News & Events

Manchester Launch of the New Bloodaxe The Complete Works Anthology

Manchester Launch of the New Bloodaxe TCW Anthology

Time: November 17th, 6.30-8.15pm

Place: Anthony Burgess International Foundation
International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Engine House
Chorlton Mill
3 Cambridge Street
M1 5BY


Another chance to see the Complete Works Poets reading from the new anthology Ten: the Next Generation (Bloodaxe) after the success of the Southbank event, as reported in the Guardian.


Tuesday 18th April by Inua Ellams

My book, #Afterhours is subtitled anthology / diary / memoir / poems. The ‘diary’ element details the process of looking for, deconstructing and writing poems in response to those I found. The final entry reads: “If the project were to continue, the poem I’d write for 2003, when I turned 19, would involve a little pornography, for that is how I found a poetry community in London. One June night, watching an adult television programme, HBO’s Real Sex on Channel 5, I saw a woman reading a poem on a stage as another, completely nude, danced erotically to its rhythm. I lunged for the computer, Google-searched ‘Poetry London’ and the first event I found was called ‘Aroma Poetry’. I went along and there, met its host and organiser, Nii Ayikwei Parkes.

I have no doubt whatsoever that whatever it was I read was horrendous, but that act of acknowledgement (and perhaps kindness) from Nii changed my whole life. He’d go on to suggest poets to read, events to visit and he welcomed me into his poetry family, many of whom remain friends and unofficial mentors. They embraced the wondering, questioning, lost young man I was and showed him another way of being.”

Nii introduced me to Malika’s Kitchen which I became a member of. He published my first pamphlet and ‘Breadfruit’ by Malika herself, a book I designed. Before I actually met Malika and knew who she was, I had made a drawing of her based on a photo I found online. Her brother found and sent it to her; we were making connections before we connected. I think artistic longevity thrives on connections, communities and families built of those whose work we admire and latch onto regardless of their knowing.

I think of poetry families in two groups: primary and secondary. The primary are those I write, study or engage with, in other words, my contemporaries. I can rely on them for harsh criticism and honest opinions, to turn up to readings and events… friends I regularly share stages with, who are roughly of my generation, live in my city and operate in my circle. The secondary group are those whose work inhabits spaces my work does. They exist beyond space, time. Most I have never met – many have died – and should we meet to speak, I would not understand them… they are not all fluent in English. Sometimes, they are not poets at all, but visual artists, researchers, archivists, musicians, explorers. I read and rely on them to show the wider contexts in which my work sits. They lend weight and legitimacy to creative impulses, they say ‘we have been here before’ and when I am lost, help set me right. One way of finding that extended\secondary family, is to begin with the primary family and look for similar works. The internet helps. Early Saul Williams led me to read about Zen, which led to ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’ which on Amazon is usually bought with ‘Siddhartha’. That messiah complex which compelled the Matrix movies, also starring Keanu Reeves, led me to ‘Waking Life’ on the nature of reality, which is usually bought with ‘Slackers’, both by Richard Linklater.

What we find, when we create such links and families, are other ways of being, other ways our predecessors might have considered and dealt with our creative concerns. In that, we gain a multiplicity of vantage points, of angles and inroads into often hackneyed, yet addictive topics… and that can only create better, more inclusive and nuanced writing.

In #Afterhours, I found 19 poems by Iain Crichton Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Hofmann, Seamus Heaney, Jo Shapcott, Charles Boyle, Robert Crawford, Sarah Maguire, Simon Armitage, Moniza Alvi, W.N. Herbert, Elizabeth Bartlett, Neil Rollinson, Ruth Sharman, Ken Smith, Frieda Hughes, Douglas Dunn, Pascale Petit and Andrew Motion, and I responded by narratively, culturally and historically translating and transposing their poems — staying as close as possible to what they’d written, but resetting them in my childhood. The poems could only work if they were close enough to my particular Irish/Nigerian/English childhood, and that they do is proof that the writers engaged with the topics, challenges and concerns that governed my adolescent life. In them, I find solidarity, understanding, safe spaces, kinship and in that, family.

#Afterhours Anthology / Diary / Memoir / Poems
by Inua Ellams + Selected Poets
£9.99 from Nine Arches Press

Call for Papers for The Complete Works Poetry

Conference on Diversity in Poetry:
Celebrating Ten Years of TCW

Goldsmiths University November 9th, 2017

Abstract of Papers due in by June 1st, 2017 (no more than 500 words)
Length of papers- maximum of 40 minutes

The Complete Works  Poetry is a national organisation promoting diversity, quality and innovation in British poetry. In its ten years it has seen the level of black and Asian poets published by major presses rise from less than 1% to 14%. On November 9th we will be hosting a conference on diversity in poetry to celebrate the changes, highlight on-going areas of concern and promote robust discussions around the complexity of diversity.

We are looking for papers of no more than 40 minutes (allowing time for questions) which contribute something unique to the on-going debate. Papers can be academic in style but we also welcome more creative interpretations and approaches. We are looking for papers which deal with diversity in the wider sense and, if possible, which offer ways forward. We will also expect papers to show a good awareness of the work achieved by The Complete Works and the changes of the last ten years.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Nathalie Teitler, Director of the Complete Works Poetry:

The conference will include strands about translation (with Modern Poetry in Translation), education (Barbican Young Poets) and Disability (Nine Arches Press) with readings and performances.

Updates The Complete Works 3 – March 2017

Raymond Antrobus

  • Published in Poetry Magazine, edited by Don Share and aslo recorded for the website. Touring the States funded by the Poetry Foundation, Concordia University and Speaking Volumes.
  • Published in Poetry Review
  • Working with young Syrian refugees for English PEN
  • Editing a Magma Poetry magazine issue on deafness
  • Board member of the Poetry School
  • Pamphlet to be released by Outspoken in April called To Sweeten Bitter


Leo Boix

  • Poems to be published in next issue of Modern Poetry in Translation
  • Published in a forthcoming anthology of Latin American poets (in Spanish)
  • Reading at the Cinammon Club in March with Mona Arshi, read at Exiled Ink event with Saradha Soobrayen
  • Residency at St Gabriel’s School with bi-lingual children (Latin American background)


Omikemi Natacha Bryan

  • Pamphlet published by Gatehouse Press in December available to buy at Gatehouse Press


Victoria Adukwei Bailey

  • Pamphlet, Girl B, to be published in New Generation Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes. Available from April 2017.
  • Reading at Goldsmiths Lit Live, on Thursday 16th March 2017
  • Featuring in and reading at the launch of latest Litro Magazine issue on May 27th 2017
  • Featuring on Poetry and Politics panel discussion at University of East Anglia, on 4th March 2017, alongside George Szirtes and Jo Thompson (Rialto). Part of the ‘War of Words’ Progressive Media Conference hosted by The Norwich Radical.
  • Will lead two creative writing workshops for Theatre Royal Norwich as part of their Get Creative Festival in April 2017
  • To be published in Orlando, an online and print magazine:
  • One of five young poets commissioned by Otter-Barry Books and Pop-Up Projects to provide work for an upcoming collection for readers aged 11-14.


Will Harris

  • Pamphlet with Happenstance to be published in June
  • Teaching onlinle course at the Poetry School


Ian Humphreys

  • To be published in the Emma Press Anthology, Bestiary anthology (edited by Anja Konig & Liane Strauss) – due October 2017
  • Read at Poets and Players with Hannah Lowe and Jane Yeh – Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
  • Poem ‘Dragged Under’ reviewed in The Rialto


Momtaza Mehri

  • Pamphlet to be published in New Generation Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes


Yomi Sode

  • Accepted on to Callaloo workshop
  • To be published in Bare Lit anthology
  • Show at the Roundhouse on 8th June 2017 (SOLD OUT IN ONE DAY)
  • Mentoring young writers


Degna Stone

  • Pamphlet forthcoming with Inscribe/Peepal Tree Press (will have more details after April)
  • To be published in the Emma Press anthology, Bestiary
  • To be published in the Seren anthology, Writing Motherhood
  • Co-editing issue 9 of Butcher’s Dog magazine (alongside Joanne Clement and Edward Doegar)
  • On the Evolution of the Editor panel at the PBS symposium during Newcastle Poetry Festival May 2017

Regret Everything

I was talking to a friend about a bad relationship I’d been in at university and she asked if I regretted it. I did—and do—but only in the way I regret every decision preceding and following it as well. I thought of the poem ‘As Bad as a Mile’ by Philip Larkin:

Watching the shied core
Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,
Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

Of failure spreading back up the arm
Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,
The apple unbitten in the palm.

It’s ur-Larkin, right? Depressing, fatalistic, quiescent. And yet I’ve always found myself drawn to its depiction of failure. Each word feels grimly preordained: there’s ‘shied’, with its echo of postlapsarian shyness/shame; ‘striking’, as in out rather than lucky; ‘skidding’, which speaks for itself; ‘spreading’, which connotes illness or Larkin’s previously-sighted green leaves of grief; and ‘unbitten’ which, in this case, transforms “once bitten, twice shy” into “once bitten, forever shied”. Every note of disappointment rings true.

Larkin begins with the present participle ‘watching’, as if the speaker has become a bystander to the disaster of their own life. And though a single event—a bad throw—is being described, the use of the present continuous tense hints at a larger, unbiddable chain of causation. Failure is not comprised of single actions in time; it’s written into us.

Most people think of holding on to regret as a bad thing; others temper this and say: “I regret X, but it wasn’t all bad and, hey, I learnt a lot.” We might regret moving jobs or buying a gym subscription or entering into a bad relationship—experiences that could always have turned out better or been better managed. For Larkin, this is just steam rising from the cold, hard fact of failure.

We live out of regret. By which I mean, an inbuilt sense of wrongness, of error, of hurt. The self is not a precisely stacked set of dishes, or the human manifestation of a LinkedIn profile, one shining achievement leading on inevitably from another. The self is a negative image, the shadow cast by life’s dismal glare.

Larkin’s title draws on the expression “a miss is as good as a mile,” which I interpret as meaning: the act of aiming for anything creates the expectation of loss. Or, in the words of Homer Simpson: “trying is the first step towards failure.” Once missed, always missed. Which is where delusion and habit come in, softening the blow; in our dreams, the apple core always hits the centre of the bin.

Perhaps what I like about this poem is the utopian gesture at its heart, the sense that what Larkin is really trying to do is admit failure a priori and so overcome it. A world of total failure, after all, is the same as one in which no failure exists at all. If we could miss and regret everything, nothing (and no one) might finally be un-missed.


Will Harris

New Events for 2016

It’s been another amazing year for the Complete Works poets.
 For full details of the poets please check their websites.

A few highlights:

* The poets have attended hundreds of festivals and events all around the world including the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, reaching tens of thousands in live audiences.

* Online the poets have reached millions, largely due to the extraordinary success of Warsan Shire whose poetry featured on Beyonce’s new album Lemonade.

Forthcoming full collections include:

– Kayo Chingonyi with Chatto and Windus
-Malika Booker and Warsan Shire with Penguin Modern Poets series
– Jay Bernard with Bloodaxe
-Inua Ellams and Rishi Dastidar with Nine Arches

* Malika Booker was the Chair of the Forward Prize judging panel and Judge of Foyles Young Poet of the year award 2016.

* Sarah Howe completed her Harvard Fellowship and has had a wide range of readings. She will be appearing with Stephen Fry at an event in November.

* Karen McCarthy Woolf will complete her PhD soon and Denise Saul is working towards hers.

* The poets have had a range of residencies including: Eileen Pun in Hong Kong, Karen McCarthy Woolf at the National Maritime Museum,  Kayo Chingonyi at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (Associate poet).

The Complete Works Poets Round 3 are also doing great things:

* Ian Humphreys won the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize
* Leonardo Boix published his second collection in Spanish in Latin America.
* Yomi Sode is currently touring with the British Council in New York. He performed his one man show as a scratch version at the Southbank and is working towards taking it on tour.
* Raymond Antrobus has appeared at numerous festivals and completed his level 1 certificate in sign language.