Meet Octavia Poetry Collective

Meet Octavia, the poetry collective for womxn of colour, founded by Rachel Long. Octavia was born in response to the lack of representation and inclusivity in literature and academia. Since 2015, Octavia have come together to read beyond the canon and write themselves, currently housed at the Southbank Centre in London. They’ve been widely featured on BBC World Service, The Guardian, ASOS, Hotdog Magazine, and have run poetry and creative-educational workshops for University of Oxford and the Serpentine Galleries.

Octavia are: Amaal Said, Amina Jama, Anita Barton-Williams, Anjali Barot, Ankita Saxena, Belinda Zhawi, Hibaq Osman, Josette Joseph, Momtaza Mehri, Raheela Suleman, Rhondda Rhiannon, Rachel Long, Sarah Lasoye, Sunayana Bhargava, Tania Nwachukwu, Theresa Lola, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Virginia Joseph & Zahrah Sheikh.

Meet the members of Octavia who will be performing at Octavia Poetry Collective presents: Africa Writes Party 2018 The Year of the Womxn:

Photo credit: Keziah Who

Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a poet, writer and filmmaker. An alumna of the Barbican Young Poets, her work has featured in The Poetry Review, Ambit and, in addition to being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. She was shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2016, and has held residencies internationally in the US and Brazil, alongside London’s V&A Museum. Her debut pamphlet, Girl B, is part of the 2017 New-Generation African Poets series. Victoria is the director of MOTHER TONGUES, an intergenerational poetry, film and translation project supported by Arts Council England and Autograph ABP.


Photo credit: Myah Jeffers

Amina Jama is a Somali-British writer. She was the Roundhouse & BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Words First London finalist, alumni of Barbican Young Poets, co-host of BoxedIN at Boxpark, Shoreditch, and Assistant Tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her work explores displacement, dual cultural identity and family. She has been published in The Things I Would Tell You, a Saqi Books anthology, and Rising Stars children’s anthology by Otter-Barry Books. She has been commissioned by the BBC, The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace, and the London Mayor’s Office.


Photo credit: Graham Lacdao

Sarah Lasoye is a British-born Nigerian poet and writer based in London. An alumni of the Barbican Young Poets programme, she’s performed at venues from the Southbank Centre and TATE. Her work has been commissioned by St. Paul’s Cathedral, in addition to being featured on BBC Radio 4. Sarah also writes for gal-dem, an online magazine written by women of colour.


Photo credit: Michelle

Theresa Lola is a Nigerian British poet born in 1994.  She was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2017, and won the Hammer and Tongue National Poetry Slam in 2017. In 2018 was one of three awarded the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Theresa is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets programme. She was awarded an Arts Council/British Council International Development Grant to run poetry workshops at the Lagos International Poetry Festival in Nigeria in 2017. Theresa is part of SXWKS creative collective and Octavia Women of Colour collective which is resident at the Southbank Centre in London. She is currently working on her debut full length poetry collection.


Photo credit: Lee Townsend

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and essayist. Born in 1994, her work has been featured in DAZED, Buzzfeed, Vogue, BBC Radio 4, Poetry Society of America, Mask Magazine and Poetry Review. She is a Complete Works Fellow, winner of the 2017 Outspoken Page Poetry Prize and she took third prize in the National Poetry Competition 2017. Her chapbook sugah lump prayer was published by Akashic books/ African Poetry Book Fund in 2017. She also edits Diaspora Drama, a digital platform showcasing international immigrant art. She was awarded the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and became the Young People’s Laureate of London in 2018.


Photo credit: Hark1Karan

Hibaq Osman is a Somali writer born and based in London. Her work centres women, identity and the healing process. Her focus is on the hidden aspects of life and how we can bring the unspoken to the forefront of our minds and mouths. Her debut poetry collection A Silence You Can Carry was published with Out-Spoken Press in 2015. As a member of OCTAVIA – a fantastic group of women of colour poets – Hibaq works towards a future where funding and access to the arts for Black people across the board is the norm and not an exception.


Photo credit: Theo Ndlovu

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer, educator. Belinda was a 2015/16 London Laureate (shortlistee for Young People’s Laureate for London) & the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet.  She’s co-founder & host of the bi-monthly poetry social, BORN::FREE. She’s currently based in London, working on her debut pamphlet forthcoming in 2018 on ignitionpress.


Photo credit: Amaal Said

Rachel Long is founder of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, which is housed at Southbank Centre, London. She is Assistant Tutor to Jacob Sam La-Rose on the Barbican Young Poets programme 2015-present.

Grab your tickets for:

Octavia Poetry Collective presents: Africa Writes Party 2018: The Year of the Womxn
Saturday 30 June, 8pm at Rich Mix!


Join the Facebook event


Original artwork by Olivia Twist