Poets and Storytellers
Add Your Heading Text Here
Jan Blake is one of Europe’s leading storytellers who has been performing world-wide since 1986.
Specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Arabia, she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. Recent highlights include Hay Festival, where she was storyteller in-residence, the Viljandi Harvest Festival in Estonia and TEDx Warsaw.
She has performed at all major storytelling festivals, leads storytelling workshops for schools and universities and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio programmes. Her own storytelling company and school is the Akua Storytelling Project.
In 2011, she was the recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling. As part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, she was the curator for Shakespeare’s Stories, a landmark exhibition that explored themes of journey and identity, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
In 2013, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba toured to acclaim winning a British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).
Anthony Joseph is an award winning Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician. He is the author of four poetry collections and three novels. His 2018 novel Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, and long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. His most recent publication is the experimental novel The Frequency of Magic. In 2019, he was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. In 2020 a Polish translation of his afrofuturist classicThe African Origins of UFOs was published, followed by
THE REPEAT BEAT POET
The Repeat Beat Poet is Peter deGraft-Johnson (PJ), a Hip Hop Poet and broadcaster fusing traditional poetics and Hip Hop culture to capture and extend moments of time, thought, and feeling. PJ has performed across the UK and internationally at venues including the Southbank Centre and Ronnie Scotts in London, performing alongside writers like Margaret Atwood, Salena Godden (FRSA), and Roger Robinson. He co-founded the Hip Hop open mic night Pen-Ting, is an emcee with Hip Hop label and jam night Imaginary Millions, and created the Spoken Word radio show #TheRepeatBeatBroadcast and is the host of multi-award nominated Lunar Poetry Podcast, which is archived in the British Library.
Peter has been nominated for a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship, selected by BBC 1Xtra and the Roundhouse for their Poetry Collective programmes, and is an Obsidian Foundation fellow. His work has been published by Magma Poetry, Bad Betty Press, and Poetry On The Picket Line, his debut single This That was released in 2020 to rave reviews, and in 2021 he was awarded a residency at the Library of Africa & The African Diaspora in Ghana.
SAFIYA KAMRIA KINSHASA
Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British born Barbadian raised poet of Jamaican and Barbadian descent. Using her background in dance and cultural studies, her poetry chiefly encompasses dance on the page and stage. Her brave and exciting work has been commended by notable literary figures including Roger Robinson and Joelle Taylor. Her forthcoming first poetry collection will be released with Out-Spoken Press in 2021.
Safiya is a recipient of the inaugural Jerwood Arts | Apples & Snakes Poetry in Performance Programme. She was awarded the 2020 New Voice in Poetry Prize by Culture Recordings. Also in 2020, she was shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Page Poetry Prize, The Creative Future Writers’ Award and longlisted in the Out-Spoken performance and film categories.
Publications in journals and anthologies include: The Caribbean Writer, The Amistad, Tentacular and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Bad Betty Press.
Notable Commissions: The Original Wailers, BBC Bitesize, English Heritage, The Salisbury Theatre Playhouse, where her first play The Firebird was performed, in 2019.
Amyra León is a musician, playwright, author, and activist. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, her work fuses music and poetry through powerfully transparent performances focusing on social inequalities and communal healing whilst celebrating love, Blackness, and womanhood.
She has performed throughout the United States and Europe collaborating with the likes of The Apollo, BAM, BBC, Roundhouse, Amnesty International and more.
Amyra composed Una Mujer Derramada in collaboration with Sivan Eldar commissioned by and performed with Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra, the Montpellier National Opera, and the Paris Chamber Orchestra. She is the inaugural recipient of the Battersea Arts Centre Phoenix Award which led to the 2019 London premiere of her debut play VASELINE.
She is the author of Concrete Kids (Penguin 2020), Freedom We Sing (Flying Eye Books 2020) and Darling (Walker, Candlewick 2022) . Her musical debut, Something Melancholy, led to sharing stages with Common, Robert Glasper, Nikki Giovanni and more. Amyra’s debut album, WITNESS, was released in September 2020.