his Beyond The Barbed Wire: Selected Poems of

Neil Aggett is her biography of the young medical doctor and trade unionist who

Abdellatif Laâbi (Carcanet, 2016) received a PEN Translates Award. His debut collection

died in apartheid detention. Widely translated, she has been nominated for the

of poetry, The Promised Land, will be published by Penguin in 2017.

Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren Memorial Awards and has three

www.penguin.co.uk/authors/andre-naffis-sahely/129377/

honorary doctorates for her work.

Twitter @anaffissahely

www.beverleynaidoo.com Twitter @DeathofIdealist 39


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Bobby Nayyar

H Selina Nwulu

Bobby Nayyar was born in Handsworth,

Selina Nwulu is a writer, poet and essayist

Birmingham in 1979. He read French and

based in London. She was 2015-16 Young

Italian at Trinity College, Cambridge and

People's Laureate for London. Her first

Comparative Literature at the University

chapbook collection, The Secrets I Let Slip

of Chicago. He has been published in the

(Burning Eye Books, 2015), is a Poetry Book

Mango Shake and Too Asian, Not Asian Enough

Society recommendation. She writes for

anthologies and journals including Wasafiri, Aesthetica and The Woven Tale

online outlets such as The Guardian and Red Pepper. She has toured nationally

Press. He founded Limehouse Books in 2009, publishing his debut novel,

with Apples and Snakes as part of the Public Address II tour; and at festivals

West of No East, in 2011 and The No Salaryman two years later. In 2016, he

including Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Cúirt Festival (Eire) and Fiery Tongues

published his debut poetry collection, Glass Scissors, which received a Word

Festival (Holland). She has just returned from a British Council literary tour

Masala Award; Debjani Chatterjee MBE said, ‘Rarely does a debut poetry

in India. She is currently Writer and Creator in Residence at the Free Word

collection show such remarkable promise’.

Centre and Wellcome Trust, looking creatively at food and connections

www.bobbynayyar.com/

between our health and matters of social justice.

Twitter @bobbynayyar

www.selinanwulu.com/ Twitter @SelinaNwulu

H Grace Nichols

H Solomon OB

Grace Nichols was born and educated in

Solomon OB is an artist, musician and poet

Guyana. She came to Britain in 1977. Her first

who was born in London and now lives in

poetry collection, I Is A Long Memoried Woman,

Bristol. He was crowned Hammer and Tongue

won the 1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

Slam Champion in 2016 and has gone from

Other books include The Fat Black Woman’s

strength to strength ever since. Featured

Poems; Sunris, winner of the Guyana Poetry

on BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio 5Live and

Prize; and Startling The Flying Fish, all published by Virago who also published

The Guardian online, he is a lover of dynamic displays of lyricism, delivering

her novel, Whole of a Morning Sky. Her more recent books are Picasso, I Want My

passionate and engaging performances and constantly looking to push his

Face Back and I Have Crossed an Ocean (Bloodaxe). She was poet-in-residence at

own boundaries. Armed with a new live band supporting the likes of Chali

The Tate Gallery, London 1999-2000, received a 2001 Cholmondeley Award and

2na, 2017 serves as his arrival as a solo artist, with his forthcoming debut EP

an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hull and is a Fellow of The Royal

The Writing is Real coming later in the year.

Society of Literature. Her latest collection for young people is Cosmic Disco

Twitter @SolomonConcepts

(Frances Lincoln, 2013). www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/grace-nichols 40


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Sanjida O’Connell

H Musa Okwonga

Dr Sanjida O’Connell has published six novels

Musa Okwonga is a poet, journalist and

and four works of non-fiction. Her first novel,

musician who studied law at Oxford

Theory of Mind, won a Betty Trask Award;

University and is a City-trained solicitor. He

her second, Angel Bird, was shortlisted for

has written one poetry collection, Eating Roses

the Asian Award for Literature; and her

For Dinner, and two football books: A Cultured

fifth, Bone by Bone (a Sanjida Kay thriller),

Left Foot (nominated for the 2008 William

was longlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger Award. Sanjida is also a wildlife

Hill Sports Book of the Year Award) and Will You Manage?. He contributed

television presenter and has directed documentaries and written features for

to The Good Immigrant, an award-winning collection of essays on race and

national media. She mentors at the University of Bristol; runs creative writing

immigration, and has written regularly for, among others, The Economist, The

workshops for First Story; and is writing her third Sanjida Kay thriller. Sanjida

New Statesman and ESPN. In 2014 he co-wrote and presented The Burden of

has a PhD on how chimpanzees think; her fiction often features nature, as well

Beauty, the BBC World Service’s flagship World Cup documentary. Described

as tackling complex issues surrounding race. She is a Royal Literary Fellow.

by Q Magazine as ‘a globe-trotting Mike Skinner’, his music has been featured

www.sanjida.co.uk/

by BBC Radio 6 and Okayafrica. He lives in Berlin.

Twitter @SanjidaKay

www.okwonga.com/ Twitter @Okwonga

H Irenosen Okojie

H David Olusoga

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and arts project

David Olusoga is a writer and TV presenter

manager. Her debut novel, Butterfly Fish, won

and producer. Born in Nigeria, he is the

a Betty Trask Award. Her work has been

author of The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s

featured in The Observer, The Guardian and The

Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of

Huffington Post amongst other publications,

Nazism (2010), The World’s War (2014), which

as well as on the BBC. Her short stories have

won First World War Book of the Year at the

been published internationally. She was presented at the London Short Story

2015 Political Book Awards, and Black & British: A Forgotten History (2016),

Festival by Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and was featured in

nominated for the 2017 Jhalak Prize. His TV series Britain’s Forgotten Slave

the Evening Standard Magazine as one of London’s exciting new authors. Her

Owners (BBC 2) won a BAFTA, the Screen Nation Factual Award and the Royal

short story collection Speak Gigantular published by Jacaranda Books has been

Historical Society Public History Prize. The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers

longlisted for the Jhalak Prize.

of Empire (BBC 2) won two CDN Awards. David writes for The Guardian, The

www.jacarandabooksartmusic.co.uk/writer/irenosen-okojie-2/

Observer and BBC History Magazine among others. He will be presenting the

Twitter @IrenosenOkojie

forthcoming BBC 2 series Civilisations. www.unitedagents.co.uk/david-olusoga Twitter @DavidOlusoga 41


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Chibundu Onuzo

H Diriye Osman

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Lagos, Nigeria

Diriye Osman was born in 1983 and is a

in 1991. Her first novel, The Spider King’s

British-Somali author, essayist, critic and

Daughter, won a Betty Trask Award; it was

visual artist. His debut collection of short

shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the

stories, Fairytales For Lost Children, won the

Commonwealth Book Prize and was longlisted

Polari Prize for Fiction and was acclaimed

for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat

by The Guardian, The Independent, Dazed and

Prize for Literature. Her second novel, Welcome to Lagos, was published in

Confused and Elle amongst others. His first novel, We Once Belonged to the Sea,

2016. Onuzo is completing a PhD on the West African Students’ Union at

will be published in autumn 2018.

King’s College, London.

www.diriyeosman.com

www.faber.co.uk/tutors/chibundu-onuzo/ Twitter @ChibunduOnuzo

H Tobi Oredein

H Helen Oyeyemi

Tobi Oredein is a writer, entrepreneur and

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of several highly

public speaker from London. A graduate of

acclaimed novels, including White is for

Kings College London, in 2014 she launched the

Witching (which won a Somerset Maugham

online publication Black Ballad, which tells the

Award), Mr Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird. She wrote

stories of Black British women’s experiences.

her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while still at

It has positioned itself as the leading lifestyle

school studying for her A levels at Cardinal

website for Black British women, covering issues such as disability, politics,

Vaughan Memorial School. While studying social and political sciences at

beauty, Brexit, mental health and more. Tobi is also a prominent voice in

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, two of her plays, Juniper’s Whitening

mainstream women’s lifestyle media, writing about race, feminism, beauty

and Victimese, were performed by fellow students to critical acclaim and

politics and popular culture. She has written for British Glamour, Buzzfeed, Elle,

subsequently published by Methuen. She has been included in Granta’s Best

The Debrief, The Independent, The Pool, Vice and more. She was part of BBC’s

Young British Novelists. Her latest book, the story collection What Is Not Yours

2016 Black and British Season, appearing as a panellist on BBC 1Xtra’s big

Is Not Yours, was published in 2016.

debate. She is currently working on a book about Black British feminism.

www.helenoyeyemi.com/

www.blackballad.co.uk/ Twitter: IamTobiOredein 42


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Shereen Pandit

H Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Shereen Pandit was born in Cape Town, South

A 2007 recipient of Ghana’s ACRAG award,

Africa in the apartheid era. She became a

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor and

lawyer, lecturer, political activist and trade

socio-cultural commentator. He wrote the

unionist. Having attracted the adverse

hybrid novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, which is

attention of the apartheid authorities, Pandit

translated into Dutch, German, Spanish,

became a political exile in the UK, completing

French, Italian, Catalan and Japanese.

a PhD in law, while continuing her activism and writing. Her work, published

Shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize, it won the Prix Baudelaire,

in the UK and elsewhere, includes A Burnt Child (novel), Waiting for Fidel in the

Prix Mahogany and Prix Laure Bataillon. Nii serves on the editorial board

Springtime (short story collection) and Trafalgar, The Golden Years, a centenary

of World Literature Today and in 2014 was named as one of Africa’s 39 most

collection written by alumni of South Africa’s oldest high school for oppressed

promising authors of the new generation. He wrote The Makings of You

students (edited by Pandit and her brother). She has been translated into

(poetry), is curator of the African Writers’ Evening and director of the Ama

German and Chinese among others; and her work has been read on stage in

Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of

New York and broadcast on US National Public Radio.

Communications in Accra, the first of its kind in West Africa.

www.shereenpandit.bookslive.co.za/about/

www.niiparkes.com/ Twitter @BlueBirdTail

H Louisa Adjoa Parker

H Sandeep Parmar

Louisa is a writer of Ghanaian and English

Sandeep Parmar is Senior Lecturer in English

heritage based in the West Country, England.

Literature at the University of Liverpool. She

She writes poetry, fiction, black history and

holds a PhD from University College London

articles to explore her experiences of racism

and a Creative Writing MA from the University

and domestic violence. Her first poetry

of East Anglia. Her books include Reading Mina

collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, and recent

Loy’s Autobiographies: Myth of the Modern, an

pamphlet, Blinking in the Light, have been published by Cinnamon Press. Her

edition of the Collected Poems of Hope Mirrlees (Carcanet, 2011), and two poetry

work has appeared in Envoi, Wasafiri, Bare Fiction, And Other Poems, Under

collections published by Shearsman: The Marble Orchard and Eidolon. She edited

the Radar, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Ink, Sweat and Tears and Closure (Peepal

the Collected Poems of Nancy Cunard (Carcanet, 2016). Her essays and reviews

Tree Press). She has written for Gal-dem magazine and will be writing for The

have appeared in The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Financial

F-Word later this year. Louisa has been highly commended by the Forward

Times and the Times Literary Supplement. She is currently writing a novel about

Prize and shortlisted by the Bridport Prize. She is currently completing her first

wheat, partly set during India’s Green Revolution in the 1960s. She is a BBC

short story collection, a novel and second poetry collection.

New Generation Thinker.

Twitter @LouisaAdjoa

Twitter @SandeepKParmar 43


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Yovanka Paquete Perdigao

H Johny Pitts

Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is a Bissau-

Johny Pitts is an award-winning writer,

Guinean writer and editor based in London.

photographer, and broadcast journalist. Johny

Born in Lisbon and raised in Ivory Coast

founded the online journal Afropean.com, part of

and Senegal, her work is inspired by her

The Guardian’s Africa Network. As a presenter

experiences as a child refugee. Her poetry

he has appeared on MTV, BBC and ITV. He wrote

has been published in Brittle Paper, her

and presented Something Old, Something New,

translations in Jalada and her writing in The Guardian. Yovanka’s work was

a BBC Radio 4 documentary exploring black identity through music and his father,

shortlisted for Penguin’s WriteNow competition in 2016 and she is currently

a member of Northern Soul group The Fantastics. His photography has featured

working on a historical novel on a Luso-Ghanaian family whose roots trace

on The New York Times Lens Blog and will appear in the forthcoming Reporters

back to the colonial massacre of Batepá in São Tomé and Príncipe. When she

Without Borders (2017). He collaborated with author Caryl Phillips and Artangel

is not writing, she is translating, editing or managing communications for

on a photographic essay about London and immigration. Johny has written Le

London’s largest African literary festival, Africa Writes.

Manifeste de la Jeunesse (Les Arenes, 2017) and Afropean (Penguin Random

www.africaresearchinstitute.org/newsite/yovanka-paquete-perdigao/

House, 2018). He divides his time between London and Marseille.

Twitter @yova_nka

www.afropean.com/about/ Twitter @johnypitts

H Shyama Perera

H Aarathi Prasad

Shyama Perera is a novelist and essayist.

Aarathi Prasad was born in London to an

She also curates and edits publications and

Indian mother and a Trinidadian father, and

produces and voices audio output. Born in

was educated in the Caribbean and the

Moscow to Sri Lankan parents and domiciled

UK. After a PhD in genetics she worked in

in Paddington since the 1960s, the hopes and

research, science policy and communication,

aspirations of the early immigrants inspired her

presenting documentaries for the BBC,

first novel, Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet. Her book, Bitter Sweet Symphony, is an

Channel 4, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Her writing

upbeat tale of surviving divorce. Her third novel, Do the Right Thing, updated the

has appeared in publications including Prospect Magazine, The Guardian, The

Rama/Sita myth. She has written a history of contraception, Taking Precautions,

Telegraph, Vogue India and Wired UK. She is the author of Like A Virgin: How

and a short play, Shit Happens (2012). Aged 23, she was the youngest reporter

Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex and In the Bonesetter’s Waiting Room:

at The Guardian and went on to build a name in TV and radio current affairs. She

Travels through Indian Medicine. She works at University College London.

currently provides social commentary and communications consultancy, teaches

www.aarathiprasad.com/

creative writing and blogs.

Twitter @aarathiprasad

www.tricyclereaders.com/ Twitter @PortfolioWoman 44


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Shazea Quraishi

H Madhvi Ramani

Shazea Quraishi is a Pakistani-born Canadian

Madhvi Ramani was born and raised in

poet, playwright and translator based in the

London, where she gained an MA in creative

UK. Her poems have been published widely in

writing. She has published three children’s

the UK and USA in publications including The

books with Penguin Random House: Nina and

Financial Times, Poetry Review, Modern Poetry

the Travelling Spice Shed, Nina and the Kung Fu

in Translation and Ploughshares, and she is the

Adventure and Nina and the Magical Carnival.

author of two poetry collections: The Courtesans Reply (flipped eye publishing, 2012)

Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in The New York

and The Art of Scratching (Bloodaxe Books, 2015). In 2015, she was the recipient of

Times, The Washington Post, Stand Magazine, Asia Literary Review and others.

a Brooklease Grant from the Royal Society of Literature and an Artists International

She also writes plays and screenplays. Currently, she lives a thoroughly

Development Fund Award. Shazea facilitates creative writing/reading and translation

bohemian lifestyle in Berlin.

workshops in the UK and abroad in museums, prisons, refugee centres, festivals,

www.madhviramani.com/

schools and universities. She teaches with English PEN, Translators in Schools and

Twitter @madhviramani

The Poetry School and is an artist in residence with Living Words. www.shazea.wordpress.com/

H Bali Rai

H Ravinder Randhawa

Bali Rai is the multi-award-winning author

Ravinder Randhawa is the acclaimed author

of over 30 young adult, teen and children’s

of A Wicked Old Woman (regarded as the first

books. His edgy and boundary-pushing writing

intrinsically British-Asian novel), The Coral

style has made him extremely popular on the

Strand, Beauty and the Beast (YA, originally

school visit circuit across the world and his

titled Hari-jan) and Dynamite (short stories)

books are widely taught. Passionate about

and is working on her next novel. Her blogs on

promoting reading and literacy for young people, he is an ambassador for The

the arts, politics and justice often appear on The Huffington Post and her work

Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead project; was involved in the BBC’s Love To

has been broadcast on BBC radio. She founded The Asian Women Writers

Read campaign; and also speaks about issues around diversity, representation

Workshop (later called the Asian Women Writers Collective), which published

and in defence of multiculturalism. Bali Rai is also patron of an arts charity

two major collections: Right of Way (1989) and Flaming Spirit (1994). The

and a literature festival. His first novel, (un)arranged marriage, was published

Collective’s work has been archived by the South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive.

in 2001 and in 2016 Amnesty UK invited him to write a story for their Here I

Ravinder was the RLF Fellow at Toynbee Hall, St Mary’s University and Queen

Stand anthology.

Mary’s College, University of London. .

www.balirai.co.uk/home Twitter @balirai

www.ravinderrandhawa.com Twitter @RealRavs 45


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Vidyan Ravinthiran

H Maureen Roberts

Born in Leeds to Sri Lankan parents, Vidyan

Maureen Roberts is a published author and teacher

Ravinthiran is a Lecturer at Durham University.

with an MA in creative writing (Goldsmiths,

He was awarded a DPhil for his thesis on

University of London) and an MA in Education/

Elizabeth Bishop from Oxford in 2010 and

Language Arts (Western Carolina University).

was poetry editor of the Oxonian Review. He

She is widely anthologised, with poems on the

reviews frequently for publications including

Caribbean O level exam syllabus. She is currently

Poetry Review, The Times Literary Supplement, PN Review and others and is

Senior Development Officer at London Metropolitan Archives. She was Manager of

currently working on a novel, as well as a book about Elizabeth Bishop. His

Keats House Museum, initiating and curating the Keats Festival (2010-13). Maureen

pamphlet, At Home or Nowhere, was published in 2008 by Tall-Lighthouse.

has taught creative writing at University of Luton and Mary Ward Centre and was

His first book-length collection, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), was

an Administrator and Lecturer for the University of Wisconsin Multi-Cultural Britain

shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney

Programme. She has also been Curator of the Ithaca College Martin Luther King

Centre Poetry Prize and the 2015 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize.

Scholars London Programme. In 2012 She was the poet for Grenada at London

www.dur.ac.uk/english.studies/academicstaff/?id=12999

Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus, part of the Cultural Olympiad.

www.creativeislington.com/blog/directory/maureen_roberts/

H Akila Richards

H Roger Robinson

Akila Richards is a writer and spoken word

Roger Robinson was born in Trinidad and

artist. Some of her writing gives voice to the

has lived in the UK for over 20 years. Decibel

Black German experience. Her collaborations

named him as one of 50 writers influencing the

include film, digital, theatre and visual art. Her

Black British writing canon. His commissions

latest spoken word performance and visual

include The National Trust, The National

exhibition took place in 2016 as part of the

Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert

Fabrica cultural programme. Akila’s first short story ‘Eleven Years’ appeared in

Museum. Roger’s books include the fiction Adventures in 3D and poetry

a 2008 Penguin anthology of mixed race stories. Her poem ‘Red Saviour’ was

collections Suitcase, Suckle – Winner of the Peoples Book Prize – and The

in Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry (Peepal Tree Press, 2010). Her work

Butterfly Hotel, from which the poem ‘Trinidad Gothic’ was Highly Commended

with diverse women writers resulted in an anthology, Ink On My Lips (Waterloo

by the Forward Prize and shortlisted for the OCM Bocas Poetry Prize. He is a

Press, 2013). Most recently she contributed to Closure: Contemporary Black

co-founder of Spoke Lab and the writing collective Malika’s Kitchen. He released

British Short Stories (Peepal Tree Press, 2015) and received an award for her

a solo album, Illclectica, and is lead vocalist for King Midas Sound, whose debut

poem, ‘Stifled Life’.

album, Waiting for You (Hyperdub Records), was critically acclaimed.

www.akilarichards.com/ Twitter @akilalive

www.rogerrobinsononline.com/ Twitter @rrobinson72

46


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Deanna Rodger

H Jacob Ross

Deanna is an international writer, performer and

Jacob Ross is a poet, playwright, journalist,

facilitator. She co-curates two leading spoken word

short story writer and novelist. He edited

events – Chill Pill and Come Rhyme With Me – and

Artrage, Britain’s leading intercultural arts

is on the board of Safe Ground. Commissions include:

magazine and now is Associate Editor for

Under The Skin (St Paul’s Cathedral), Women Who

Fiction (Peepal Tree Press). He has published

Spit (BBC IPlayer) and Buckingham Palace (NYT).

the short story collections Song for Simone and

Accolades include: Elle UK’s ‘30 inspirational women under 30’, Cosmopolitan’s ‘No.1

A Way to Catch the Dust; co-edited anthologies including Voice, Memory, Ashes

trailblazing woman’ and youngest UK Poetry Slam Champion (2007/8). Previous international

and Ridin’ n Rising; co-authored Behind the Masquerade: The Story of Notting

appearances include: Mexico, Canada (British Council/Shakespeare lives), Beirut

Hill Carnival; and edited Closure: Contemporary Black British short stories. Ross’s

(Roundhouse), South Africa (Connect ZA and Roundhouse), and Sudan (British Council). She

novel, Pynter Bender, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Regional

teaches the Writing Poetry for Performance module with Benjamin Zephaniah at Brunel

Prize, The Society of Authors Best First Novel and Caribbean Review of Books

University and is a tutor at School of Communication Arts. She is currently in development

Book of the Year. His current novel, The Bone Readers, was published in 2016.

with EARTH: The Show (written with Gemma Rogers).

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

www.deannarodger.co.uk/ Twitter @deannarodger

www.peepaltresspress.com/authors/jacob-ross

H Amali Rodrigo

H Leone Ross

Amali Rodrigo is Sri Lankan born and lives in

Leone Ross writes magic realism, horror

London. She has won numerous awards for her

fiction, erotica and psychological drama. She

work and is currently an Associate Lecturer and

has published two critically praised novels, All

PhD candidate at Lancaster University. John

The Blood Is Red (ARP/Actes Sud) and Orange

Glenday remarks on her poetry collection, Lotus

Laughter (Anchor/Farrar Straus & Giroux/

Gatherers published by Bloodaxe: ‘This is a

Picador), which was shortlisted for the UK

world of paradoxes – exotic and familiar, a deeply spiritual world which delights

Orange Prize. Ross’s short fiction has been shortlisted for the V S Pritchett Prize

in passion; that celebrates love, but does not hesitate to focus on unsettling

and Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize. She has judged the Manchester Fiction Prize

histories of gender violence. [...] these are poems we can feel; poems we can

and the Wimbledon Bookfest Short Story Competition. She is a Senior Lecturer

hear resonating on the page, aromatic poems, laced with breathtaking imagery;

in creative writing at Roehampton University, and a Senior Fellow of the UK

poems we can hold up to our lips and taste’. The collection includes a sequence of

Higher Education Academy. Leone Ross’s short story collection, Come Let Us

translations of the medieval graffiti song-poems from Sigiriya, Sri Lanka.

Sing Anyway, will be published in June 2017 by Peepal Tree Press. She lives in

www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/category/amali-rodrigo

London and is working on a third novel.

Twitter @arodrigo

www.leoneross.com Twitter @leoneross 47


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Minoli Salgado

H Norman Samuda Smith

Minoli Salgado won the first SI Leeds Literary

Norman Samuda Smith was born in Birmingham,

Prize and was longlisted for the DSC Prize in

England (1958) of Jamaican parents who came

South Asian Literature for her novel, A Little

to Britain in the early 1950s. He was the first

Dust on the Eyes. Described as ‘an impressive

British-born black novelist published in the UK

exploration of traumatic loss’ (Romesh

with his novel Bad Friday (Trinity Arts, 1982;

Gunesekera), the novel is taught alongside

republished New Beacon Books, 1985), which

her critically acclaimed study, Writing Sri Lanka. Her work considers human

was shortlisted for the 1982 Young Observer Fiction Prize. His short stories have

rights issues and has been translated into Spanish, Slovenian and Russian. In

featured in award-winning anthologies Whispers in the Walls (Tindal Street Press,

2012 she was selected as the poet for Sri Lanka at London’s Poetry Parnassus,

2001) and The Heart of Our Community; (Timeless Avatar Press, 2006); his poems

part of the Cultural Olympiad. She has read in Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Portugal,

are included in the collection, Songs of Hope (Timeless Avatar Press, 2006). In 2013

Canada, the USA and Denmark. She has spoken on censorship at PEN events

he self-published three of his books: Britannia’s Children, Freedom Street and, to

and served as a literary judge for Amnesty International. She teaches English

celebrate its 30th anniversary, Bad Friday. He currently writes and publishes the

literature at the University of Sussex.

online cultural review Panther Newsletter.

www.minolisalgado.com/

www.samudasmithpublications.wordpress.com/

H Jacob Sam-La Rose

H Sathnam Sanghera

Jacob Sam-La Rose’s collection Breaking Silence

Sathnam Sanghera is a journalist with The

(Bloodaxe) was shortlisted for a Forward Poetry

Times and has been shortlisted for the Costa

Prize and the Aldeburgh Fenton Award. He runs the

Book Awards twice: for his memoir, The Boy

Barbican Young Poets programme and Spoken Word

With The Topknot, and his novel, Marriage

Educators (Goldsmiths University) and is recognised

Material. He was awarded an honorary degree

as an indefatigable facilitator and supporter of young

of Doctor of Letters for services to journalism

and emerging writers. His poetry explores and experiments with Black British/African

by The University of Wolverhampton in September 2009 and a President’s

Caribbean culture, ritual and tradition, hybridity, coding and other aspects of popular

Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2010. In 2016 he was elected a

culture. His work has featured in Ploughshares, Wasafiri, In Their Own Words (Salt,

Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, while writer Jonathan Coe named

2012), Poetry by Heart (Penguin, 2014) and more. He has produced commissioned work

him one of ‘The Men of Next 25 years’ in GQ magazine in 2013, saying that

for institutions including the National Gallery, the BBC and Nitro (Black Music Theatre Co-

‘whether he’s writing autobiography or fiction, Sathnam is busy carving out his

Operative). His practice includes cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploring the possibilities

own literary niche – in the multicultural British Midlands – which he explores

for poetic text with technology, physical theatre and conceptual art. He lives in London.

with incredible grace, generosity and humour’.

www.jsamlarose.com/ Twitter @jsamlarose

www.sathnam.com/ Twitter @Sathnam

48


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Taiye Selasi

H Kamila Shamsie

Taiye Selasi is an author and photographer. Born

Kamila Shamsie is the author of six novels,

in London and raised in Boston, she holds a BA

which have been translated into more than

in American Studies from Yale and an MPhil in

25 languages. Three of her novels have won

International Relations from Oxford. In 2005 she

awards from Pakistan’s Academy of Letters.

published the seminal essay ‘Bye-Bye, Babar (Or:

Burnt Shadows was shortlisted for the Orange

What is an Afropolitan?)’, sparking a movement

Prize for Fiction and won the Anisfield-Wolf

among transnational Africans. In 2013 Selasi’s debut novel, The New York Times

award. She was one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013. She

bestseller Ghana Must Go, was selected as one of the Ten Best Books of 2013 by

grew up in Karachi, went to university in the USA and now lives in London.

The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. The same year Selasi was named in

www.bloomsbury.com/author/kamila-shamsie

Granta’s once-in-a-decade list of Best Young British Novelists. Her 2015 TED talk,

Twitter @kamilashamsie

‘Don’t Ask Where I’m From; Ask Where I’m a Local’, has reached over two million viewers, redefining the way a global society conceives of personal identity. www.taiyeselasi.com/ Twitter @taiyeselasi

H Seni Seneviratne

H Priya Sharma

Seni is a writer, poet, performer and

Priya Sharma’s horror and speculative fiction

multidisciplinary creative artist of English and Sri

has appeared in venues like Albedo One,

Lankan heritage. She has performed in the UK,

Interzone, Black Static and on Tor.com. Her work

USA, Canada, South Africa, Egypt and Kuwait.

has been published in Ellen Datlow’s Best

She has collaborated with filmmakers, visual and

Horror of the Year series (Night Shade Books),

digital artists and musicians; Lady of Situations

Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror

combined poetry, theatre, digital art and music and was performed at Off the Shelf

series (Prime Books), Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

Literature Festival in 2016. Her poetry collections are published by Peepal Tree

2014 (Solaris), Steve Haynes’s Best British Fantasy 2014 (Salt) and Johnny

Press: Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin (2007), includes a poem which was Highly

Main’s Best British Horror 2015 (Salt). She has also been on several of Locus

Commended in the Forward Poetry Prize; The Heart of It (2012), includes her poem

magazine’s Recommended Reading Lists. Her short story ‘Fabulous Beasts’

‘Operation Cast Lead’ which was shortlisted in the 2010 Arvon International Poetry

originally appeared on Tor.com in 2015 and won the 2016 British Fantasy

Competition. She is currently working on a manuscript, Unknown Soldiers, based

Award for Short Fiction. A collection of her work will be available in 2018. She

on her father’s experiences in the Second World War.

is a doctor who lives in northwest England.

www.seniseneviratne.com Twitter @SeniSeneviratne

www.pritasharmafiction.wordpress.com 49


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Hanan al-Shaykh

H Nikesh Shukla

Hanan al-Shaykh is one of the most acclaimed

Nikesh Shukla is the editor of Rife Magazine,

writers in the contemporary Arab world. She

an online magazine for young people, and

is the author of seven novels, including The

the author of the novels Coconut Unlimited

Story of Zahra, Women of Sand & Myrrh, Beirut

(Quartet), which was shortlisted for the Costa

Blues, Only in London, as well as a collection

First Novel Award, and Meatspace (Friday

of stories, I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops, and

Project). He is the editor of the acclaimed

her much praised memoir of her mother’s life: The Locust and the Bird. She has

collection of essays about race and immigration by 21 writers of colour, The

written two plays, Dark Afternoon Tea and Paper Husband. Most recently she

Good Immigrant (Unbound), which was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights

published One Thousand and One Nights, an adaptation and re-imagining of

Arts Award and won the Reader’s Choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards.

some of the stories from the legendary Alf Layla Wa Layla – The Arabian Nights

His short stories have featured in, among others, Best British Short Stories

– commissioned by the director Tim Supple for the theatre and performed

2013, Five Dials, The Moth Magazine, The Sunday Times, BBC Radio 4 and Teller

in Toronto and Edinburgh in 2011. Her work has been translated into 28

Magazine. He has, in the past, been writer in residence for BBC Asian Network

languages. She lives in London.

and the Royal Festival Hall.

www.rcwlitagency.com/authors/al-shaykh-hanan-2/

www.nikesh-shukla.com/ Twitter @nikeshshukla

H Warsan Shire

H John Siddique

Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet,

John Siddique is a British poet who draws

writer, editor and educator named London’s

on his Irish and Indian heritage to straddle

first Young People's Laureate in 2014. Her

the complications of modern society. He is

debut book, Teaching My Mother How to Give

the author of The Prize (Rialto) and Poems

Birth, was published in 2012 (flipped eye).

from a Northern Soul, co-author of Four Fathers

Her poems have been published in Wasafiri,

(ROUTE) and editor of Transparency (Crocus

Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology The Salt Book of Younger Poets

Books). His work has also appeared in various anthologies including The Fire

(2011) and Bloodaxe’s Ten: The New Wave (2014). In 2012 she represented

People (Canongate) and VELOCITY (Black Spring), as well as in magazines.

Somalia at Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank

Among others, he has held residencies and commissions at Commonword,

Centre, London, part of the Cultural Olympiad. Her poetry has been translated

BBC Manchester and Ilkley Literature Festival; Wetherby Prison won two

into Italian, Danish, Estonian, Spanish and Portuguese. Warsan was the winner

Koestler Awards for his work during his three years as a writer there, leading

of the 2013 inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Most recently her

to a commendation by the Prime Minister for John’s radical and innovative

poetry featured on Beyonce’s album Lemonade. She now lives in the USA.

work with young people. He continues to mentor in schools and elsewhere.

www.warsanshire.bandcamp.com/ Twitter @warsan_shire

www.johnsiddique.co.uk/ Twitter @johnsiddique

50


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Jenneba Sie-Jalloh

H Dorothea Smartt

Jenneba Sie-Jalloh left formal teaching

Dorothea Smartt, born and raised in London,

to work in the arts. She has worked as

is of Barbadian heritage. Dubbed ‘Brit born

project manager, programmer and workshop

Bajan international’ by Kamau Brathwaithe,

facilitator and as a consultant for the British

her poetry appears in several journals and

Council. Jenneba has had poetry, essays and

groundbreaking anthologies, including IC3:

fiction published in a number of anthologies.

The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in

In 2008 she completed an MA in writing and finished her first novel. She has

Britain. Her first collection, Connecting Medium, features a Forward Prize

a deep interest in oral history and edited All Saints and Sinners, a collection

award-winning poem. Her video/poetry installation was part of LandFall, a

of interviews capturing the experiences of a group of teenage boys (including

2009 exhibition exploring the Atlantic Ocean as natural phenomenon and

her father) who stowed away from Sierra Leone in the 1940s and settled in

transporter of dreams and peoples at the Museum of London Docklands.

Notting Hill, London.

Dorothea regularly facilitates poetry workshops and has read and performed

Twitter @jennebasie

in Wales, Hungary, Denmark, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Jamaica, Bahrain, Egypt and the USA. www.dorotheasmartt.wordpress.com/ Twitter @britbornbajan1

H Lemn Sissay

H Rommi Smith

Lemn Sissay is a poet who is presently

Rommi Smith is a poet and playwright. BBC Poet

published by Canongate Books. His

in Residence for the Commonwealth Games,

installation poem what if was exhibited at The

Manchester and for BBC Music Live, Rommi has

Royal Academy. His landmarks poems can

written and performed across BBC radio. She

be seen everywhere from The Royal Festival

was Parliamentary Writer in Residence, the first

Hall to The British Council in Addis Ababa. He

in British parliamentary history. Rommi’s play,

was Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre London from 2006 to 2012.

Mountain Knows Me, received a Southbank Show Award nomination. She teaches

His latest book, Gold From The Stone (Selected Poems), came out in 2016. He

creative writing and has mentored students at The Royal Central School of Speech

is a presenter on BBC Radio. His play Something Dark has been performed

and Drama. In the multi-award winning film-documentary, We Are Poets, Rommi

around the world and is published in 2017 by Oberon Books. His extraordinary

was poet coach for young poets competing in the US Brave New Voices poetry slam

life story was made into a BBC Television documentary entitled Internal Flight.

championships. Rommi was a consultant/advisor to Yemeni civil rights campaigner

He is Chancellor of the University of Manchester and received an MBE for

and Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman for her Parliamentary speech. She is

services to literature.

currently working on a PhD celebrating the politics of jazz and blues..

www.lemnsissay.com/ Twitter @lemnsissay

www.rommi-smith.co.uk/ Twitter @rommismith 51


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Mahsuda Snaith

H Saradha Soobrayen

Mahsuda Snaith is a writer of short stories,

Saradha Soobrayen was born in London and

novels and plays. She is the winner of the SI

studied Live Art, Visual Art and Creative Writing.

Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short

She is Poet in Residence for CHAGOS: Cultural

Story Prize 2014 as well as being a finalist

Heritage Across Generations and is writing

in the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013. Her

a poetic inquiry, Sounds Like Root Shock, a

short stories have been anthologised by The

melange of activism, cultural transmission,

Asian Writer, Words with Jam and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories.

Kreol dialect, political rhetoric and song lyrics that chronicle the forced removal of

As well as working as a supply teacher, Mahsuda has led creative writing

Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago and their fight for the ‘right of return’.

workshops and performed her work at literary festivals. Her debut novel, The

Saradha received an Eric Gregory Award in 2004 and was named in The Guardian

Things We Thought We Knew, is due be published by Transworld in June 2017.

as one of ‘12 to watch’, up-and-coming young poets. She represented Mauritius

She has been chosen as an Observer New Face of Fiction 2017.

at the Southbank Centre’s Parnassus Poetry Festival and won the 2015-16 Pacuare

www.mahsudasnaith.com/

Reserve’s Poet Laureate residency. Saradha’s critical texts, experimental short

Twitter @mahsudasnaith

fiction and poetry are widely published in journals and anthologies. www.saradhasoobrayen.com Twitter @thewritingsofa

H Yomi Sode

H Ahdaf Soueif

Once long-listed as one of MTV’s Brand New

Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the bestselling

Artists, writer/poet Yomi Sode balances the

The Map of Love (shortlisted for the Booker

fine line between both Nigerian and British

Prize in 1999 and translated into more than

cultures, which can be, at times, humorous,

30 languages), In the Eye of the Sun (1992),

loving, self-reflective and uncomfortable.

I Think of You and Cairo: a City Transformed,

Over the past nine years, he’s had work

her account of the 2011 Egyptian revolution

commissioned by The Mayor’s Office, BBC World Service/Africa, Channel 4,

(2014). She is also a political and cultural commentator. Her collection of

charities and for the UN Humanitarian Summit. He won a place on Nimble

essays, Mezzaterra (2004), has been influential and her articles for The

Fish’s RE: Play programme to develop his show COAT, the scratch of which has

Guardian are published in the European and American press. Her translation

since been programmed by the Southbank Centre and Camden Roundhouse to

from Arabic into English of I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti is widely

sold-out audiences. Last year Yomi was chosen to be a part of The Complete

acclaimed. In 2007 she founded the Palestine Festival of Literature which

Works and travelled to the USA as part of British Council’s Shakespeare Lives

takes place in the cities of occupied Palestine and Gaza.

initiative, where he read at New York Public Library.

www.ahdafsoueif.com

www.iamgreeds.com/ Twitter @YomiSode

Twitter @asoueif

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Chimene Suleyman

H Meera Syal

Chimene Suleyman, of Turkish-Cypriot descent,

Meera Syal is an actress and writer. Her first

is a writer from London now based in New York.

novel, Anita And Me, won the Betty Trask

She has written on race politics for publications

Award and is on the UK school curriculum.

including The Independent, IB Times, The

She has written two other critically acclaimed

Quietus, The Debrief, The Pool and a regular spot

novels, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee and The

for Media Diversified. She has appeared on

House Of Hidden Mothers, both of which she

Newsnight and BBC radio. She is a contributor to the award-winning book, The

adapted for television. She wrote the screenplays for the films Bhaji On The

Good Immigrant (Unbound, 2016), a collection of essays on race and identity. Her

Beach, Anita And Me and My Sister Wife. She was writer/performer in the

poetry collection, Outside Looking On (Influx, 2014) is an exploration of London

multi-award-winning comedy series Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars At

streets, heartbreak and wine, and was included in a Guardian Best Books list. She

Number 42. Meera has won numerous awards including two British Comedy

started as a spoken-word artist, representing the UK at the International Biennale

Awards, two international EMMYS and two AFA awards for her screenplay

in Rome 2011, and has performed internationally. Chimene has taught poetry and

and performance in My Sister Wife. In 2015, she received a CBE for Services to

creative writing at schools and universities.

Drama and Literature.

www.chimenesuleyman.com/ Twitter @chimenesuleyman

www.rcwlitagency.com/authors/syal-meera/ Twitter @MeeraSyal

H Radhika Dogra Swarup

H Levi Tafari

Radhika Dogra Swarup spent a nomadic

Levi Tafari was born in Liverpool. He is the

childhood growing up in India, Italy, Qatar,

author of a number of poetry collections

Pakistan, Romania and England, which

including Duboetry (1987), Liverpool Experience

gave her a keen sense of place and for the

(1989), Rhyme Don’t Pay (1998) and From

dispossessed. She studied at Cambridge

the Page to the Stage (2006). His plays have

University and worked in finance before

been performed at the Unity Theatre and the

turning to writing. Her debut novel, Where the River Parts, was published by

Playhouse in Liverpool, as well as at the Blackheath Theatre in Stafford. He

Sandstone Press in 2016. It was selected for the Sainsbury’s Summer Book

has run creative writing workshops in schools, colleges, universities, youth

Club and was chosen by Amazon India as one of its Memorable Books of

centres, prisons and libraries nationally and internationally. Levi Tafari is a

2016. She also blogs for Huffington Post India. Radhika lives in London with her

crucial, rhythmic, poetic consciousness-raiser and urban griot who has made

husband and two young children.

many television and radio appearances. Henry Normal says of Levi, ‘His style is

www.sandstonepress.com/books/where-the-river-parts

rhythmic and lyrical and has the ability to make you smile and to make you think’.

Twitter @rdswarup

www.windowsproject.net/writers/tafari.htm Twitter @levitafari 53


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Shagufta S Tania

H Stephen Thompson

Bangladeshi-born Shagufta S Tania was an

Stephen Thompson was born in London. His latest

architect and designer before she became a

novel is No More Heroes, about the 7/7 bombings.

writer. Her fiction and non-fiction have been

His first novel, Toy Soldiers (2000), a semi-

published in the Bengali-speaking areas of both

autobiographical account of his adolescence, was

Bangladesh and India. She is the author of two

described by Hanif Kureishi as ‘painfully honest

novels and two short story collections and her

and deeply affecting’. His second novel, Missing

work has appeared in Wasafiri and the Asia Literary Review. Another notable

Joe (2001), concerns the generation of West Indians who arrived in Britain in the

passion project is her English-Bengali translation of Susan Fletcher’s Whitbread

post-war years. Meet Me Under The Westway (2007) is a satirical account of

award-winning novel Eve Green. Her impressionistic writing style inhabits a

life in London’s theatreland, drawn extensively from his experiences as a member of

dream-like space between prose and poetry, and displays her love of language

The Royal Court Young People’s Theatre. He currently teaches creative writing at the

and imagery — and their power to transport readers. Currently, Shagufta is

University of Winchester. He is editor and publisher of the online literary journal,

writing a historical novel set during the failed Bengal Partition of 1905 and also

The Colverstone Review.

a series of adult fairytales based on old tales of Bengal.

www.jacarandabooksartmusic.co.uk/writer/stephen-thompson/

www.immigrantsofspitalfields.org.uk/speakers/

Twitter @ss_thompson

H Testament

H Robyn Travis

Testament is a hip-hop MC, poet, theatre maker

Robyn Travis is currently working on his

and world record breaking human beatboxer.

next novel as well as a screenplay. His

A critically acclaimed lyricist, his work ties

first book Prisoner to the Streets – a real life

together strands of rap, song and spoken word.

account of his journey from London ‘gangs’

Testament’s work includes: the celebrated album

to author – has received widespread praise.

Homecut: No Freedom Without; spoken word

He is a passionate speaker and advocate for

performances for BBC radio (1xtra, Radio 4 and 6Music); and his acclaimed play

young people and uses his own life experiences to teach and inspire younger

Blake Remixed, a personal response to the work of William Blake. His work has

generations to believe in a brighter future for themselves. He regularly gives

been performed at The Roundhouse, The Globe, West Yorkshire Playhouse and The

talks at youth centres and schools and is a firm believer in the power of

National Theatre Studio. Testament’s writing has published been in anthologies

literature as a means to positively change people’s lives.

and used a teaching resource internationally. He is also a workshop facilitator,

www.ownit.london/tag/robyn-travis/

leading workshops in venues ranging from schools and stadiums to prisons and park

Twitter @OfficialRTravis

benches. Testament is a currently a supported artist at Manchester’s Royal Exchange. www.hiphopclinic.co.uk/about/ Twitter @homecut 54


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Yemisi Turner-Blake

H Stephanie Victoire

Yemisi Turner-Blake is a British writer and

Stephanie Victoire was born in London to a Mauritian

photographer based in London. His work

family. She has a BA in creative writing from London

is concerned with narratives of place and

Metropolitan University. In 2014 she completed her

urban life, often featuring collaborations with

collection of fairy and folk tales, The Other World,

individuals and communities in cities. Using

It Whispers (Salt, 2016), whilst on The Almasi

literature, photography and performance, his

League Writers’ Programme. With strands of

work includes productions, publications, installations and exhibitions in the

classic fairy and folklore weaved through, the unknown – the silent and dark – is

UK and internationally. He has been commissioned by organisations including

explored. These stories tell of what happens when passion, desire, loneliness and

Art on the Underground, the British Council, Southbank Centre, Tate and

imprisonment leads to a search for freedom and empowerment. Stephanie has

Delfina Foundation. His work has appeared in various publications including

also published stories in the anthologies, Flamingo Land and Other Stories and

Wasafiri, Poetry Review and a collection from flipped eye books.

An Unreliable Guide to London and has written for the Oh Comely Magazine blog.

www.yemisiblake.co.uk/

Stephanie is now working on her novel, The Heart Note.

Twitter @yemisi_tb

www.saltpublishing.com/collections/author-stephanie-victoire Twitter @StephySunkisser

H Paula Varjack

H Kit de Waal

Paula Varjack is a writer, filmmaker and

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an

theatre maker. Her work explores identity,

Irish mother and Caribbean father and worked

the unsaid and making the invisible visible.

for 15 years in criminal and family law. She

Her debut prose & poetry publication, Letters

was awarded the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize

I Never Sent to You, published by Burning Eye

in both 2014 and 2015, the SI Leeds Literary

Books, explores how love and heartbreak

Reader’s Choice Prize 2014 and second place

can be felt just as strongly for a place as for a person. Her most recent show,

in both the Costa Short Story Award 2014 and the Bath Short Story Award

Show Me The Money, explores the reality of making a living as an artist and is

2014. Her short stories, ‘The Beautiful Thing’ and ‘Adrift at the Athena’, have

based on interviews with artists across the UK. In addition to performing, she

also been produced for BBC Radio 4. My Name is Leon is her first novel and

facilitates workshops with a wide range of age groups, using writing prompts

was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

and drama games to unblock creativity.

www.kitdewaal.com/

www.paulavarjack.com

Twitter @KitdeWaal

Twitter @paulavarjack

55


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Jocelyn Watson

H Ruel White

The Asian Women’s Writers Collective was

Ruel White was born in Montserrat, coming

Jocelyn Watson’s first writing home. In

to England when he was four. During the

2016 her story ‘Suha’ about a female Syrian

1970s-80s he was active in Rock Against

refugee was published in Gender and Race

Racism, contributing both musically and

Matter: Global Perspectives on Being a Woman.

organisationally. After a life-changing meeting

Among her awards are: two Jane Austen

with John La Rose, Sarah White and Michael

Short Story Awards (2011, 2015), the UK Asian Writer Short Story Competition

La Rose of New Beacon Books, he began writing. He has had several short

(2013); and the 2012 Freedom From Torture Short Story Competition. Her play,

stories and a novel, Heroes Through the Day, published by New Beacon and

Cornelia Calling, was part of the Kali Talkback 2013 at Tristan Bates Theatre.

also wrote stories for broadcast by the BBC. Ruel gained a degree in Literature

Her story, ‘X’, was published in an anthology of new writing by British Asian

and Third World Studies and has taught at various schools in London. He has

women, Beyond the Border (Dahlia, 2014). In 2015 her autobiographical piece,

recently been writing full time on the Chapter and Verse programme run by

‘Words’, was included in Tangled Roots and her short story, ‘Nana’s Navartan

The Literary Consultancy, working on his latest novel Astronauts, which will be

Set’, was published by Momaya Press in their Treasure anthology.

completed by autumn 2017.

www.theasianwriter.co.uk/2014/01/the-gardener-jocelyn-watson/

www.erea.revues.org/3524?lang=en

H Gemma Weekes

H Indigo Williams

Touted in The Independent as ‘a name to watch’,

Indigo Williams is a dynamic poet from

Gemma Weekes is author of Love Me (Chatto

south London. She is passionate about the

& Windus), described in The Telegraph as a

ways art can transform the way we perceive

‘fresh take on modern love [that] hits you where

the world and its ability to facilitate critical

you feel it most’. She is also a screenwriter,

consciousness. She uses her work to explore

published poet, an established performance/

these concepts on stage and on the page.

spoken word artist and a musicmaker who has scored work at The Place Theatre,

Her work has been featured on both national television and radio shows. She

Sadlers Wells and for film. As a singer/songwriter, she has appeared with Cody

has performed at events and venues such as Glastonbury, iTunes Festival,

Chesnutt (opening for Black-Eyed Peas) and collaborated with Nitin Sawhney.

BBC Radio 4’s Bespoken word, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal

She’s devised pieces and performed nationally and internationally including the

Festival Hall and many more. She is co-founder of I Shape Beauty, an art

Royal Festival Hall, MC Theatre (Netherlands), New Jersey Performing Arts Centre

collective that creates art around the narratives of women of colour and

(USA) and Bestival. She is currently working on a live art piece with accompanying

facilitates workshops and healing spaces for women of colour.

chapbook/EP and her second novel.

www.indigowilliamspoetry.com/poetry/

www.gemmaweekes.blogspot.co.uk/ Twitter @gemmaweekes

Twitter @Indigowilliams

56


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

H Jennifer Wong

H Caasha Lul Mohamud Yusuf

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Jennifer Wong

Caasha Lul Mohamud Yusuf is a poet from

is the author of Goldfish (Chameleon Press), a

Somalia/Somaliland who writes in Somali.

narrative of childhood memories, myths and

She grew up in a culture steeped in poetry

taboos in Hong Kong. She studied English in

and started to compose poems from an early

Oxford and has an MA in creative writing from

age. Her work began getting published on

the University of East Anglia. She is working

Somali websites in 2008 and has garnered

on a PhD on place and identity in contemporary Chinese diaspora poetry at Oxford

praise for her ability to infuse poetry with fresh imagery enlivened by telling

Brookes, where she also teaches creative writing. She has performed nationally and

details. Caasha has lived in exile in the UK for 20 years, but is fast emerging

internationally; her poems have been published in The Rialto, Morning Star, Oxford

as one of the most outstanding Somali poets, as well as a powerful woman

Poetry, And Other Poems, Cha and The World Record anthology (Bloodaxe Books)

poet in a literary tradition still largely dominated by men. The Sea Migrations

among others. In 2014, she received the Young Artist Award (Literary Arts) from the

(Somali title: Tahriib), her first full-length book of poems, is published by

Hong Kong Arts Development Council. She is a tutor at The Poetry School.

Bloodaxe Books with The Poetry Translation Centre in November 2017.

www.jennigerwong.co.uk

www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/category/caasha-lul-mohamud-yusuf

Twitter @jennywcreative

H Kerry Young

H Rafeef Ziadah

Kerry Young was born in Kingston, Jamaica to

Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian-Canadian

a Chinese father and mother of mixed Chinese-

spoken word artist and human rights activist

African heritage. She has written three novels:

based in London. She released her first

Pao (Bloomsbury, 2011) shortlisted for the

spoken word album, Hadeel, in 2009. In 2012

Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth

she was chosen to represent Palestine at

Book Prize and the East Midlands Book Award;

Poetry Parnassus at London’s Southbank

Gloria (Bloomsbury, 2013) longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean

Centre. Her performances of poems like ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ and ‘Shades of

Literature, shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and nominated for

Anger’ went viral online within days of their release and have been viewed

the 2015 International Impac Dublin Literary Award; and Show Me A Mountain

over a million times and translated into multiple languages. Rafeef’s poems

(Bloomsbury, 2016). Kerry is a Reader and Mentor for The Literary Consultancy

continue to be a rally cry for action against injustice and a potent rendition

and an Arvon Foundation tutor. She is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund,

of the everyday lives of ordinary people in the Middle East, often seen only

Honorary Assistant Professor in the School of English at The University of

through the lens of news statistics.

Nottingham and Honorary Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Leicester.

www.rafeefziadah.net/

www.kerryyoung.co.uk/ Twitter @KerryYoungWrite

Twitter @RafeefZiadah 57


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

ABOUT SPEAKING VOLUMES Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions is a not-for-profit, producer-led independent organisation, which promotes the very best of the UK’s rich diversity of literature and international writing. Formed in 2010 by Sharmilla Beezmohun and Sarah Sanders, the agency has, along with Nick Chapman, produced numerous literary festivals, tours, events series and showcases in the UK and internationally. This includes: two tours of Black British writers to the East and West Coasts of the USA; a London and UK-wide series of Stand Up And Spit events celebrating political poetry; four editions of European Literature Night at the British Library; programmes for the European Commission; and the 2012 UK tour of Poetry Parnassus, the Southbank Centre’s festival for the Cultural Olympiad. In 2017-18, Speaking Volumes will be taking British writers to four European countries as part of Breaking Ground Europe as well as producing events in London, Birmingham and at Bradford Lit Fest for the series. Other projects include Writers of the World Unite!, a new festival celebrating revolutionary writing in partnership with Waterstones and Little Atoms, and the UK launch series of The Golden Shovel Anthology celebrating the centenary of the birth of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American Poet Laureate who became a civil rights icon.

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BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

FOR MORE INFORMATION on Breaking Ground writers, event and tour bookings or Speaking Volumes and our work, please contact us directly at: SHARMILLA BEEZMOHUN: sharmilla.beezmohun@speaking-volumes.org.uk SARAH SANDERS: sarah.sanders@speaking-volumes.org.uk NICK CHAPMAN: nicholas.chapman@speaking-volumes.org.uk

FOLLOW the Breaking Ground story via Speaking Volumes digital platforms: @speak_volumes SpeakingVolumesLiveLiteratureProductions @speaking.volumes

www.speaking-volumes.org.uk 59


BREAKING GROUND

CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

CONCEPT + DESIGN: JON-DANIEL.COM

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Breaking Ground: Celebrating British Writers of Colour  

A new resource featuring 200 of the best contemporary British writers of colour

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