Mona Arshi

Mona ArshiMona Arshi was born in 1970 to Punjabi Sikh parents in West London and grew up in Hounslow. She worked for a decade as a lawyer for the human rights charity Liberty UK, acting on many high profile cases, including that of the ‘right-to-die’ campaigner, Diane Pretty. Her debut collection, Small Hands (Liverpool University Press, 2015), was six years in the writing. It features poems in terza rima, ghazals and a ballad and the subjects include the loss of her younger brother, who died three years ago. ‘Observing the anguish of a family trying to come to terms and survive was a difficult task, but one I felt I had to negotiate, especially if you believe that one of the functions of poetry is to make the unbearable, bearable.’ She rejects the idea that poets are overly sensitive and that poetry can only be appreciated by certain people. ‘It’s simply not true. Writers, and poets in particular, are pathologically inquisitive about the physical world around them and poetry is simply the world we live in, translated into language.’ She studied for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2010, won the inaugural Magma Poetry competition in 2011 and was joint winner in 2014 of the Manchester Poetry Prize. Her work is included in Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe 2014). In 2015 Mona was awarded the Forward Prize for first collection.


Jay Bernard

Jay BernardJay Bernard was born in London in 1988. She was a winner of the Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award in 2005, and of the Respect Slam in 2004. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry London, Chroma, The Guardian, The Independent, and in several anthologies. The Guardian named Bernard as one of the UK’s most inspirational 16-year-olds in 2004. Her first collection of poems, Your Sign is Cuckoo, Girl (tall-lighthouse) was published in 2008 and was selected as the Poetry Book Society’s pamphlet choice. Bernard has read her work at Buckingham Palace, the Globe Theatre, London, and at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s inaugural event at the newly refurbished Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. She has written for the Royal Opera House and has read on a number of BBC radio and television shows, including The Verb and The Culture Show. In 2008, Bernard was poet in residence at a north London allotment, writing on the theme of place as part of the Apples & Snakes project My Place or Yours. She was also a poet in residence at the StAnza Poetry Festival, St Andrews, in 2010, and has acted as a mentor for younger poets taking part in SLAMbassadors UK. Her pamphlet, The Red and Yellow Nothing, was published by Ink, Sweat and Tears in April, 2016. She is a graphic artist as well as a poet. Her work has appeared on the cover of Wasifiri, and in Chroma, Diva and Litro.


Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo ChingonyiKayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993. He holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Sheffield and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and works as a writer, events producer, and creative writing tutor. Kayo has also been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally. In 2012 he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by The Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival. Kayo won the 2012 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, presented annually by The Poetry Review and The Poetry Society. In 2014, he was one of ten poets selected for The Complete Works 2 mentoring scheme. In 2015, he was appointed Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, and he is currently poet-in-residence on a joint project between Royal Holloway, University of London and Counterpoints Arts exploring the intersection of migration, art and activism. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012), and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection is forthcoming in 2017 from Chatto & Windus. He co-edited the Autumn 2016 issue of The Poetry Review.


Rishi Dastidar

Rishi DastidarRishi Dastidar’s poetry has been published by the Financial Times, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre and New Welsh Review amongst many others, and has been included in anthologies including Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins, 2012), Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014) and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016 (Eyewear Press).
He has been a runner-up in the 2011 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, the 2014 Troubadour International Poetry Prize, and was long-listed in the 2015 National Poetry Competition. He is a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, having been part of the Poetry School/Rialto editorial development programme between 2014-15, and teaches regularly for the Poetry School. He also guest edited And Other Poems during Summer 2016. His debut collection of poems, Ticker tape, will be published by Nine Arches Press in March 2017.
Rishi is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, and serves as a trustee of the writing development agency Spread The Word.


Edward Doegar

ED PhotoEdward Doegar’s poems have appeared in various magazines, including Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Ambit and Poetry Ireland Review. He has written reviews and published translations in Prac Crit and Poetry London. He is currently an assistant editor at The Rialto on their editor development programme and lives in London, where he works as the general manager of The Poetry Society.



Inua Ellams

InuaBorn in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is a poet, playwright & performer, graphic artist & designer. He is a Complete Works poet alumni and a graphic designer at White Space Creative Agency. He facilitates workshops in creative writing where he explores reoccurring themes in his work – Identity, Displacement and Destiny – in accessible, enjoyable ways for participants of all ages and backgrounds. His creative work has been recognised with a number of awards, most recently, The Live Canon International Poetry Prize, an Arts Council of England Award, a Wellcome Trust Award, twice shortlisted for the Brunel Prize for African Poetry, longlisted for the Alfred Fagan Award, and a 2009 Edinburgh Fringe First Award. He has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Tate Modern, Louis Vuitton, Chris Ofili, BBC Radio & Television. His first three books of poetry ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’ and ‘Candy Coated Unicorn and Converse’ are available from Flipped Eye and Akashic Books. Several plays including the critically acclaimed Black T-shirt Collection and award-winning The 14th Tale are available from Oberon. In 2005, he founded the Midnight Run— an arts-filled, night-time, playful, walking, urban movement that attempts to reconnect inner city lives with inner city spaces.


Sarah Howe

Sarah Howe credit Hayley MaddenSarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, she moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry Review,  Poetry London, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Ploughshares and Poetry, as well as anthologies such as Ten: The New Wave and four editions of The Best British Poetry. She has performed her work at festivals internationally and on BBC Radio 3 & 4. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism. Previous fellowships include a Research Fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, a Hawthornden Fellowship, the Harper-Wood Studentship for English Poetry and a Fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute.


Eileen Pun

Eileen PunEileen Pun was born in New York, is the daughter of Haitian and Haitian-Chinese parents, and lives in Cumbria where she works as a poet and artist.
She was selected as a 2011 Escalator prize-winner by Writers’ Centre Norwich and also awarded a writing and research grant by Arts Council England. In 2015 Eileen received a Northern Writer’s Award and a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship (LUTSF) to China in support of her interdisciplinary work in movement and poetry. She is a fellow of the inaugural Sun Yat-Sen University International Writers’ Residency, Guangzhou where she presented her poetry and conducted a seminar for the English Poetry Studies Institute (EPSI). In March 2016 Eileen was invited as a guest reader for a residential to the Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank for Creative Writing.


Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe imageAdam Lowe is a writer/publisher who has been nominated for four Lambda Awards and three British Fantasy Awards. In 2008, his magazine, Polluto, was awarded a Spectrum Award. He is currently shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Award. He was 2010 young writer in residence at the I Love West Leeds Festival. He writes for Bent, including a column as alter ego Beyonce Holes, and does promotion for Peepal Tree Press.

 Adam is a graduate of Street Voices and an active member of Young Inscribe. In the past he has been a part of and Orson Scott Card’s Writers’ Workshop. Adam regularly delivers workshops and runs an annual mentoring/masterclass programme for new writers who specialise in weird and cross-genre writing: the Dog Horn Masterclasses. Because of his work in the region, he is a Youth Ambassador for the Cultural Olympiad.

 He has appeared in Word Riot, Unlikely Stories, Cadaverine, Chimeraworld 5, Leeds Guide, WAMACK, Saucytooth’s, Kaleidotrope, PoetCasting, and Ex Plus Ultra. Adam’s academic writing has appeared at University of Glasgow’s eSharp and is forthcoming in Queering the Fantastic. Last year his debut novella, Troglodyte Rose, was released in limited hardback by Cadaverine Publications. An expanded novel-length paperback was published by Lethe Press in 2012. Currently he is part of a young writers’ group at West Yorkshire Playhouse, where his BBC-commissioned short play ‘Deep Blue Skin’ was showcased in March. He has been commissioned to lead an Olympics-funded youth writing project for Barnsley museums and is currently working on his next novel.


Warsan Shire

Warsan ShireShire was born on August 1st, 1988 in Kenya to Somali parents. She emigrated to the United Kingdom at the age of one. Shire has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing
In 2011, Shire released Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, a poetry pamphlet published by flipped eye. Shire has read her poetry in various artistic venues throughout the world, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, North America, South Africa and Kenya. Her poems have been republished in various literary publications, such as the Poetry Review, Magma and Wasafiri. Additionally, Shire’s verse has been featured in the Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011) and Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014) collections. They have also been translated into a number of languages, including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish and Estonian. As of 2016, Shire is working on her first full poetry collection, having put out a limited release pamphlet called Her Blue Body in 2015. Shire’s poetry featured prominently in Beyoncé’s 2016 feature-length film Lemonade. Her full collection will be published by Copper Canyon in the United States.