#BlackMetics

 

Creativeworks London Festival

Celebrating four years of exploring the capital's creative economy, bringing London's researchers, creative entrepreneurs and businesses together.

 
 

Greg Pardlo

 

Anthony Joseph

Music Man

 

Elizabeth Alexander

Presidential Poet

 

Terrance Hayes

 

Chris Abani

Wizard

 

Kayo Chingonyi

Track

 

Malika Booker

Origin

 

Nate Marshall

Dope

 
 

Danez Smith

Superman

Anthony Joseph

Metic

Anthony Joseph, Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow 2019-20. Supported by Jerwood Arts and Arts Council England. Image: Mirren Kessling.

Anthony Joseph is a Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician who has been referred to as ‘the leader of the black avant garde in Britain.’ As a musician and spoken word artist he has released seven critically acclaimed albums which blend Afro-Caribbean music, free jazz and funk. The most recent, People of the Sun (Heavenly Sweetness) was recorded in Trinidad and released in 2018. In the same year he curated ‘Windrush: A Celebration’, a series of five events which celebrated the literary and musical legacies of the Windrush generation, culminating in a gala concert at the Barbican as part of the London Jazz Festival.

Anthony is the author of four poetry collections: Desafinado, Teragaton, Bird Head Son and Rubber Orchestras, and made his fiction debut with The African Origins of UFOs. In 2012 he represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Poetry Parnassus Festival on London's South Bank. He performs internationally as the lead vocalist for his band The Spasm Band. He lives in London.
Anthony lectures in creative writing at Birkbeck College and holds a PhD in Creative and Life writing from Goldsmiths College, which culminated in Kitch.
His most recent novel, Kitch, a biography of calypso icon Lord Kitchener has been shortlisted for The 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize, the OCM Bocas Fiction Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award. In 2019 he was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship

Malika Booker

Metic

Malika Booker is an award-winning poet, theatre-maker and multi-disciplinary artists, and an experienced writing competition judge. She is the founder of the Malika's Poetry Kitchen writers’ community initiative. In 2019 she was commissioned to write and perform a poem about Mars for a BBC Science series about the solar system and was awarded a prestigious Society of Authors Cholmondley Award for her contribution to poetry. She joined Manchester Metropolitan University as Lecturer in Creative Writing in January 2019 and is Chair of Judges for the international Manchester Poetry Prize.

Malika Booker is a British poet of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage and the founder of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. Her collection Pepper Seed, (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas 2014 poetry prize, and the Seamus Heaney Centre 2014 prize for first full collection. She received her MA from Goldsmiths University and was recently awarded the Cultural Fellowship in Creative Writing/ Literary Art post at Leeds University. Malika was the first British poet to be a fellow at Cave Canem and the inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has represented British writing internationally, both independently and with the British Council.

Malika has also written for the stage and radio, and poems are widely published in anthologies and journals including: Out of Bounds, Black & Asian Poets (Bloodaxe 2012); Ten New Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010); The India International Journal 2005; and Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry (The Women’s Press, 1998).

Kei Miller

Metic

Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978 and has written several books across a range of genres. His 2014 collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection while his 2017 Novel, Augustown, won the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Prix Les Afriques, and the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde. He is also an award-winning essayist. In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature and in 2018 he was awarded the Anthony Sabga medal for Arts & Letters. Kei has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. He has taught at the Universities of Glasgow, Royal Holloway and Exeter. He is the 2019 Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor to the University of Iowa and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Kayo Chingonyi

Metic

Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and the author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus and went on to win the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. Kayo has been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally. He was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and has completed residencies with Kingston University, Cove Park, First Story, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Royal Holloway University of London in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. He was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016, Anthony Burgess Fellow at Manchester University in 2018, and co-edited issue 62 of Magma Poetry and the Autumn 2016 edition of The Poetry Review. He is now poetry editor for The White Review. Kayo is also an emcee, producer, and DJ and regularly collaborates with musicians and composers both as a poet and a lyricist.

Elizabeth Alexander

Metic

Elizabeth Alexander was born on May 30, 1962, in Harlem, New York, and grew up in Washington, D.C. She received a BA from Yale University, an MA from Boston University (where she studied with Derek Walcott), and a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her collections of poetry include Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010(Graywolf Press, 2010); American Sublime (Graywolf Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Antebellum Dream Book (Graywolf Press, 2001); Body of Life (Tia Chucha Press, 1996); and The Venus Hottentot (University Press of Virginia, 1990).

Her memoir, The Light of the World (Grand Central Publishing, 2015), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Alexander's critical work appears in her essay collection, The Black Interior (Graywolf Press, 2004). She also edited The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (Graywolf Press, 2005) and Love’s Instruments: Poems by Melvin Dixon (University of Michigan Press, 1995). Her poems, short stories, and critical writing have been widely published in such journals and periodicals as The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, The Village Voice, The Women's Review of Books, and The Washington Post. Her work has been anthologized in over twenty collections, and in May of 1996, her verse play, Diva Studies, premiered at the Yale School of Drama.

About Alexander's poetry, Rita Dove writes that "the poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh," and Clarence Major notes Alexander's "instinct for turning her profound cultural vision into one that illuminates universal experience."

In 2007, Alexander was selected by Lucille Clifton, Stephen Dunn, and Jane Hirshfield to receive the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. Her other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago, and the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks.

In 2009, she recited “Praise Song for the Day,” which she composed for the occasion, at President Barack Obama's first Presidential Inauguration.

She has taught at Haverford College, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Smith College, where she was Grace Hazard Conkling Poet-in-Residence, the first director of the Poetry Center at Smith College, and a member of the founding editorial collective for the feminist journal Meridians. She has served as a faculty member for Cave Canem Poetry Workshops, and has traveled extensively within the United States and abroad, giving poetry readings and lecturing on African American literature and culture.
In 2015, Alexander was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. She previously served as the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies and inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, and the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She is the current President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and lives in New York City.

Greg Pardlo

Metic

Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Digest was also shortlisted for the 2015 NAACP Image Award and is a current finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem received the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo's poems appear in The Nation, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. Pardlo lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Nate Marshall

Metic

Nate Marshall is an award-winning author, editor, poet, playwright, performer, educator, speaker, and rapper. His book, Wild Hundreds, was honored with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s award for Poetry Book of the Year and The Great Lakes College Association’s New Writer Award. He is also an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and he also co-curates The BreakBeat Poets series for Haymarket Books. Marshall co-wrote the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks with Eve Ewing, produced by Manual Cinema and commissioned by the Poetry Foundation. He also wrote the audio drama Bruh Rabbit & The Fantastic Telling of Remington Ellis, Esq., which was produced by Make-Believe Association. His last rap album, Grown came out in 2015 with his group Daily Lyrical Product. His next book, FINNA, is due out in 2020 from One World/Random House.

Marshall is an experienced and versatile educator, working with learners of all ages in both academic and community settings. He co-wrote Chicago Public School's first literary arts curriculum and develops lesson plans using creative writing to help participants discuss social justice, mental health, community development, and other topics pertinent to social science. He is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College. He previously served as the Assistant Director of Wabash College’s Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies and the Director of National Programs at Young Chicago Authors. Marshall has taught in a number of traditional and community-based settings including Wabash College, Young Chicago Authors, Northwestern University, InsideOut Literary Arts, and the University of Michigan.

Nate is a member of The Dark Noise Collective and co-directs (with Eve Ewing) Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events and educational resources as a form of cultural organizing. As a young person Nate won the Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival in Chicago and was a finalist at Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam.

Nate was born at Roseland Community Hospital and raised in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. He is a proud Chicago Public Schools alumnus. Nate completed his MFA in Creative Writing at The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers' Program. He holds a B.A. in English and African American Diaspora Studies from Vanderbilt University. Marshall has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Poetry Foundation, and The University of Michigan. Nate loves his family and friends, Black people, dope art, literature, history, arguing about top 5 lists, and beating you in spades.

Rita Dove

Metic

U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove is the third African American—and the youngest poet ever—to hold the post of distinction in her field at the U.S. Library of Congress. From 1937 to 1985, the position was called consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress; in 1986, the name of the consultancy was changed to that of poet laureate. Preceded in the position by black poets Robert Hayden (1976-78) and Gwendolyn Brooks (1985), Dove has infused her role with an unprecedented measure of freshness, resolve, and vitality: she is committed to bringing poetry to the masses throughout the nation. “I think people should be shaken up a bit when they walk through life,” she commented in Time. “They should stop for a moment and really look at ordinary things and catch their breath.…When a poem moves you, it moves you in a way that leaves you speechless.”

Dove is generally held to be one of America’s best contemporary verse writers and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1987. Celebrated for sensitively revealing personal epiphanies and black American collective experiences, she has published several critically acclaimed books of verse since her late twenties, beginning with her first volume, The Yellow House on the Comer (1980), followed by Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), and Grace Notes (1989). Her work has also appeared in chapbooks, magazines, and anthologies. A collection of selected poems from her first three books was published late in 1993, while a verse-drama is scheduled to come out in 1994.

In keeping with her interest in African American history, poems in the third part of The Yellow House on the Corner are written from the vantage point of American slaves. In the 1986 volume Thomas and Beulah, the black experience from the early 1900s on is revealed through the lives of Dove’s maternal grandparents. Though Dove often writes about herself, her family, and black history in America, her works reflect a broad social awareness and deal with a variety of subjects. While she acknowledges her role as an African American poet, she does not like being restricted to that role. Her poems, she has said, are about people, and sometimes these people are black. However, she told the Washington Post, “I cannot run from, I won’t run from any kind of truth.”

Dove has handled fiction successfully as well, receiving praise for her collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), and novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992). Both of these works established her versatility as a writer. Aside from writing for publication, Dove has taught creative writing for many years

Danez Smith

Metic

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Homie” (Graywolf Press, 2020), "Don’t Call Us Dead" (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and "[insert] boy" (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez's work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

Terrance Hayes

Metic

Terrance Hayes is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1971, and educated at Coker College where he studied painting and English and was an Academic All-American on the men’s basketball team. After receiving his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997, he taught in southern Japan, Columbus, Ohio, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Hayes taught at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh before becoming a Professor of English at New York University.

Hayes served as the 2017-2018 poetry editor for New York Times Magazine. He was guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2014 (Scribner, 2014), the preeminent annual anthology of contemporary American poetry. His poems have appeared in ten editions of the series.

His first book, Muscular Music, won a Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His second book, Hip Logic (Penguin 2002), was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for both the Los Angeles Time Book Award and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Wind In a Box (Penguin 2006), a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award finalist, was named one of the best books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly. How to Be Drawn received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry. Lighthead, was winner of the 2010 National Book Award.

His sixth poetry collection, American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin (Penguin, 2018), was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the TS Eliot Prize, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Literary Prize for Fiction & Poetry, the LA Times Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award.

His essay collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism.

Nick Makoha

Metic

The Founder of Obsidian Nick Makoha is a Ugandan poet and playwright and based in London. His debut Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize and nominated by The Guardian as one of the best books of 2017. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and Complete Works Alumni. He won the 2015 Brunel prize and 2016 Derricotte & Eady Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. He was the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for The Wordsworth Trust and Wasafiri.

His play The Dark was directed by JMK award-winner Roy Alexander and shortlisted for the 2019 Alfred Fagon Award. He was one of the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize Judges looking for the best new poetry collection written in English and published in 2019 (This was the first time that a Black British poet; Roger Robinson has won the prize in its 26-year history). He was a judge for Young Poet Laureate for London for 5 years and mentored four young laureates Caleb Femi, Selina Nwulu, Aisling Fahey and Warsan Shire. He has guest lectured at the universities of Suffolk, Greenwich, Goldsmiths and Roehampton. He has been involved in TV marketing campaigns for Voices Nationwide: Celebrating Fatherhood and the Gillette, Being A Man digital campaign for The Southbank Centre. His poems appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri.

He has an MA in creative writing from Goldsmiths University where he was Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence. working to create an in depth online digital archive of the Metic experiences of Black British Writers. The term ‘Metic’, first used by T S Eliot, translates as foreigners or resident aliens whose allegiances are split between their homeland and their new country. Makoha is exploring how the metic experience of Black poets can develop our writing and career in a hope to de-homogenize the Black Metic experience.

Carol Rumens’s best poetry books of 2017 Nick Makoha’s first full-length collection, Kingdom of Gravity (Peepal Tree £8.99), was the 2017 debut which most excited me. Focused on Uganda during the Idi Amin dictatorship, his poetry is charged with ethical sensibility. The lines protest as they sing “the song disturbed by helicopter blades…” but they don’t simplify things: they explore, and complicate. Personal witness and artistry are one. - Carol Rumens - The Guardian

Chris Abani

Metic

Chris Abani is an acclaimed novelist and poet. His most recent books are The Secret History of Las Vegas, The Face: A Memoir and Sanctificum. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Hemingway Award, An Edgar Prize, A Ford USA Artists Fellowship, the PEN Beyond the Margins Award, a Prince Claus Award, the Hurston Wright Legacy Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, among many honors. Born in Nigeria, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Board of Trustees Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago. More at http://www.chrisabani.com

hris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He has resided in the United States since 2001.

He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.

His fiction includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night *(Akashic, 2007), *The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board(Delta, 1985).

His poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems *(Peepal Tree Press, 2010) *Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne’s Lot (Red Hen, 2003) and *Kalakuta Republic *(Saqi, 2001).

His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian and Serbian.

Through his TED Talks, public speaking and essays Abani is known as an international voice on humanitarianism, art, ethics, and our shared political responsibility. His critical and personal essays have been featured in books on art and photography, as well as Witness, Parkett, The New York Times, O Magazine, and Bomb.

His many research interests include African Poetics, World Literature, 20th Century Anglophone Literature, African Presences in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, The Living Architecture of Cities, West African Music, Postcolonial and Transnational Theory, Robotics and Consciousness, Yoruba and Igbo Philosophy and Religion.

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