People across the globe are rallying against the killing of Black people by the police and against racism, racialised inequality, discrimination, violence, and oppression.
Artists continue to speak out, through their work, about these injustices and their work is a profound reflection on our society and a powerful call to action.
As part of their creative support for the Black Lives Matter movement, CAN, CivicLeicester, Manchester City of Literature and Manchester Poetry Library presented the online Manchester launch of the Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World anthology as part of The Festival of Libraries (Wednesday 9 – Sunday 13 June)
Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World, published in November 2020, presents poems and short prose from around the world responding to Black Lives Matter. The anthology was initiated and edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa of CivicLeicester in July 2020.
Hosted by the writer, poet and performer, Yusra Warsama, the online event featured powerful readings and performances from poets included in the anthology alongside creative responses from four emerging Manchester poets – Gabriel, Jade Williams, Jova, and Meduulla, offering a powerful and dynamic, poetic dialogue.
A panel including Ambrose Musiyiwa, Professor Erinma Bell MBE (Co-Founder, and CEO of CARISMA) Cheryl Martin (Co-Artistic Director of Commonword, Manchester‘s Black-led literature organisation), and Becky Swain (Director of Manchester Poetry Library) shared their reflections on the importance of poetry, activism and the Black Lives Matter movement to Manchester.
Gabriel is a spoken word artist who shares his experiences and views through his poetry; exploring race, political discourse, Black youth culture in Britain infused with African history. Using hip-hop-influenced rhymes and story-telling, Gabriel seeks to take audiences on a journey that educates, challenges and inspires. He performed at the 2019 Manchester International Festival and opened for Robyn Travis’s Freedom from the Streets book launch.
Jade Williams is a Black, Queer, multi-disciplinary artist from Manchester working in dance, poetry, writing, performance, and creative facilitation. She has performed her poetry at venues and events including STUN, Emergency, Tickle My Fancy, Allure of Sorts (commissioned by Tape and Scaffold Gallery), and NIAMOS.
Jova Bagioli Reyes is a Queer, Latinx poet, musician, and activist. Their work draws on their own experiences and the rich tradition of Latin American protest, struggle, and art. They are committed to using their voice to build solidarity amongst the people of the world.
Meduulla is a 21-year-old Zimbabwean-born conscious rapper raised in Manchester. She began writing poetry with the Manchester writing collective, Young Identity. From this, she developed a music career that has seen her work with Wiley, Nia Archives, and Aitch. Medulla worked with Imperial War Museum North for Refugee Week 2021.
Yusra Warsama is an actor, writer and theatre practitioner. She began her theatre career at Contact, Manchester. Yusra was a collaborator on the spoken word theatre piece Don Letts’ Speakers’ Corner. She has toured her poetry nationally and was part of a national poetry residency Incubate, which resulted in a collaborative work in progress piece Three-Way, alongside poet Malika Booker and grime artist R.T.
Ambrose Musiyiwa is a poet, journalist, and photographer. His journalism, short stories, and essays have been published in newspapers and magazines in the UK, Zimbabwe, the US, and South Korea. His poem The Man Who Ran Through The Tunnel has been translated into 12 languages. Ambrose is a University of Manchester/CAN PhD candidate in the Department of Drama.
Cheryl Martin is Co-Artistic Director of Manchester’s Black-led literature organisation, Commonword as well as the Black Gold Arts Festival. She has worked as a poet, playwright, and director, and was a former Associate Director, New Writing/New Work at Contact. Her first solo poetry collection, Alaska, was longlisted for The Polari Prize.
Becky Swain is Director of Manchester Poetry Library. She has led arts and learning programmes at organisations including Arvon, University College London, and Creative Partnerships. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Erinma Bell MBE is the co-founder/CEO of the charity CARISMA (Community Alliance for Renewal Inner South Manchester Area) offering alternatives to violent street, gun, and gang crime. The charity has been instrumental in a 92% decrease in gun and gang crime in the city. A sculpture of her, made from 50 recycled guns as a tribute to her work, was unveiled in 2016. Erinma is a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Greater Manchester.
CivicLeicester is an indy publisher which uses events, video, photography, social media, print, and digital media to highlight conversations. Published books include Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World and Per terra e per mare: Poesie per chi è in cerca di rifugio (translated by Pietro Deandrea).
Manchester City of Literature isn’t one organization, it’s made up of many. All the writers, bookshops, libraries, festivals, event teams, and more are part of their team
Manchester Poetry Library is a public poetry library that welcomes all. As part of Manchester Metropolitan University, it hosts a collection of poetry and a year-round programme of events. The library will open on Oxford Road in 2021.