How has being a London Laureate impacted your career?
Working with the London Laureate programme was one of the first times I was able to work with more established, older poets, which helped both my writing and my general professional development as a whole. It also linked me with Spread the Word, who I have worked with on projects since then, and the people who have worked with us have given me valuable advice when it comes to my career.
Tell us about what you’ve been involved with since National Poetry Day 2013
I was chosen by The Hospital Club to be one of their Emerging Creatives for 2015, and am using the grant I was awarded to work on a collection of poems and short stories titled Losing My Last First Tooth – the project will combine visual arts and poetry to produce a series of prints and postcards by the end of the year. I have taught poetry workshops for young people across the country, from teenagers in Lewisham to Irish traveller children in Essex, and have performed at the Southbank Centre, Bristol Old Vic, and the National Theatre. I have recently joined My Body Back – a project that aims to help female victims of sexual assault reclaim and reestablish their sexuality – as a team member, and will begin running poetry workshops for them soon. I am also working on organising The Forum, the arts stage I run at Brainchild, a three-day music and arts festival I helped to set up in 2011.
What would you advise anyone who’s thinking of applying for the Young Poet Laureate 2015/2016?
I would tell them to think hard about the commitment and try to see how the role would both benefit the London Laureate programme as a whole, as well as themselves. I’d tell them to practise writing more, practice performing, and not to worry about if they’re ‘good enough’ – anyone has a chance, and even if you don’t get the Young Poet for London role, even being shortlisted or longlisted can be a really positive experience.
What are your interests and what opportunities are you looking for?
I love to teach and work with young people in particular, and so any opportunity to work with them is always really exciting for me. I also have a strong interest in social justice, education, women’s rights and global politics, and so am always looking for more opportunities to work further with organisations in these fields. A part of me would also love to do more academic work – at university I focused on African American modernist poetry, mid-20th century American drama and novels, and West African literature. I also have given talks at events like the Women of the World Festival, and written articles/reviews for publications like The Guardian and The Debrief, and would be happy to do more!