Rowyda Amin was born in Newfoundland, Canada to parents of Saudi Arabian and Irish origin. She has lived in Riyadh and London and is now based in Stamford, Connecticut. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Desert Sunflowers (Flap Pamphlets). Rowyda won first prize in the 2012 Venture Award for poetry chapbooks from Flipped Eye Press. In 2009, she was awarded the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for poetry. Rowyda has performed at many UK venues including the 2011 Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Brighton Festival, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Festival Hall. Her poems have appeared in several magazines, including Poetry Review, Magma and Wasafiri, and in the anthologies Ten (Bloodaxe Books 2010), Bird Book : Towns, Parks, Gardens and Woodland, (Sidekick Books, 2011), Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon Press, 2012), Coin Opera (Sidekick Books, 2009) and Exposure (Cinnamon Press, 2010). https://rowyda.wordpress.com/
Malika Booker is a British writer, poet and multi-disciplinary artist of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage. Her poems are widely published in anthologies and journals including: The African Caribbean Folio (RaedleafPoetry India, 2015), Bayou Magazine (Issue 60, 2013), Ten New Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010), The India International Journal 2005, The Penguin Anthology of Black British Writing (Penguin, 2000) and Bittersweet Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry (The Woman’s Press, 1998). She has represented British writing internationally, both independently and with the British Council in: Slovenia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Russia, and Azerbaijan and was Hampton Court Palace’s Writer in Residence in 2004. Malika is the founder of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, a writer’s collective for beginning and emerging poets. Her first stage work Absolution was commissioned by The Austrian Cultural Institute and Apples & Snakes and toured nationally. She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths University. Breadfruit, a pamphlet, was published by flippedeye in 2007 and recommended by the Poetry Society and her poetry collection Pepper Seed was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2013 and longlisted for the OCM Bocas 2014 prize. Pepper Seed was also shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize for first full collection 2014. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and was inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Malika is currently chair of the judging panel for The Forward Prize for Poetry and a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at University of Leeds where she is working on her next poetry collection and theatre show. http://malikabooker.com/
Janet Kofi-Tsekpo’s writing has appeared in anthologies and journals, including Ten (Bloodaxe, 2010), Red (Peepal Tree, 2010), Bittersweet(The Women’s Press, 1998), Wasafiri and Poetry Review. Her pamphlet, Yellow Iris, was published in 2015 by Akashic books as part of a series entitled Eight New Generation African Poets ( Ed. Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani). She lives in London.
Mir Mahfuz Ali
Mir Mahfuz Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1958 and moved to the UK in the 1970s. He has worked as a male model, a tandoori chef and as a dancer and actor. He is renowned for his extraordinary voice: a rich, throaty whisper brought about by a Bangladeshi policeman trying to silence the singing of anthems during a public anti-war demonstration. He has given readings and performances at The Royal Opera House and in other theatres in Britain and elsewhere; on BBC Newsnight Review, Radio 4, and the World Service as well as speaking at a number of conferences and festivals, including addressing the Home Office on integration policy. His poetry has appeared in London Magazine, Poetry London, Poetry Review and PN Review. His influences include Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Jibananda Das (1899-1954). Mahfuz is an active member of Exiled Writer’s Ink, which works to promote the creative expression of refugees and exiled writers and encourages cross-cultural dialogue. Midnight, Dhaka, is his first full collection of poetry.
Nick Makoha represented Uganda at Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in London. A former Writer in Residence for Newham Libraries, his one-man-show My Father & Other Superheroes debuted to sold-out performances at 2013 the London Literature Festival and is currently on tour. He has been a panelist at both the inaugural Being a Man Festival (Fatherhood: Past, Present & Future) and Women of the World Festival, (Bringing Up Boys). In 2005 award-winning publisher flippedeye launched its pamphlet series with his debut The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man. Part of his soon to be published first full collection The Kingdom Of Gravity is in the anthology Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press). Nick recently won the Brunel African Poetry prize and has poems that appear in the The Poetry Review, Rialto, The Triquarterly Review and the Boston Review. http://nickmakoha.com/
Karen McCarthy Woolf
Karen McCarthy Woolf was born in London to English and Jamaican parents. She is a writer, editor and critic, whose debut poetry collection An Aviary of Small Birds was selected as a Guardian/Observer Book of the Year, shortlisted for both the Forward and Fenton Aldeburgh prizes 2015 and described in The Poetry Review as ‘extraordinarily moving and technically flawless’. In 2013 she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council doctoral research scholarship at the University of London, where she is investigating new ways of writing about nature, the city and the sacred.
Her drama Dido of Kenwood, a fictional imagining of the life of an aristocratic mixed-race girl who lived in Hampstead in the 1760s, was broadcast as a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play in 2006. As an editor the anthology Bittersweet: Black Women’s Contemporary Poetry was reviewed as an anthology of ‘tremendous depth’ (Independent) and is still featured on numerous literature writing reading lists. Karen was writer-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in the summer of 2015, responding to an exhibit on migration. In the last year she has represented British writing at tours and festivals that have taken her to Singapore, the United States, Sweden and the Caribbean. She was a selector for the Faber & Faber New Poets Scheme, is on the steering committee of The Complete Works and a trustee for Poetry London. In 2015 she was selected for Versopolis, a European wide community of poets represented at poetry festivals across the continent.
Karen has a long and active interest in cross-platform collaboration: her writing has been commissioned as an installation, selected for Poems on the Underground, produced as a poetry/choreography film and dropped from a helicopter over the Houses of Parliament by the Chilean arts collective Casagrande. Her poems are published and anthologised widely, in both the UK and the US in a variety of magazines including Modern Poetry in Translation, The Poetry Review, Ploughsharesand Prairie Schooner. She has taught creative writing for a wide range of organisations and clients, including the University of London, Royal Holloway, The Poetry School and the Arvon Foundation. She has also facilitated learning environments and workshops for refugees, migrants, schoolchildren and museum goers, everywhere from universities, prisons and refugee detention centres to Buckingham Palace. http://mccarthywoolf.com/
Shazea Quraishi is a Pakistani-born Canadian poet, playwright and translator based in the UK. Her poems have been published widely in the UK and US in publications including The Financial Times, Poetry Review, PN Review, the Rialto and Modern Poetry in Translation, and she is the author of two poetry collections: The Courtesans Reply [flipped eye publishing, 2012] and The Art of Scratching [Bloodaxe Books, 2015]. She has performed her work at venues including Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, Ledbury Festival, T-Junction, Brighton Festival, Keats House, The Royal Festival Hall and Edinburgh Book Festival. In 2015, she received a Brooklease Grant from the Royal Society of Literature to write her next collection, and an award from the Artists International Development Fund of The British Council and Arts Council to research her play. Shazea facilitates creative writing/reading and translation workshops in the UK and abroad in museums, prisons, refugee centres, festivals, schools and universities. She teaches with English PEN, Translators in Schools and The Poetry School, and is an artist in residence with Living Words.
Roger Robinson is a Trinidadian poet and performer who has been based in London for a number of years now. He has had poems published in important anthologies like The Fire People (Payback Press, 1998), edited by Lemm Sissay, IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, edited by Courttia Newland and Kadija Sesay (Penguin, 2000), and more recently Out of Bounds – British Black and Asian Poets, edited by Jackie Kay, James Procter and Gemma Robinson (Bloodaxe Books, 2012). He has also published a collection of short stories, Adventures in 3 D, and two poetry collections, Suitcase and Suckle. The Butterfly Hotel (Peepal Tree, 2013) is Roger Robinson’s most recent poetry collection and can be seen as an extended meditation on the themes of exile, belonging and home. http://rogerrobinsononline.com/
Denise Saul is a poet and fiction writer. Her White Narcissi (flipped eye Publishing), was Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice for Autumn 2007. She is the winner of the 2011 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Denise’s House of Blue (Rack Press) was PBS Pamphlet Recommendation for Summer 2012. She is currently a Poetry Book Society pamphlet reviewer. Denise is a PhD candidate in creative writing (poetry) at University of Roehampton, UK. In 2016, she was awarded Arts Council funding for her video poem project, Silent Room: A Journey of Language. www.denisesaul.co.uk
Seni Seneviratne is a writer, poet, performer, singer and multidisciplinary creative artist of English and Sri Lankan heritage. She works with words, voice, cameras, clay and crafts. She has given readings, performances and workshops in UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Egypt and Kuwait. She currently works as a freelance writer, mentor, trainer and creative artist. She has collaborated with film-makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists. She is currently working on her next book based on her father’s experiences in North Africa in the second World War. Her debut poetry collection, Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin, (2007, Peepal Tree Press) includes a poem, which was Highly Commended in the Forward Poetry Prize. Her second collection, The Heart of It, (2012, Peepal Tree Press) is described by Mimi Khalvati as “a tender, moving collection full of passionate intensity and an unswerving faith in the power of reconciliation and love” and includes her poem ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which was shortlisted in the 2010 Arvon International Poetry Competition.
Her paper, Speaking the Unspeakable through Poetry: The Search for a Place of Healing and Witness after Trauma formed the basis of her input at a Symposium hosted by Virginia Tech (Nov 2012) – Writing and Reconciliation: Identity, Displacement and Narrative in Sri Lanka – and was presented at a conference, Engaging the Other, University of Free State, South Africa (December 2012). In March 2016 she received funding from the Arts Council for a collaborative project with Shirley Harris (digital mixed media artist). The final work will be launched at Off the Shelf Literature Festival. The installation and immersive performance, which combines theatre, poetry, digital art and music, will explore themes of power and control, gender identity, language and silence, trauma and recovery using ancient myths which resonate with contemporary themes. http://seniseneviratne.com/