Our Bodies Speak Poetry: Meet the Poets

Our Bodies Speak Poetry, our first headline event, is set to be an exciting evening filled with awe-inspiring storytelling, and a poetical exploration into our relationship with the (physical, political, and fantastical) body.

The evening will open with a dance piece by Adesola Akinleye, accompanied by music curated by BORN::FREE, one of London’s leading platforms for African and Afro-Diasporic poetry and writing. Our MC, Jessica Horn, will share some of her own work, engaging in conversation with us, and the poets, discussing themes surrounding poetry and the body.

You won’t be surprised to hear that we have a fantastic set of writers, poets, playwrights and musicians whose works focus on the body as sites of power and resistance. We hope the night will spark some interesting discussion around what the body is, what it means, and how conceptions of it have evolved over time.

The event will also include BSL interpreters.

Join us on Friday 5th July, 19:00 – 21:00, at the British Library.




Photo Credit: Tenee Attoh



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.






Photo Credit: Foteini Christofilopoulou



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.





Photo Credit: Aiden Harmitt-Williams



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.






Photo Credit: Darien Charles



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.

When you are a minority in a minority in a minority, you have no choice but to stand out.”  – Miss Jacqui.




Photo Credit: Amos Ruiz



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.






Photo Credit: Sam Burnett



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.





Photo Credit: Andy Mkosie



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.






Photo Credit: Rosalind Raddatz



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).






Photo Credit: Theo Ndlovu



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).






Photo Credit: Mikaela Westerholm



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.







Join us on Friday 5 July 2019 at the British Library for an amazing evening of poetry!

Make sure to get your tickets.