I only started to get into poetry in Sixth Form where I had some wonderful teachers who put me onto Tony Harrison and John Agard – they were two poets that just stuck in my head as people using the language that they spoke to create poetry. With Harrison, we’d looked at V and it wasn’t the swearing that resonated with me, it was the fact he’d used the word ‘mam’.
Between that a lifelong love of music, I just really loved using words in different ways and having fun with language. I felt brave enough after a few months of writing to try giving performing ago, so started doing open mics around Manchester (I’m from Salford) in 2009 and won some local slams.
When I moved to London in 2011, my mental health took a bit of a dive and I couldn’t deal with performing again. In 2014, I’d got talking to a friend on my degree course (who was and remains an amazing and accomplished poet) and showed her some of my writing – she encouraged me to apply for the Barbican Young Poets and I got on and was part of the programme from 2014 to 2016. BYP was an incredible experience and remains one of the happiest periods of my life and I made lots of new friends and came on a lot as a poet, thanks to the support and mentoring of Jacob Sam-La Rose, Kayo Chinonyi, Jasmine Cooray, and Rachel Long.
In that time, I performed at a lot of venues in addition to the Barbican Centre, including the Southbank Centre, People’s Palace, Rich Mix and Tate Modern, as well as a number of festivals such as Curious Festival (where I wrote a poem in Anglo-Saxon which was backed by a jazz quartet), the Barbican Weekender, Walthamstow Garden Party. I was part of the team responsible for curating National Poetry Day 2014 at the Southbank Centre, performed at Inua Ellams RAP Party, and worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on a commission which formed part of the the BBC’s Centenary commemorations.
My stage poetry seeks to defy expectation, push the limits of performance and break down the barriers between poet and crowd.
I’ve been published in a few places such as the Barbican anthologies, Watermarks anthology and Marble Poetry, longlisted for the erbacce prize, and nominated for the first Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.
I am the current poet-in-residence for the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL. My work here is used to highlight and complement the research that is being done by the institute, providing a different way for people to interact with their work.
Other things that are important to know about me are that I’m non-binary (they/them/their pronouns), I love cats and Pepsi, and I like to box.
- A performance at Curious Festival, for which I had written a poem in Anglo Saxon and was accompanied by a small Jazz band. I named us Sax ‘N’ Tongue.
- Barbican Weekender, producing work in response to UVAs Momentum exhibition.
- Part of the team responsible for curating National Poetry Day 2014 at the Southbank Centre.
- Had a poem commissioned and recorded for the Wellcome Collection.
- Finalist in the International Limerick Competition 2014, held in its birthplace.
- Longlisted for the erbacce press prize 2016.
- Nominated for the first Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.