Say hello to the Class of 2023
Photo credit: Beth Stover
Her poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Poetry Wales, The White Review, Stand Magazine, Poetry Review, Bath Magg and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. Her work has been anthologised by Anamot Press, Bridport Prize, Re.creation, Peekash Press, Bad Betty Press and Flipped Eye Press. She is an alumna of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme, Malika's Poetry Kitchen, Barbican Young Poets, Obsidian Foundation Retreat, Griots Well Collective and Roundhouse Poetry Collective.
She has performed at Glastonbury Festival, Brainchild Festival and UKYA City Takeover. Commissioned by the Museum of London, Guildhall, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, The African Centre, BBC 1Xtra and Spread the Word.
Photo credit: Deepthi Muralibabu
His poetry films and docu-poetry have made official selections at international film festivals such as the African International film festival held in Nigeria, Zebra Poetry Festival, in Germany, Festival del Cinema di Cefalù, Italy, the Panama series festival and most recently Silicon Valley African Film festival in San Jose California.
David has also graced platforms such as the Lagos International Poetry Festival, Performed at the Oceanside Theatre San Diego in the USA (virtual), the Green Economy and Environmental Summit at the Nigerian Climate Innovation Center, and the commissioning of the African Quality Assurance Centre amongst others.
A 2023 Alumni of Obsidian Foundation Poetry Retreat, He has been a top ten entrant of the Nigerian students' poetry prize in 2016, a recipient of the Ekonke African Storytellers prize in 2020, a contributor to the West-Africa to West Oakland poetry exchange in 2021, 1st runner-up GoNigeria Poetry Challenge in 2022 and amongst others, emerged Winner of the Lacasera National Poetry slam competition - Spoken Wars, 2022.
He is currently the community manager of TrueMyVoice, a literary community of over 500 storytellers (poets) across Nigeria, where he helps groom them in applying their art, as a tool for advocacy and social change.
He was named one of the '20 best writers under 40' in Leeds for the LS13 Awards and his chapbook Precocious was a reader nomination for the Guardian First Book Prize. He was a finalist for the Venture Poetry Awards, Eric Hoffer Award and Lambda Literary Awards, and was selected as one of 10 advanced poets for The Complete Works II programme, where he was mentored by Next Generation poet Patience Agbabi.
The Complete Works was managed by Nathalie Teitler and founded by Bernardine Evaristo. His first full length poetry collection Patterflash (Peepal Tree Press, 2023) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Summer 2023. The book was completed as a result of Obsidian. He is currently studying for a PhD in poetry at the University of Manchester.
Photo credit: Drew Wilby
Photo credit: Hakeem Angulu
Photo credit: Cokes Media
He was a finalist of BBC Words First in 2020 and is a multi-UniSlam finalist as a performer and coach, winning the UniSlam Coach’s Slam in 2023.
He has performed his poetry on BBC Radio and iPlayer and has also featured in various creative arts festivals throughout London and the Midlands, including Festival2Funky in Leicester, the Camden Inspire Festival, and the Roundhouse Last Word Festival.
His poetry appears in Ink Sweat & Tears, Zindabad Zine and Under the Radar by Nine Arches Press.
Photo credit: Nneka Otigbah
Photo credit: Feruza Afewerki
West Indies, Jamaica. He is a past winner of the Peepal Tree Press Prize (2019), the
Mervyn Morris Prize (2020), and The Editors' Prize for Magma Poetry (2022/23). He was shortlisted for the Frontier OPEN Prize 2022, and long-listed for the National
Poetry Competition (2022) held by the Poetry Society. Russell was a featured poet for the British Council's project, Unwritten Poems: Exploring Caribbean Engagement in WW1." His work has been published in Yolk Literary Magazine, PREE magazine
Frontier Poetry, The London Magazine, Magma and elsewhere. He curently lives in
Brampton, Ontario, where he teaches English for Educate Academy. Some of his
favourite poets include Derek Walcott, Loma Goodison, Ocean Vuong, Jane
Hirshfield, and Roger Reeves.
Safiya is an Obsidian Foundation alumni and an Apples & Snakes/ Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance recipient. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals including Poetry London, Poetry Review and The Caribbean Writer. Her debut poetry collection Cane, Corn & Gully (Out-Spoken Press) arrived in November 2022. Cane, Corn & Gully was been shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize and won Barbados’ Gine On People’s Choice Book of The Year Award.
Keith was selected for the International Literary Showcase as one of 10 outstanding LGBT writers in the UK. He has judged the Polari Prize, the Foyle Young Poets Award, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Keith is completing his first novel and teaches at Birkbeck University in London, where he completed his PhD studentship in 2020.
Photo credit: Andre Howard
In 2022, Ioney was the New Art Exchange resident artist where she developed her project, Jamaica and Her Daughters a collection of poetry and prose. Her short story, First Flight, appears in the first Black British speculative fiction anthology, Glimpse, 2022, Peepal Tree Press. Ioney was selected to contribute to Joseph Coelho x Ottar Barry Books x Apples and Snakes children’s poetry anthology to be published 2024. In 2023 she was a member of MiddleWay Mentoring project to develop her short story collection, mentored by Leone Ross.
Ioney is a part time English teacher in FE, and co- lead facilitator for poetry Gobs Poetry Collective.
Photo credit: Mario Saragò
Amanda’s art practice includes costume design and performance. She is the creator of the Dolly Ma and Dolly Ma Brigita Baby Doll masquerades. She is credited with introducing the terms “Contemporary Baby Doll Masquerade” and “Contemporary Caribbean Baby Doll Masquerade” to Carnival Arts scholarship following the publication of her essays documenting the development of the Baby Doll Masquerade in the Caribbean from 2010 onwards. Amanda’s art practice involves feminist, queer and diasporic narratives, advocating for marginalized populations in the Caribbean.
She was the founding curator of Poetica, at Open Book Festival. She has an MA Writer/Teacher (with Distinction) from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was a 2014/2015 Chevening Scholar.
Her work centres on Black creole and Christian faith, Black womanhood, liberation, and resistance. A former neo-soul vocalist, Danaé has featured on records with Crooked Man, Tuesday Born, Mic Righteous, and Franz Von and has shared stages with Linton Kwesi-Johnson, Public Enemy, Warda Yassin, Otis Mensah, and Moor Mother. She has recently released her debut LP Good Fruit produced by Maurice Fulton and produced her first documentary-film ‘Passing the Baton: The Legacy of the Windrush Pioneers’ which documents the impact of the Windrush Generation on Sheffield’s cultural landscape.
Photo credit: Hiro Reneau
Written in Ga and English, her first children’s storybook, 'Aku the Sun Maker', has Luganda, Kiswahili, French and other translations. 'Rain Again' and her other short plays have been featured by Accra Theatre Workshop and others; 'Drumbeat' is her first major staged play. More of her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in anthologies by Writers Project of Ghana and the then Caine Prize for African Writing; Saraba Magazine and Kalahari Review; University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Prairie Schooner; Phillis Wheatley Chapter; Illinois State University’s Obsidian; Black Lawrence Press and others.
While expecting an MPhil in English and about starting a doctorate, she continues to work on her first short story and poetry collections. Aisha’s creative and academic interests sometimes explore the intersection(s) and silence(s) between literary and visual art forms, and the question(s) that these raise about meaning, identity, reality – the existential.
When she is not writing, or waiting on something, or minding the other lives she signed up for, Aisha reflects on her ancestry, or happily lo(o)es herself in music, or slips into daydreams.
She conducts workshops, shares art, lectures, and finds alternative ways to tell stories, build community and exchange ideas.
She regularly contributes to BBC 2’s Pause for Thought, she is a community artist-researcher, with IBT a mental health development worker and an alumni associate artist with The English Touring Theatre where she is working on her first play. Muneera first full poetry collection will be released late 2021 with Burning Eye books. As a freelance writer, Muneera has written for The Guardian, Amaliah, Huffington Post, The Independent, Al Jazeera Blog, Black Ballard and various other digital and print platforms. She has been featured across the BBC network including BBC News, as well as Sky News, Sky Arts, Al Jazeera, and various other television channels. In 2015 a documentary about her former group Poetic Pilgrimage was commissioned by Al Jazeera, “Hip-Hop Hijabis” has been screened several times since.
Muneera holds an MA in Islamic studies where she focused on Black British pathways to spirituality, migration, gender and race. She holds a second MA in Women’s Studies, where she focused on the intersection of faith and spirituality, race, gender, autoethnography and methodologies of empowerment for non-centred people. Her innovation in her work won her The Ann Kaloski-Naylor Award for Adventurous Academic Writing.
Warda has been commissioned as a poet and delivered poetry workshops. She is currently running the Mixing Roots project for young people of colour with Hive South Yorkshire. She has performed at various festivals and open mic nights including Ilkley Festival, Off the Shelf Festival of Words and Verse Matters, and has read with talents such as Hollie McNish, Jean Binta Breeze and Kayo Chingonyi.
curator and facilitator of Jamaican heritage who enjoys swimming in open water, tending to what
grows and plant-based cooking/nurturing/futuring.
Lateisha inhabits embodied tools for connection, intimacy and transformation – creatively
accessing tools and healing pathways we need to live, love, and thrive through and beyond trauma,
marginalisation and oppression.
Their work flows across intersections of race, gender, queerness, class, earth-climate and
(dis)placement/diaspora, rooted in prophetic wisdoms of Black, Indigenous and POC queer
feminist ecologies. Working intergenerationally and interdimensionally through social-
engagement over the last 15 years.
We are publishing A.J.’s debut poetry collection, Unmothered, in July 2023
Her poem Bite was read at The Solstice Shorts Festival 2016: Shortest Day and is in the Shortest Day, Longest Night Anthology.
The best way to describe her would be as an artvist and an artvocate, her work constantly revolves around using art as a tool to inspire social change in Nigeria and the global space.
At the moment she is a Published writer in the ‘front runners’ and ‘daughters global leadership mentoring’ poetry booklet gift to the United Nations, and in an anthology “bloom” She is also an alumni of unicef and voices of youth poetry mediathon group.
She is an acting parliamentarian in the empowering women for excellence initiative.
She is a winner of the British councils new narratives challenge.
She has had the opportunity to be trained in a VOICE artvocacy bootcamp, lending her voice through drama and poetry to address the ills in our society.
She has served as Script writer and voice over on radio show highlighting the problems of the youth in Nigeria ‘OMO’.
And a screenplay writer in a mental health project sponsored by the US government, ALAAFIA.
She is an acting ambassador for “Their world organization”
She practices volunteerism on a daily, lending her art, time and services to several NGO’s in Nigeria.
And. believes in using creativity to address social issues and inspire new narratives.
Her dedication to shedding light on important issues led Calissa to write and direct a documentary called 'Young and Addicted' that explored the impact of drugs on the young members of her local community, which premiered at a cinema in London.
Continuing her exploration of the human psyche and imagination, Calissa wrote an original psychological, fantasy, short screenplay called ‘Adam's Lost.’
Fuelled by her passion for storytelling, Calissa pursued higher education, culminating in the attainment of a Master of Arts in Screenwriting for Film and Television.
Later receiving the Scriptopolooza Screenplay Quarterfinals Award for her feature-length animated, fantasy, adventure screenplay ‘The Hairy Hunchback Monster.’
In the year 2023, Calissa was awarded as a fellow of the Obsidian Writer’s Retreat, during the same year, she was placed as a Semi-Finalist in the Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards (Diversity Initiative).