Our Bodies Speak Poetry

Our Bodies Speak Poetry (BSL Interpreted)
Friday 5 July, 19:00 – 21:00
£12 / £8 / £7.20 for RAS Members

An evening of intergenerational poetry and story-telling exploring the body as a site of power, possibilities and resistance. 

What does the body mean to you? Who draws the boundaries of what the body is or what it could potentially be? Join us for an evening of poetry and story-telling exploring the relationship we have with our bodies (poetical, physical, political, fantastical) and the shifting perceptions across generations.

With Raymond Antrobus, Adesola Akinleye, Caleb Femi, Jessica Horn, Miss Jacqui, Fatimah Kelleher, Nick Makoha, Sitawa Namwalie, Koleka Putuma and Belinda Zhawi. Music curated by BORN::FREE.

This event will be BSL interpreted.

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Meet the Artists:

Raymond Antrobus is a British-Jamaican poet. He is the author of ‘To Sweeten Bitter’ and ‘The Perseverance’ which recently won The Ted Hughes award 2018. He is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Complete Works 3, Jerwood Compton Poetry. He has an MA in Spoken Word education from Goldsmiths University. In 2018 he was awarded ‘The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize’ judged by Ocean Vuong.


Dr. Adesola Akinleye is a choreographer, performer, writer, teachers and speaker. She began her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem (USA) later working in UK Companies such as Green Candle. Her work is characterized by an interest in glimpsing and voicing peoples lived experiences through creative moving portraiture. Founder and Director of DancingStrong and triip (turning research ideas into practice), a key aspect of her process is the artistry of opening creative practices to everyone from ballerinas to women in low wage employment to performance for young audiences.


Caleb Femi is a poet and director featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. Using film, photography and music Caleb pushes the boundaries of poetry both on the page, in performance and on digital mediums. Between 2016-2018, Caleb was the Young People’s Laureate for London working with young people on a city, national and global level.


Miss Jacqui is a spoken word artist and songwriter who was thrust into the spotlight after a performance at the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony. Also a wheelchair user, her music gives listeners a glimpse into what it means means to be black woman with a disability on a quest to be free from the perception of others. Having spend over 10 years in the poetry circuit under the mentorship of poetry legend Kat Francois, Jacqui wants her music to help her listeners see the world differently. Her upcoming debut EP “Perception” is a bold step in establishing herself and her disabled activism within walls of the music industry.


Fatimah Kelleher is a Nigerian/Irish-British women’s rights adviser, and a writer/scribbler of verse. Engaged in feminist economic advocacy and research, she also writes on literature, and education. Her work is published by UNESCO, Feminist Africa, the Guardian, openDemocracy, and Wasafiri, among others. As a poet, Fatimah was founder of Urban Griots in 1997 and has performed globally.Her verse is found in anthologies/magazines including Sable Litmag.


Nick Makoha’s debut collection Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Best First Collection. The Guardian named it one of the best books of 2017.  The 2019 Writer-in-Residence for The Wordsworth Trust and Wasafiri. Winner of The Brunel Poetry Prize and Toi Derricotte-Cornelius Eady Prize for Resurrection Man. His poems appeared in Poetry Review, New York Times, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri.


Koleka Putuma is a poet and theatre practitioner who has taken the South African literary scene by storm with her debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia. Since its publication in 2017, the book is in its 9th print run and has been prescribed for study at tertiary level in South African Universities and Gothenburg University in Sweden. She is a 2018 Forbes Africa Under 30 Honoree and recipient of the 2018 Imbewu Trust Scribe Playwriting Award.


Sitawa Namwalie is an award winning Kenyan poet, playwright and performer known for her unique dramatized poetry performances which combine poetry and traditional Kenyan music to create a feast for the senses. “Cut off My Tongue,” her first performance was performed at the Hay Festival 2009. Sitawa has written poetry performances and plays including, “Homecoming” (2011), “Silence is a Woman”, (2014), “Room of Lost Names” (2015).


Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer, sound artist & educator currently based in London. Her work explores Afro-diasporic research & narratives; how art & education can be used as intersectional tools. She was the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet, is the 2019 Serpentine Gallery Schools Artist-in-Residence & co-founder of literary arts platform, BORN::FREE. Belinda is the author of Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018).


Jessica Horn is an African feminist writer, doer, interpreter of the ordinary. Jessica has worked for two decades to shape liberatory policy and practice around bodies, movements, funding and feminist futures in Africa and globally. Jessica’s poetry pamphlet Speaking in Tongues is included in the Mouthmark Book of Poetry. She is winner of the Fanny Ann Eddy Prize and the Sojourner Poetry Prize judged by June Jordan, and hosts The Love Mic.



Image: Koleka Putuma, photo by Andy Mkosi