Upcoming Events



It's one thing to read a story and let the words on the page take you to a whole new world in your mind’s eye. It’s another thing to hear a story and feel the voice deliver even more details within the words, exposing joyous, humourous or indeed morose secrets within. Spoken word is rapidly becoming one of my favourite mediums of delivery, and there’s been various occasions where I’ve shared my work in this way. Below are some upcoming events of my book readings, as well as a few previous ones.


**Upcoming events**

Summary:


 Accompanying my writing and performing poems and diasporic stories from across the world, I also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects, including my upcoming presentation ‘Past Speculation For Future Inspiration’. This will be delivered at this year’s Seen from Èkó (Lagos) Conference 2024, the inaugural platform of the Atlantica series, at University of Lagos (UNILAG) organised jointly by UNILAG Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS) and University of Exeter, Tues 25th - Wed 26th June


My presentation focuses on ‘unlearning existing modes of perceiving the world’ by looking at the benefits of centring Black subjects within storytelling using real cultures and historical events as the basis of worldbuilding. Sociologist Kehinde Andrews notes, ‘art has often been explicitly used as a tool to advocate for white supremacy,’ to which there has been push back from Black Westerners by centring melanated subjects in non-African cultural output. This includes London-based activists Legally Black ‘recreating famous movie posters, including Titanic and Harry Potter, with Black people taking the leading roles,’ and artists reimagining Birth of Venus, Creation of Adam and Mona Lisa with Black focuses. However, surely the vast annuals of original stories and heroes throughout the African continent would be a better focus in film posters/paintings to celebrate authentic melanated cultures, beauty, ingenuity and diverse Blackness in general. Rather than inserting Black subjects into white art forms, it seems more sensible to insert Black subjects into Black art forms inspired by long-established cultural identities. 

In the literature/written arts, diasporic speculative fiction authors using Yorùbá culture and Ifá spirituality/philosophy for their worldbuilding include Nigerian-American Tómi Adéyẹmí in her Children of Blood and Bone novel series. Similarly, in my forthcoming short story collection Ẹrẹ́dò Games (named for my hometown’s historical landmark Sùǹgbọ́ Ẹrẹ́dò), the central parameters are determined by our Kọ́jọ́dá calendar. First exposure to these Ifá and Kọ́jọ́dá aspects has elicited excitement from Yorùbá culture novices with some thinking their description sounded futuristic rather than a millennia-old West African tradition (current calendar year 10,065). Such excitement can also build confidence in younger diasporic generations as consumers enjoy pre-colonial Yorùbá cultural 'purity' untainted by its post-colonial disruption, upending any residual white supremacist messaging by celebrating our melanated identities through artistry. In this way, the diaspora can truly reap the storytelling benefits of past speculation for future inspiration.





**Previous events: performances**

Summary:
*Designing Diverse Destinations: Inclusivity & Audiences Day 2023 - Arts Marketing Association
*NAE YOUnique Festival 2023, Global Majority, “Finding Voice & Recode Your World”
*iEMPOW3R: Spoken Word & Poetry, IWD 2023
*Poets Against Racism, Stand Up To Racism and Refugee Forum: Refugees Welcome 2023
*Slam-o-Vision: UNESCO Cities of Literature Global Poetry Slam 2022
*Unlock the Story 'Stained Glass Eyes'National Black Writers Conference 2021
*Spread the Word: Writing Happiness anthology launch = 'The Present Future' (vid pending)
*Leeds Literature Festival: Weighted Words anthology launch = 'Strong Tea' (vid pending)
*Commonword: Loose Connections anthology launch = Identity - Global Roots




Notts vs Derby: Poetry Slam is a free event on Sunday 16th June at The Old Cold Store. Join us for a fiery night capping off this year’s Poetry Festival with the ultimate Slam challenge as the best of Nottingham and Derby go head to head in a battle of words that will leave you speechless. Champions from each city bring their best poems together to compete for honour, glory and a grand prize. There’s gonna be fireworks at the only Nottingham-Derby derby that matters!


The fun starts from 6pm until 8pm, blending the literature and performing arts with expert precision…and there just might be some goody bags of poetry related goods too! No booking is required and rather than an entrance fee, please give donations to arts projects. See you on Sunday at The Old Cold Store, Queensbridge Road, Nottingham, NG2 1NB as we round out the Nottingham Poetry Festival 2024 and give a taster of the upcoming Derby Poetry Festival 2024.




Defend The Arts - Give us Bread and Roses is a free event on Wednesday 12th June organised by host Manjit Sahota of Poets Against Racism and the iconic Malt Cross, a not-for-profit heritage event space. Join us for an empowering night of spoken word at the Nottingham Poetry Festival, pushing back against the spending cuts in Nottingham and other local authorities in the Midlands, and saying it’s time to defend the arts, music, and poetry in our cities. We are opposed to all cuts in services in our cities, the vulnerable, poorest, and most diverse communities are the ones who suffer the most, but we also need to defend the arts sector. Our cities should be well funded to look after the needs of everyone: basic services as well as music, dance, art, and poetry. Poets Against Racism and AccessAbility Arts are combining to give you a night not to forget, flying the flag for accessible art, poetry, and culture, as the song goes, Give us Bread and Roses. 

This evening session (7-10pm) will have live poetry performances from brilliant poets from across the Midlands, sharing their words to showcase the power of poetry. I will also be reading a selection of poems spotlighting & countering racism. There will also be an open mic for guests to sign up to on the night. No booking is required and rather than an entrance fee, please give donations to arts projects. Join the resistance at Malt Cross, 16 St James's Street, Nottingham, NG1 6FG.
 


Saltbox Presents
Nottingham Black Creatives Network @nottsbcn is a free event series hosted by Cara Thompson to take over the SP stage and showcase the music and artwork being made in the NBCN community. During this debut 3-week residency, come see brilliant NBCN artists from a wide range of practices and backgrounds, working together to empower and support each other, as well as encourage the development and connection of Black artistry in the city. Here’s the events breakdown

05/04 (19:30) - Meet the Network - join us as the NBCN introduces themselves to the public for the first time, including performances from @caracreator @hilthepoet @aturiya_i.s @oforimegan @spen_sax and @davinasongbird 

12/04 (19:00) - Notts Black Creatives Mixer - an opportunity for black creatives in Nottingham to connect and hop on the open mic, featuring live poetry and music performances from @abiodunoa @chrisoliver_spokenword @ingrid.mclaren and @elmzxix 

19/04 (19:00) - NBCN Celebration - a showcase party to celebrate the introduction of the network to our city, with performances from @sonofman.music @davinasongbird @caracreator and @ccae_arts with a DJ Tano set to finish the night! 

I’ll be performing a range of poems at the second event on Friday 12th April. As ever, there’ll be an open mic at every event and it’s open to everyone. Join us to claim your spot on the bill or to experience the NBCN for the very first time! We especially encourage any Black creatives out there to come along, enjoy the show, great company and immaculate vibes whilst learning about the network and connect with other fellow creatives making waves in the community at Saltbox, Bolero Square, Nottingham, NG1 1LY.



Hey, I can’t believe it’s now almost a year since seeing posts for the 2022 UNESCO Global Poetry Slam ‘SlamoVision’ local heats in Nottingham…and feeling I was too busy to go along. Though one convincing nudge from a friend later, and next thing you know, I became the global champion and have been riding the high of international recognition as an accomplished poet with work published in various countries worldwide! This interview on Notts TV summed it up nicely (13:30 mins in).


So now it’s happening all over again! It really does feel like winning the lottery with that very apt tagline ‘it could be you!’ So I was happy to encourage other budding poets to unleash their inner wordsmith at this year’s local heats.


It was a huge honour to be invited to judge this year’s global entries from the other participating UNESCO Cities of LiteratureDublin (Ireland), Exeter (UK), Iowa (US), Kuhmo (Finland), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Manchester (UK), Melbourne (Australia), Québec (Canada), Reykjavik (Iceland), Tartu (Estonia), and Vilnius (Lithuania). What a collection of truly excellent poetic talent on display this year, many with multilingual deliveries that were proudly Crossing Poetic Lines. I was happy to therefore rigorously review the original language text and not just the English translations(!) 


Now we’re in the home straight. Alongside this year’s contestants, I’ll also be reading some new poems at the SlamoVision Grand Finale, taking place on Tuesday 5th December 2023, 6pm at Metronome, Marco Island, Huntingdon Street, Nottingham, NG1 1AP. Get your tickets here, and get ready to be poetry slammed on a global scale!
 


Adu Maadan: Processing Trauma in Black Bodies is an art exhibition launching on Friday 3rd November (5-10pm) by Yorùbá-Nigerian artist Cornelius Toks Browne. This highly anticipated event offers an affordable and accessible panacea/therapeutic space for the lived experience of racial trauma for African and Caribbean Community members in the UK. Already exhibited in Èkó (Lagos) and Paris to great acclaim, the exhibition’s memorable images originate from the 'Adu Maadan' brand name Cornelius gives to his monochrome style, which means ‘Black Man/Woman thrive and shine’ in Yorùbá. An artist with a specialism in using art as medicine, this is Cornelius’s final project for the Creating Healthy Communities Digital Badge Program of the University of Florida Centre for Arts in Medicine



The clinical rational for this exhibition is ‘vicarious re-traumatisation’ which occurs within Black communities in more circumstances than we may care to acknowledge as stated by the artist. Adequate support is however not provided for young people, adolescents and adults who find themselves in these psychologically challenging scenarios. Therefore, in addition to the impactful life-changing images that will meet your gaze at this exhibition, mind management tools will be available in the therapeutic space to help fill the vacuum of these unmet needs. I will also be reading a selection of poems dealing with my race-related experiences in both childhood and adulthood, channelling this subject matter creatively similar to Cornelius’ inspiration for this art collection. Join us to delve deep into these soul-shifting visuals at Indra Studios - Hackney Wick, Unit 002 (nearby Unit 001 and 002B), 2 Casings Way, Fish Island, London, E3 2TH.


Before the exhibition launch, come MEET THE ARTIST, in a live broadcast on Wednesday 1st November (7:30-9pm) online chaired by Marlene Greaves. Learn how Cornelius Toks Browne unknowingly self-medicated with the visual art form since he was 6 years of age, using it as an antidepressant for being separated from his biological parents. Hear how his later art practice helped long-term antidepressant users began to experience instant recovery as they used some of the techniques taught in his art workshops. Discover how he co-pioneered a unique psychoeducation that complements the intervention known as The G.Y.M. (Guard Your Mind) and its continuing positive effects on participants far and wide. All of this leading to the Adu Maadan: Processing Trauma in Black Bodies art exhibition. 

On the broadcast, Cornelius will be joined by a team of professionals who have been supporting this project: 
- The Clinical lead, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Christina Browne
- Award-winning Poet and Writer Abiodun Abdul 
- Community leader and Activist Rashid Nix 
- Creative and Expressive Writing workshop Facilitator Janet Browne




The Power of Poetry
 is a free event on Thursday 28th September organised by host Manjit Sahota of Poets Against Racism and the iconic Malt Cross, a not-for-profit heritage event space. Join us for an evening under the theme of Solidarity, Love, and Resistance. Poetry and spoken word are brilliant ways to challenge discrimination, call out our world leaders and spread the word of love against hate. You won’t be disappointed when you attend a Poets Against Racism event, so come and join us and let’s change the world with the power of poetry

This evening session (7.00pm-9.30pm) will have live poetry performances from some fantastic local Midland’s headliners, sharing their words to build a resistance to bigotry and hate. I will also be reading a selection of poems spotlighting & countering racism. There will also be an open mic for guests to sign up to on the night. No booking is required and rather than an entrance fee, please give donations to refugee projects. Join us at Malt Cross, 16 St James's Street, Nottingham, NG1 6FG.


Accompanying my writing and performing poems and diasporic stories from across the world, I also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects, including my upcoming lecture ‘Black and White Prints: Inserting Colour into UK Publishing’. This will be delivered at this year’s Situating Black British Writing Conference 2023, at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) organised by Goldsmiths College, University of London, Saturday 23rd September

My presentation focuses on the politics of Black publishing in the post-Brexit era of Black Lives Matter (BLM) through the paradigm of my upcoming memoir-polemic series ‘Stained Glass Eyes (SGE): A Memoir on Race, Family and Multiculturalism’. It first examines feeling hindered in writing on race in the general pre-Brexit/BLM social climate defined by a passive/tokenistic anti-racist sentiment. Across UK publishing, attitudes included: 

*Black authors and stories often being side-lined whilst white authors writing ‘our stories’ seemingly preferred 
*few Black/Global Majority literary agents or publishers of colour, also leading to marketing challenges for books by diverse authors 
*Black writers not being properly compensated (huge pay disparities), exposed (negligible book festivals invitations) or recognised (rare literary prizes nominations)

When writing SGE, I therefore felt my narrative needed a white persona at various points for readers to fully receive the racist recounting within as the rule vs the exceptions. I also felt only Black/Global Majority-specific versus generic writing development organisations could give me adequate support. 


In contrast, the post-Brexit/BLM publishing industry attitude has revealed a slightly stronger/more tangible anti-racist sentiment, lessening my hinderances to writing SGE content. These include: 

*Several schemes promoting inclusivity such as PRH’s WriteNow campaign and Creative Access’ paid publishing internships. 
*Supporting global majority workers in the industry through the 2016 BAME in Publishing Network.
*2017 Jhalak Prize for writers of colour, promoting more awareness of diverse narrative to a much wider readership. 

I have since felt more freedom to tell the full SGE story, particular seeing more UK publishers becoming more open to racial narratives in addition to Black British publishers like Jacaranda bringing spearheading drives like #TwentyIn2020: Black Writers, British Voices. More literary agents are also seeking diverse writers. Additionally, generic writing development groups like The Literary Consultancy facilitate mentoring scholarships benefiting writers of colour. In addition, more Black-owned hybrid publishers are helping writers publish their books without over-compromising their message. 

All this helps us better negotiate our way through the UK politics of Black Publishing.

Contact conference organiser/research assistant Degna Stone for more info on d.stone@gold.ac.uk @LdnMetArchives #SBBW 



Poetry Rising is a free/pay as you feel event on Sunday 9th July at 2-5pm hosted by Leeds poets Abdullah Adekola and Emily Zobel Marshall and organised by the David Olúwálé Memorial Association. Join us for an afternoon of poetry and spoken word, including performances and readings from ‘Oluwale Now’, the upcoming second anthology by Peepal Tree Press about David Olúwálé, a British Yorùbá-Nigerian Leeds resident drowned in the River Aire on 18th April 1969 after being systematically harassed by racist police. I’ll be reading my poem called: Ọ̀nà Kikúrú - Abridged Pathways, which is bilingual Yorùbá & English (like David and me).


You'll also hear about ‘Hibiscus Rising’, a wonderful new public sculpture by international acclaimed British Yorùbá-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA which is being created to honour the life of David Olúwálé. The sculpture offers a response to David’ story that returns to his hopeful start in Leeds before the racist onslaught against him, and calls for a more tolerant, equitable future. For more information visit www.rememberoluwale.org.


Other creative writing themes for the event draw from the city of Leeds as inspiration as well as contemporary politics, migration and resistance. There might be some surprise singing and dancing guests too! 

2-4pm: Performances of poems, creative writing and more 

4-5pm: Networking 

No booking is required and rather than an entrance fee, donations to the David Olúwálé Memorial Association are gratefully received through Eventbrite or by emailing rememberoluwale@gmail.com. Join us at The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ.


*Poets Against Racism: Poetry for Refugees

Poetry For Refugees is a free event on Sunday 25th June organised by Poets Against Racism for Refugee Week, the world’s largest arts & culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. These events enables people from different backgrounds to connect beyond labels, as well as encouraging understanding of why people are displaced, and the challenges they face when seeking safety. Refugee Week is a platform for people who have sought safety in the UK to share their experiences, perspectives and creative work on their own terms. Its vision is for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution. Founded in 1998 in the UK and held every year around World Refugee Day on the 20th of June, Refugee Week 2023 will be its 25th anniversary (19-25th June 2023). This year’s theme is ‘Compassion’ and invites people to celebrate what compassion looks like in action and show how arts and culture can help widen our circles of compassion. This theme will also be reflected at the Poetry For Refugees event, a fantastic night of poetry, spoken word, music and conversation in welcoming solidarity with our refugee and asylum-seeking communities in Nottingham and beyond.


The late afternoon session (4.30pm-6.30pm) is a open poetry workshop to discover the power of poems as a political force, facilitated by Manjit Sahota. The evening session (7.00pm-9.30pm) will have live poetry performances from some of the best poets in the Midlands including Robert PuntonTrue Colours in PoetryTaylor Riley and Laura Grevel. I will also be reading a selection of poets chronologising the refugee journey. There will also be an open mic for guests. No booking is required and rather than an entrance fee, please give donations to Refugee Week. Join us at The Carousel at 25 Hockley, Nottingham, NG1 1FH.


In addition to writing and performing poems and diasporic stories from across the world, I am also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects including my lecture Undoing the Silence: Life-Writing on Race. This will be delivered at this year’s When I Dare to be Powerful Conference 2023 at Nottingham Trent University, Wednesday 21st June



My talk looks at memoir-polemics focusing on racism. Recent examples include journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, journalist/lawyer Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish): Race, Identity and Belonging, rapper/social commentator Akala with Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, as well as my upcoming autoethnographical addition Stained Glass Eyes: A Memoir on Race, Family and Multiculturalism. Like these other life-writers, it has been a journey bringing my racist experiences to the fore. It started with xenophobia experienced at school being actively silenced by pupils walking away from conversations about racism; actively silenced by teachers squashing any complaints (mentioned in Akala’s Natives); and passively silenced by family who were going through their own strives with racial abuse and me not wanting to pile onto them. The next stage was university studies and trying to bridge the knowledge gap of racism’s existence and execution brought over from my gagged childhood leaving many questions unanswered. However, whilst higher education was enlightening in some areas, the experience evoked even more questions than it answered (mentioned in Afua Hirsch’s Brit[ish]). 


In my working life, after hearing too many stories of racial bigotry overlapping with my own, I decided to write SGE to expose racism and drive social change towards ethical parity. But self-censorship still tempted my gumption, tentatively changing all ‘controversial’ truth to red font for later omission. My text’s colour coding was apparently pandering to the same white fragility informing my speech’s colour coding from school days. No, these stories encapsulating the plight of Black people should all be in black font, the controversy held within being the audacity of racism, not the audacity of me to voice it (infused in Reni Eddo-Lodge’s title Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race). 

So, like these other life-writers/change-makers on race, watch this space to hear me undo the silence… 

Contact conference organisers Patricia Francis (PGR) for more info on whenidaretobepowerful@gmail.com 




In This Together 2023 is a free online poetry showcase organised by Poets Against Racism & Hate (PARH) USA and Poets Against Racism (PAR) UK. It takes place annually on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, Thurs 25th May, 7-8.30pm EST, which is Fri 26th May, 12-1.30am BST. The poetry and its impacts will be discussed by event host PARH USA co-founder Patricia Thrushart on a panel including PAR UK co-founder Manjit Sahota and Dr. Michelle Torregano, associate professor at Penn West University, who is also the invited speaker. This international event can be watched live on PARH USA’s YouTube channel


This international event is a celebration and call for allyship that is occurring in our area and worldwide. I will be reading Ọ̀nà Kikúrú - Abridged Pathways (UK equivalent of George Floyd: David Olúwálé); Horizon (racism/misaligned identities); and if time allows Ride the Waves (soul replenishment). Join us for original performances from poets all over the world!

You can watch the event livestream here:




For six years, Nottingham Poetry Festival shines a spotlight on the city's thriving literary scene, presenting eclectic line-ups of the finest in local, national and international poetry, and this year will be no different! Come enjoy the work of acclaimed poets and performers at the 2023 launch party on Thursday 25th May at 7pm. Hosted by Blackdrop founder Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard and Nottingham Poetry Festival’s very own Ben Macpherson, we’re kicking off the celebrations with performances from UNESCO Cities of Literature Global Poetry Slam winners  Cara Thompson and myself, NTU WRAP founder Becky Cullen, Poets Against Racism founder Manjit Sahota, and more.


Free and open to all, we invite everyone to come down, meet the community, kick back and get a taste of the amazing festival we have in store for you (with open mic slots for you to have a go!) Join us at Fox and Grapes, 21 Southwell Rd, Sneinton Market, Nottingham, NG1 1DL. The closest tram stop to this event is: Lace Market. If you would like to get in touch, please email info@nottinghampoetryfestival.com




This Poetry Reading Session marking the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder is sponsored by the Higher Ground Race Equity group of Kaplan International Pathways. Through their Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, Kaplan’s mission is deep rooted in providing a level playing field, and equal access, to education and opportunities for advancement, to people of all backgrounds. The company believes equality, diversity, and inclusion - of culture, experiences, and perspectives - are paramount to creating success and opportunity in an ever-changing world. As an educator, partner, and employer, Kaplan is committed to promoting a world in which diverse talent can equally develop, advance and thrive. In this spirit, this Poetry Reading Session was therefore commissioned by ERG and Community Engagement Manager Corina Pascal.


The event will feature original poems against racism and hate and aims to shine a light on culture, ethnicities, heritage, and race. We invite the audience to be empowered and uplifted through poetry and the discussion around racism and hate. It focuses on racism not just in the Black community but against a multitude of cultures and ethnicities. Also, the audience will walk away with actions that they can do to support the ongoing discussion both inside and outside of work. Taking place on Tuesday 23rd May, this engaging event features special guest performers including Poets Against Racism co-founders Manjit Sahota, Robert Punton, and myself. Hosted by Global Engagement and Partnerships Director Sunita Eltom.

You can watch the event livestream here - Zoom Passcode: CZ7=5*Av

Some post-event audience comments:



Designing Diverse Destinations’ is the theme of Inclusivity & Audiences (IA) Day 2023 organised by the Arts Marketing Association. Now in its 5th year, this day-long online event aims to develop understanding of accountability in the context of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for best practice from across the arts sector. The arts and cultural ecosystem is supposed to be a microcosm of society today, but the actuality is not always represented within arts organisations, or arts audiences, effectively. When facing this challenge, we think we have a clear starting point — a policy or plan to follow — and an endpoint to achieve, but are we consistently putting in the time needed to create truly diverse destinations? Taking place on Wednesday 10th May, IA Day offers the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and dive into concepts and case studies that challenge and provide new perspectives. 



Part of EDI is internationalising/decolonising institutions, so I will be sharing my poem ‘Strong Tea’ which touches on colonial legacies during the cultural, artistic and heritage interlude ‘Tea. A National Drink’ at 1:15-1:25pm. I’m also involved in the next session ‘Acknowledgement Part 2: Does the Audiences’ Lived Experience Matter to your Organisation?’ at 1:30-2:15pm. Sarah Harbison of CCA cinema and I, alongside chair Sadia Pineda Hameed, will explore how audience development can become a key part of a business plan and EDI policy review when considering the unique opportunities and challenges being an open source provides.

'Let’s Talk' Conference 2023: Global Majority & Cultural Sector

Let’s Talk is an enlightening conference from Thurs 20th to Sat 22nd April organised by acclaimed poet, artist and activist Dr Panya Banjoko and the New Art Exchange (NAE). The conference features three days full of provocation, conversation, and inspiring dialogue examining the Global Ethnic Majority* within (or outside) the Cultural Sector which aren’t happening enough. It addresses this discourse imbalance by exploring key topics with artists and communities including the notion of space, connections, and the need for public discussion to be led by, with, and for the Global Ethnic Majority. 

*NAE defines Global Ethnic Majority as a collective term that refers to people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or have been racialised as ethnic minorities. 


Forward Steps: Raising The Profile Of Global Ethnic Majority Artists on Saturday 22nd April features talks from Dr Panya Banjoko and NTU Professor Dr Sharon Monteith in NAE’s Performance Space from 10am-12pm. In this event, Panya will surface untold stories held at Nottingham Black Archive of artists and how they tried to negotiate a racist arts sector through the establishment of organisations such as CHROMA and Turbo Black Arts in the 1980s. Sharon will also delve into the archives to foreground unsung global activists in literature and explore how do we locate firm ground from which to step forward. I’ll be writing poetry in real time reaction to the event topic, energy, themes and statements (no pressure!) and Laura Decorum will be doing the same through the medium of visual art. We will both then present our creative outcomes at the end of the event.

You can watch the event livestream here:



YOUnique is an exciting annual arts festival from Thurs 9th to Sat 11th March organised by, and for, young people in Nottingham, taking place at New Art Exchange (NAE) and the surrounding community. Curated as part of the Power to Change YOUnique Programme supported by Freelands Foundation, young people learn and lead in the delivery of the festival. Participants learn all the key aspects of festival production and management and work with the NAE team, industry experts, and professional artists. They receive specialist training and development opportunities, also choosing the key themes, the artists they want to work with, and programme a weekend-long festival. This year’s YOUnique Festival themes are ‘Celebrating Hyson Green’, a Nottingham hub of multiculturalism, alongside ‘Recode Your World’ and ‘Finding Voice’ with three full days of free activities including creative workshops, interactive exhibitions, live performances, sport and much more for children, families and young people to enjoy. 


The ‘Song and Words’ event is an afternoon of acoustic music and poetry curated by NAE’s YOUnique Festival Producers taking place in the CafeBar from 3-6pm. I’ll be performing the poetry selection of Isolated Words: Black Kidult Poetry Journey in full (adapted from ‘Taking the Mic’ Nov 2022 conference presentation). The performance focuses on how Black British spoken word poets can inspire children like those attending the YOUnique festivities, but in less multicultural regions, to use poetry as a conduit to process racism. Stirred forward by these dynamic performance poets, these politicised poetic life strands are now entwined with the winding prose of my memoir-polemic ‘Stained Glass Eyes’ exposing my Black kidult journey of nevermore isolated words. Join us at New Art Exchange, 39-41 Gregory Blvd, Nottingham, NG7 6BE.


iEMPOW3R are having their second annual International Women's Day (IWD) 2023 Spoken Word & Poetry online event on Sunday 5th March. iEMPOW3R are all about building, uplifting, motivating and empowering people and this event is to address the opportunity gap for Black and Global Majority women in the arts, by providing them with a safe environment and platform to share their work. It is also to inspire creatives who write and would love to perform, providing them with an intimate, safe and encouraging platform to deliver their work. It aims to create an atmosphere of inspiration and positivity, uplifting women from all backgrounds, building community, building sisterhood and empowering gifted women to pursue their dreams. If last year taught us anything, is that it's going to be incredibly empowering and just an all round feel good event! Tickets are FREE. 


I will be debuting life writing piece ‘Tummy Pudge: Internalised Feminism’. If you'd like to perform at the event, please sign up here: www.iempow3r.com/contact or email iEMPOW3R founder and event organiser Yasmine Mohamed directly: yasmine@empow3r2020.com. So, calling all spoken word artists and poets to come through, share your gift in a safe and uplifting environment. We look forward to welcoming you!

You can watch the event livestream here:


Refugees Welcome is a free event on Saturday 25th February jointly organised by Nottingham Refugee Forum, Stand Up To Racism and Poets Against Racism, a collective of performers encouraging people from all over the world to fight racism, bigotry and Islamophobia expressively through the powerful artform that is poetry (definition widened to include singing, rapping, spoken word, writing, comedy and any other creative ways that entails expression with words.) Their mandate is to spread love, peace and positivity between everybody regardless of race, colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation through the enjoyment of live performance. This is particularly poignant with the shocking attacks on asylum seekers in Knowsley, Liverpool and Mansfield in February 2023. As a result, asylum seekers from Nottingham and Mansfield are invited to Refugees Welcome with a clear message that Nottingham will stand against these attacks and welcome refugees. 


The afternoon session (2.30pm-4.30pm) will focus on the support we can provide for refugees and asylum seekers in Nottingham, with the help of Refugee Week 2023, Nottingham Refugee Forum, Care4Calais, Poets Against Racism, NTU Global LoungeNotts TUC and Nottingham Stand Up To Racism. This session is aimed at students, refugees, artists from refugee communities and any refugee organisations in the city (looking for a drum workshop to make it lively). The evening session (6.30pm-10.00pm) has a number of poets who have agreed to perform, including Cara Thompson, Manjit Sahota, Robert Punton, True Colours, Tanvir Akram and myself. I will be reading Gone (war combatants); Iraqi Hearts (war non-combatants); Exodus (war migrants/asylum seekers); Horizon (racism); and Going Home (joyous repatriation). There will also be an open mic section to allow stories or poems from any of the attendees on the day, collectively spreading the message of absolutely ZERO tolerance for racism and bigotry from the far right. Join us at Rough Trade, 5 Broad St, Hockley, NG1 3AJ.


SlamoVision 2022

SlamoVision is the Global Poetry Slam version of ‘Eurovision’ featuring poets from UNESCO Cities of Literature all around the world (part of the UN Creative Cities Network initiative). For 2022, the participating cities are Quebec (Canada); Ljubljana (Slovenia); Exeter, Manchester, Nottingham (UK); Kuhmo (Finland); Tartu (Estonia); Vilnius (Lithuania); Iowa (USA). You can check out all the competing poems on the SlamoVision website, including my entry ‘Strong Tea’, then ‘snap’ to vote for your favourite in the People’s Choice Award (show up for your girl!)


The Grand Finale itself (in-person and online) will be on Tuesday 6th December when the judges votes will be tallied and the 2022 SlamoVision champion will be announced. I’ll be performing ‘Strong Tea’ in real time vs by video, as well as ‘Identity: Global Roots’ in the post-slam mini showcase. Looking forward to seeing you all there for some global poetry slamming fun! 

Contact event organisers: Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Nottingham Trent University WRAP (Writing, Reading and Pleasure) for more info. You can also follow updates on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter @NottmCityOfLit




In addition to diasporic stories from across the world, I am also writing an auto-ethnographical memoir of my global experiences starting in childhood called Stained Glass Eyes: Race, Multiculturalism and Understanding. It is a colourful blend of narratives and sociology, of young Black kids navigating a Scottish world, of warm embracing diversity and cold unsettling racism, and thus a universal story told in a unique context. I read extracts from the book at the National Black Writers Conference 2021 during the Unlock the Story event.


During event Part 1, I read a combination of extracts from chapters 1, 2 and 3 which you can view here. You, the audience, can then decide if you’d like to get the “key” to unlock Part 2 which is a combination of extracts from chapters 3 and 4 of the book which you can access here by making a donation. Your choice to get the “key”; your choice how much to donate. 

You can read all about the #BWC21 experience in the Write On! Friday Feature ' The Key to Unlocking the Story':

2021 was the year the UK National Black Writers Conference #BWC21 finally made a comeback after being postponed like so many events by the pandemic. The normally biannual conference last took place in 2018 where I was upfront and centre, learning about the writing journeys of fellow authors of colour. Be they giving talks, delivering workshops, fostering panel discussions, or shoulder-to-shoulder in the audience, I quickly became enamoured by my creative counterparts. I, therefore, wanted to learn more about the conference organisers, Manchester-based writing development organisation Commonword Cultureword. True to their tagline, they are providing opportunities for new and aspiring writers to develop their talent, helping to counter so many systemic barriers BAME creatives encounter in the written arts. After participating in some of their initiatives, it somehow seemed quite a coup that I shifted from an audience member to event participant last year in ‘Unlock the Story’…read more.


**Previous events: conferences**



In addition to writing and performing poems and diasporic stories from across the world, I am also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects including my lecture Undoing the Silence: Life-Writing on Race. This will be delivered at this year’s When I Dare to be Powerful Conference 2023 at Nottingham Trent University, Wed 21st June. 


My talk looks at memoir-polemics focusing on racism. Recent examples include journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, journalist/lawyer Afua Hirsch’s ‘Brit(ish): Race, Identity and Belonging’, rapper/social commentator Akala with Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, as well as my upcoming autoethnographical addition Stained Glass Eyes: A Memoir on Race, Family and Multiculturalism. Like these other life-writers, it has been a journey bringing my racist experiences to the fore. It started with xenophobia experienced at school being actively silenced by pupils walking away from conversations about racism; actively silenced by teachers squashing any complaints (mentioned in Akala’s Natives); and passively silenced by family who were going through their own strives with racial abuse and me not wanting to pile onto them. The next stage was university studies and trying to bridge the knowledge gap of racism’s existence and execution brought over from my gagged childhood leaving many questions unanswered. However, whilst higher education was enlightening in some areas, the experience evoked even more questions than it answered (mentioned in Afua Hirsch’s Brit[ish]). 


In my working life, after hearing too many stories of racial bigotry overlapping with my own, I decided to write SGE to expose racism and drive social change towards ethical parity. But self-censorship still tempted my gumption, tentatively changing all ‘controversial’ truth to red font for later omission. My text’s colour coding was apparently pandering to the same white fragility informing my speech’s colour coding from school days. No, these stories encapsulating the plight of Black people should all be in black font, the controversy held within being the audacity of racism, not the audacity of me to voice it (infused in Reni Eddo-Lodge’s title ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’). 

So, like these other life-writers/change-makers on race, watch this space to hear me undo the silence… 

Contact conference organisers Patricia Francis (PGR) for more info on whenidaretobepowerful@gmail.com


In addition to diasporic stories from across the world, I also present at conferences speaking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects including my talk Isolated Words: Black Kidult Poetry Journey. This will be delivered at this year’s Taking the Mic: Black British Spoken Word Poetry since 1965 Conference 2022 at the University of London School of Speech and Drama on Friday 18th November.

My talk focuses on how Black British spoken word poets can inspire children in less multicultural regions to use poetry as a conduit to process racism like Jackie Kay. Growing up in Scotland with the UK’s highest race-related murder rate, my Nigerian family’s life of attempted arsons and stabbings were not conversation for my primary school classmates talking about cartoons, toys and birthday parties. My mode of solitary racial expression became poetry, and being shortlisted for a 1990 anti-apartheid competition with the poem ‘Why?’ validated my soul. With Benjamin Zephaniah’s stimulating visit to Glasgow schools, I continued dealing with race in poetic isolation throughout my secondary school years with ‘The Sound of Freedom’ for South Africa’s first 1994 democratic, elections and ‘Horizon’ exploring realigned identities. My latter secondary school years in Japan produced ‘Going Home’…only for my UK ‘home’ to unceremoniously reject me the moment I returned.



University in England was my first experience dealing with race in community vs isolation. Motivated through local performances by Grace Nichols, I attended the African and Caribbean Society’s poetry evenings. In those creative spoken word spaces, I offered up ‘1st Days Lesson’ about systemic bias in education to surprisingly rapturous applause. Come graduation, I was less confident voicing such themes at work for majority white audiences. But after encouragement from Rodger Robinson and the pandemic creating accessible online Black spaces, I developed cultural-appropriation rebuke ‘Strong Tea’ and continent-hopping celebration ‘Identity: Global Roots’ before performing them at literary festivals and more.

Stirred forward by these dynamic performance poets, these politicised poetic life strands are now entwined with the winding prose of my memoir-polemic ‘Stained Glass Eyes’ exposing my Black kidult journey of nevermore isolated words.

Contact conference convenors: Dr Deirdre Osborne FRSA (Goldsmiths) Dr Emily Kate Timms (University of Vienna) Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE (Principal, Central School of Speech and Drama) or conference assistant: Shannon Navarro (Central School of Speech and Drama) for more info on takingthemic2022@univie.ac.atYou can also follow updates on Twitter: @PoetryOff_Page



Common Threads: Black & Asian British Women's Writing Conference

In addition to diasporic stories from across the world, I am also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects including my lecture Genre Benders: Polemic Memoirs about Race. This will be delivered at this year’s Common Threads: Black & Asian British Women’s Writing Conference 2022 at the University of Brighton, Thurs 21st - Sat 23rd July.


My talk focuses on how the literature and publishing world react when straight-laced auto-ethnography writing meets creative non-fiction prose. This unique genre mesh features in my memoir series ‘Stained Glass Eyes (SGE)’ mixing culture-hopping narratives between Nigeria, Scotland, Japan, etc with factual insights into sociology, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, etc to give essential context to my life journey. This niche genre has already been successfully done by celebrated authors such as journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge with ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’, journalist/lawyer Afua Hirsch with ‘Brit(ish): Race, Identity and Belonging’, and rapper/social commentator Akala with ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’. So why are literary circles not as quick to embrace similar writing styles from debut authors in this area?


Enthusiasm can be seen from initial readers of varied backgrounds ranging from parents of primary school kids celebrating the explicit definitions of racism without ambiguity, to 16-year-olds loving the visual depictions of social spheres to enhance understanding. An eager audience is there for the story/factual content of polemic memoirs about race like SGE, so let’s relax the literary gatekeepers’ cautious approach regarding the ‘who’s and ‘how’s of its genre bending delivery.

Contact conference organisers Professor Suzanne Scafe (Brighton), Dr. Sarah Lawson-Welsh (York St. John), Dr Kadija George (Brighton), Dr Vedrana Velickovic (Brighton) and Amanda Holiday (Brighton) for more info on commonthreads2022@gmail.com



Britain and the World


In addition to diasporic stories from across the world, I am also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences including my lecture The Mental Colonialism Pyramid Scheme: Nigeria-UK. This will be delivered at this year’s Britain and the World Conference 2022 at the University of Plymouth, Wed 15th - Fri 17th June.

My talk focuses on the importance of transnational perspectives with regards to the movement of peoples & ideas within the context of Nigeria before, during and after British colonialism. It juxtaposes historical events with my Yorùbá-Nigerian parents’ lifetimes, examining how the colonial campaign shaped their world view. What did they think of the British who placed themselves at the top of the ‘mental colonialism pyramid scheme’? Subsequently, what did mum & dad either consciously or subconsciously think of themselves and Nigeria in general at the base of the colonial ‘hierarchy’? Did that inform their choice to leave home and embark on Britain? Were they then really surprised at the racial prejudice they experienced here?


Contact conference organisers Martin, Jacob, and Jess for more info.
You can also follow #BATW2022 updates on Twitter and Facebook.




Diversify Education and Communities CIC are holding a Self Care and Empowerment Retreat for Women on Saturday 18th March with a variety of break-out workshops and activities to heighten wellbeing. I will be leading a session on ‘Thriving through Wellness: strategies to transform stress and access your joy’. Here, we will look at 8 sections of a ‘Wellness Wheel’, identity areas that are fulfilled and those which are lacking, reflect on how to improve those areas, then set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) targets to achieve them. Always remember ladies, ‘taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking care of others. The healthier the tree, the better the fruit it can offer.’ 


This event is an extension of Diversify Education and Communities CIC’s mandate: to promote cultural diversity and inclusion in schools, businesses and the community through a range of exciting resources, training workshops as well as support/signposting for those persons affected by racism or discrimination. They also provide hot meals and food parcel distribution to persons in need within the Nottingham city area. Join us as Eastwood Hall Hotel, Mansfield Rd, Eastwood, Nottingham, NG16 3SS. Email admin@diversifyeducation.co.uk for further information.

Previous Interviews

*Scottish Racism: Jambo! radio panel interview
 How can we change the consequences of racism when it is rooted in systems and slavery?

*Scottish Racism: 
Jambo! radio solo interview
  Abiodun Abdul's Scottish Racism Project 





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