Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK


Citizens of the Archive: Uncovering Race and Poetry

2pm-8pm, Monday 3rd July 2017 at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, London

Organised in partnership with the University of Sussex.




2.00-2.15pm Welcome

2.15-4.15pm Workshops

4.15-4.30pm Break

4.30-5.30pm Panel Discussion

5.30-6.30pm Break

6.30-8.00pm Poetry Reading




The display highlights the Poetry Library’s collection of poetry by writers of colour, highlighting the Caribbean Artists Movement, radical black publishers from the 1960s onwards (such as New Beacon Books and Peepal Tree Press), small press poetry, and materials such as pamphlets, posters, audio and video recordings (such as recordings of the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books that took place in the UK between 1982-1995).




Opportunities for attendees to engage with the Poetry Library’s collection and the display through close readings of poetry, creative writing exercises, handling of materials, and small group discussions. There are 4 workshop stations running concurrently over 2 hours.


- Denise DeCaires Narain

  • On writing migration from Edward Kamau Brathwaite to Warsan Shire, genealogies of Black/West Indian/ British poets, and reading histories and aesthetics of migration and diaspora.

- Sophie Mayer and Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

  • On Benjamin Zephaniah’s Dread Poets’ Society [video], the British literary canon, and the materiality of poetry.

- Rachel Long

  • On the collectivism of Black women’s presses, and reading and writing poetry collectively.

- Sam Solomon and Nisha Ramayya

  • On finding and identifying British poetry related to questions of race, exploring the Poetry Library’s catalogue and collection, and discussing publishing, race, and readership.


Panel Discussion


Brief presentations on issues surrounding race, poetry, known and unknown histories, identity and citizenship, education and curricula, followed by a Q&A and general discussion between speakers and attendees.


- Denise DeCaires Narain

  • On working in a university in the UK and teaching Caribbean literature, Black British literature, and literature by writers of colour.

- Nazmia Jamal

  • On the importance of studying poets of colour in the classroom and on the impact of bringing poets into schools.

- Kadija George

  • On Black British publishers of poetry, the importance of publishing anthologies of and reviewing Black British poetry.


Poetry Reading


- Rachel Long

- Savannah Sevenzo

- Momtaza Mehri

- Anthony Joseph