Flatpack's '68 Cycling trail for Birmingham Heritage week.
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The work from our first 'Statues' workshop is now live in the app. Download the app to check it out.
Birmingham Literature Festival
Verve Poetry Festival
Dr Shahed Yousaf is a British writer and artist of Pakistani heritage. He is a GP who works in prisons and with the homeless community and is interested in the therapeutic potential of literature and the arts. He has completed the Penguin Random House Constructing a Novel creative writing course as well as short story and flash fiction master classes. He is an experienced writer of flash fiction, short stories and plays and is working on a novel which is a medical thriller set in a prison. His writing has been described as ‘shocking, electric and full of the most incredible anecdotes’. He was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Prize 2016 and commended for the Faber & Faber FAB prize 2017. Shahed won a place on to the Middle Way Mentoring Project 2018 for writers based in the Midlands. He chaired the Stirling Publishing ‘Colours of Madness’ event at Waterstones Birmingham in October 2018 and has a passion for mental health
Nellie Cole began writing poetry while studying Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as This is Not Your Final Form (The Emma Press, 2017), and The Poetry of the Black Country (Offa’s Press, 2017). Her debut pamphlet, Bella (Offa’s Press, 2018), has been described as having ‘a mature and compassionate sensibility and an enviable gift for language’. She currently leads the monthly writing workshop ‘Pen to Paper’ at Birmingham Museum, and works freelance as a poetry mentor. Her second manuscript, a wider exploration of themes touched upon in Bella.
Gregory Leadbeater is a poet and academic whose work spans the occult and issues around the interface between human beings and mechanics.
Elisabeth Charis is a poet and prose writer, whose work focuses on environmental issues and concerns around gender.
Andy Hollyhead is an academic and writer of fiction in all its forms. His most recent short story will be included in a newsletter by Manifold Press, specialising in LGBTQ+ romantic fiction. Following creative writing courses with the Open University, and having had short stories published in anthologies, he has dabbled in many forms of writing over the last ten years.
Ashok was brought up in Leicester and has lived in Aberdeen, Nottingham, London and for the last seventeen years in Birmingham. His training and background has been in the biomedical sciences. He teaches and undertakes research in the area of cell and molecular genetics.
His interest in creative writing began as a way to express his British Indian identity and experiences. He is interested in the complexity of the ways that people and cultures interact with each other.
He has written a play for BBC R4, which was directed by Vanessa Whitburn. He has had a short play, in the trilogy of 3 short plays under the title the Cornershop, produced by Man Mela theatre company and toured nationally. He is presently working with Futuretheatre company developing a play based on the expulsion of Asians by Idi Amin from Uganda in 1972. His short story, called Ninety Days, was recently short listed in the Asian Writer Short Story Prize on the theme of borders, boundaries and belonging. The short list is published in an anthology by Dahlia Publishing.
Heddwen Bethan is a poet living and working in Birmingham. She would describe herself as a Celtic mix and after studying for her Masters in Literature and Creative Writing at Bangor University, she returned to the West Midlands. She is a member of the New Creatives scheme with the BBC and Arts Council England, and was published in the anthology Closed Gates and Open Arms (Verve, 2019).
Garrie Fletcher is a fiction writer and poet, with an interest in poetry of politics and localism.
Susan Stokes Chapman
A born and bred Midlander Susan attended Aberystwyth University between 2004-08, studying first for a BA in Education & English Literature and then for an MA in Creative Writing. She now works for the university remotely as a Higher Education advisor. In her spare time she is studying for professional editorial qualifications, and works as an Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands’ Spark Young Writers programme. Susan has a keen interest in Romanticism and Georgian culture having previously completed a novel set in 1820s London.
Romalyn was born in 1989 in Lipa City, Philippines and she migrated to the UK at 16 years old. She helps to run Blakenhall Writers Group in Wolverhampton. She has also been an Offa’s Press’ mentee. Her poems appeared in Offa’s Press’ anthology, We’re All In This Together and in variety of magazines such as Cannon’s Mouth, Southlight and Ink, Sweat, & Tears, amongst others. Her first novel, Chasing Deimos, was shortlisted for The Asian Writer Chick-Lit Competition in 2014.
Jacqui Rowe is a translator and poet who specialises in short-form poetry and work responding to Birmingham, her native city.
Her sixth book, Other Things I Didn’t Used To Know, is a collection of poems which address her experience of chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, was joint winner of the indigo Dreams collection competition, and will be published by indigo Dreams later this year. She also has poems in two anthologies, Places for Poetry and Beyond the Storm – poems from the covid-19 era, both coming out later in 2020. She has worked as a writer in schools and in health and social care settings. co-editor of the award-winning Flarestack Poets press, she is also a tutor for the Poetry School. Since 2014 she has had a place on writing west Midlands’ Room 204 writer development scheme.
Shaun Hill is a poet and facilitator (and Hippodrome Young Poet) practicing in Birmingham who you can find at many a poetry night in the city – he’s also shared his words at festivals including WOMAD, Shambala, Verve and UK Young Artists Takeover 2019. In his own words, he uses his writing and performance to co-author moments of radical intimacy – which we will talk about more later. We were lucky enough to work with Shaun during Birmingham Literature Festival when he wrote a poem to be pinned to Medicine Bakery + Kitchen find our podcast with Shaun here: www.theoverhear.app/podcast
Amerah Saleh is a spoken word artist born and bred from Birmingham. Her Muslim Yemeni roots give her space to get lost and found on multiple occasions between identity. She is the Co-Founder of Verve Poetry Press and a General Manager at Young Giant, as part of Beatfreeks Collective. Amerah has performed all around Europe and has released her first collection called ‘I Am Not From Here’ in April 2018. Her work touches on identity, womanhood, religion and the obscure idea of belonging only to one place.
Jack Crowe is a poet who has been gently tapping Birmingham on the shoulder for a big while. He has made interdisciplanetary work for Verve Poetry Festival, Apples & Snakes and Beatfreaks. He is the co-inventor of Poetry & Music thing, Funkenteleky. Jack’s words offer flights of fancy, but on those flights there is a buffet trolley serving meaning, duty free. He has several books out – he will take them back to the library when he has read them.
Bethany Slinn is a poet, performer, creative practitioner and community producer living and working in Birmingham. Socially-engaged work is at the root of her practice and informs who she work with and why.
Kamil Mahmood is a Poet, Spoken Word and Visual Artist born and raised in Birmingham His work explores identity, community, Islam, the British Pakistani Diaspora, masculinity and international activism. He combines contemporary commentary with narratives of the often overlooked and unheard, championing words as tools for change.
He has worked with organisations including Beatfreeks, Birmingham REP, Ummahsonic, Sampad, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and has perfomed with Out-Spoken, live on BBC Asian Network, at the Midlands Arts Centre, the Birmingham Hippodrome, Ikon Gallery as well as Cheltenham and Verve Poetry Festivals. He has been described as a wordsmith of the ages whose lyrics permeate the zeitgeist and a promising prospect for the UK Poetry scene.
Hannah Swingler is a poet, storyteller, artist, and teacher that works across a kaleidoscope of platforms.
Hannah's first collection 'The Dress Has Pockets' was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2019.
She has performed across the country and internationally, on stages, streets and radio. Her work explores themes of nostalgia, family relationships, mental health, and local history and heritage. She is constantly exploring narratives surrounding memory.
Hannah is a BBC New Creative, Birmingham Hippodrome Young Poet and a resident poet for the Birmingham Midland Institute's BMI Live! programme.
She has recently been commissioned by The Poetry Society and Canal & River Trust, BBC Radio and the Overhear App. She was the voice and face of Nationwide Building Society's latest marketing campaign.
Hannah was awarded a Masters with Distinction in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham in 2018, where she coached their uniSLAM team to victory. In 2019, she joined them to win the Hammer & Tongue Team Slam at The Royal Albert Hall, making her a multi-slam winner alongside 2018's CoachesSLAM.
Hannah spends her days teaching secondary and sixth form students that it's okay to be messy. She can also quote the whole of Mean Girls and finds it fundamentally strange if someone is not a dessert person.
She believes good things come to those who make.
Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham. She has been writing and performing for 6 years at nights around the UK. She has featured at Outspoken (London), Poetry is Dead Good (Nottingham), Find the Right Words (Leicester) and Hit The Ode (Birmingham). She was invited to perform at TedxBrum 2016 (Power of us).
Nafeesa has also performed at Cheltenham and Manchester Literature Festivals as part of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology publication by Saqi Books, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She is an alumni of Mouthy Poets and Derby Theatre Graduate Associate Artists. She ran Twisted Tongues, an open-mic only poetry night at The Station in Kings Heath.
Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, from underground Tokyo clubs to tramways in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events.
Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in translation studies. He has worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and was the Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes between 2010 and 2017. Since 2012, he has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. He currently holds the post of General Manager at Free Radical, a Birmingham-based company creating opportunities for young artists with an activist practice.
Willis The Poet
Rick Sanders, aka Willis the Poet, is an established comedy stand-up poet based out of the mighty West Midlands. As well as being a regular on the Birmingham poetry circuit, Willis also actively supports the flourishing spoken word event scene in the region, his sticky sausage-fingers in as many pies as he can.
On the national stage, Willis won the 1st round of the InkBomb slam competition in Bristol and was runner up in the Wolverhampton Literary Festival Slam in 2017 & 2018. He has performed in Manchester at the Evidently World War Four slam competition, the Hammer & Tongue Slam in Bristol and also at the Stafford Gatehouse on the open mic at the Bang Said The Gun tour. He has appeared at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, in the poetry tent Lakefest, and as the emerging talent at Apples & Snake’s Bright Smoke event with the RSC in Stratford, wowing the organisers with his comic verse. He was also selected to appear on the Black Country Broadsheet Project as one of the emerging poets in the region – The Cannabis Anarchist
Willis has set up a monthly poetry slam event in Dudley to bring more spoken word to the Black Country and hosts a series of Comedy Poetry Nights in the Midlands and beyond. He is also co-host of Tilt on the Mic in Birmingham and presents Brum Radio Poets, both on the monthly radio show and at the quarterly live showcase event in Waterstones. He also hosts Whisky & Words at the Birmingham Whisky Club, bringing together two of his favourite things.
Jasmine Gardosi is a previous winner of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Mix It Up Midlands and International Pangaea Poetry slams. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb and she was recently shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize for Performance and for Birmingham Poet Laureate 2016/18.
A former BBC Arts Young Creative, she has since worked as a Poet in Residence for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as an Emerge Young Artist under The Mighty Creatives, and is collaborating with Autin Dance Theatre on a sexual health show combining dance and spoken word.
Jasmine runs workshops in schools and community centres and leads on West Midlands Poets’ Place. She likes to write about weird things in unweird places – kind of like her, everywhere.
Rupinder Kaur is a poet, spoken word performer, workshop facilitator and blogger. Birmingham born with a strong love and connection to her Panjabi roots which is shown in her work. Her debut poetry collection, Rooh, was released in September 2018 with Verve Poetry Press. She has performed across London and Birmingham and was featured with BBC Asian network.
Casey Bailey is a poet, spoken word performer, author, facilitator, rapper and secondary school senior leader, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham. His work has seen him performing on stages up and down the country, and recently on the screen with BBC Three. His work often deals with social issues, and personal loss and grief. Casey’s debut poetry pamphlet Waiting at Bloomsbury Park is published by Big White Shed (2017). His first full collection Adjusted (2018) is published by Verve Poetry Press.
Kuli Kohli is a writer and poet. She was born with cerebral palsy in India, Kuli is married with three children and works full time for the City of Wolverhampton Council. Kuli has had a passion for writing since childhood.
She runs Punjabi Women’s Writing Group, co-coordinates Blakenhall Writers' Group and she writes a regular blog for Disability Arts Online. Kuli has also written a novel about living with cerebral palsy in an Asian household. Her debut poetry pamphlet ‘Patchwork’ was published by Offa’s Press in 2016.
Kuli has read at many events and festivals across the West Midlands, London, Oswestry, Ironbridge and via Skype to India. In November 2018 she was invited as guest lecturer at Humboldt University in Berlin. She has been involved in many projects - including readings at the University of Greenwich and Liverpool Hope University. She will be reading in Coventry’s Peace Festival (3 November at Coventry Central Library); Shrewsbury Literature Festival (24 November) and the British Museum in London (3 December for the Purple Light Up event for International Disabled Persons Day). More invitations are coming in for the New Year.
Performance Poet & playwright of over 30 years standing. Published author & former Walsall Poet Laureate. Heads up Poets Against Racism in the West Midlands & runs poetry workshops. Performed at numerous poetry festivals in 2019 & commissioned to write a trilogy of plays for China West Midlands 2020.
Performance artist, writer and curator.
Ma in contemporary art RCA
BA in theatre
Director at Asylum Art Gallery LTD
Realized in live art and installations, the practise explores physical trauma, neurosis and catharsis through public engagement in the act of ritual.
People class me as a poet, but I see myself more as a 'Realist that busses lyrics', I chat about topics that's for the benefit of the public, while I don't like being idle, I've just gotta say that I certainly AIN'T no idol, I'm just dropping lyrics from my book named the 'WARRIORS Bible', you people intrigued yet, well come hear me get tribal…............
Laura Jane Round
A published writer and performance poet from the Black Country. Currently sequestered in Liverpool. Social Media Rep for the LJMU Creative Writing Society. Co-founder of the 'Antler Christmas Radio' podcast.
Jeff Phelps’s poems have been widely anthologised and have appeared in Stand, The Rialto, London Magazine, The Interpreter’s House, Orbis, Poetry Bus and elsewhere. In 2001 he was second prize winner in the Stand open poetry competition with the narrative poem River Passage, which was later produced as a CD by Offa’s Press with piano music by Dan Phelps. He co-edited The Poetry of Shropshire, with Simon Fletcher. In 2015 he won second prize in the Wenlock poetry festival competition. His novels Painter Man and Box of Tricks were published by the award-winning Tindal Street Press. His poetry pamphlet Wolverhampton Madonna is published by Offa’s Press.
He has led many poetry walks and writing workshops including for Valley Projects, Merefest, Rednile and with Offa's Press.
Leanne Cooper is a Writer and Poet from the Black Country, who has been published both online, and in print, for several anthologies; she released her first book Awake at 3 AM in March 2018, and her second 'All For You' is set to be released at the end of this year. Leanne has been performing across the West Midlands and Staffordshire, since her debut in 2017.
I'm a performance poet and writer living in Willenhall in the West Midlands. I've had five books of poems published, have co-written three punk autobiographies, and have performed the length and breadth of the country. My work has also been included in several anthologies, and individual poems have won prizes in poetry competitions. I'm a member of the Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists collective.
Dave Pitt is an award winning playwright, performance poet, story teller and workshop facilitator. Dave’s plays have been performed in many places, most recently in the 14:48 theatre festival in Seattle. He has performed poetry around the country both solo and as part of the group, “Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists.” He hails from Darlaston and now lives in Wolverhampton.
“Black Country Stormzy” – Jimmy Andrex. Performance Poet.
“Dave Pitt took an already superb atmosphere and turned it up a notch or two with a superb set. We definitely hope to bring him back to Oooh Beehive again in the future.” - Oooh Beehive, Swindon.
“A short story delivered with a comfortable patience that keeps us quiet and loud in all the right places. The final piece of prose brings elbows onto the table tops and some salt in our eyes.” - Birmingham Review.
“Voice of Social Justice” - Review of Performance Poetry gig.
Emma Purshouse is Poet Laureate for the City of Wolverhampton. She is a free-lance writer and an experienced workshop facilitator. She works with children and adults.
Emma is a poetry slam champion and performs regularly at spoken word nights and festivals across the country, often using her native Black Country dialect in her work. Appearances include, The Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Solfest, Latitude and WOMAD. She has supported John Hegley, Holly McNish and Carol Ann Duffy.
In 2017 Emma won the ‘Making Waves’ international spoken word competition which was judged by Luke Wright.
Her most recent publication is ‘Close’ (Offa’s Press, 2018). This was shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award in 2019.