Refugee Week, African Stories in Yorkshire & Postcolonial Education

It’s the Yorkshire Festival and Refugee Week next week which means that there are a host of brilliant events across the North which celebrate the diversity, stories and talent of the region.   There is a wonderful week-long Migration Matters festival in Sheffield and Wakefield, and as part of this Verse Matters is running a … Continue reading Refugee Week, African Stories in Yorkshire & Postcolonial Education

Review: Poetic Collaboration in Iraq and Palestine

This is the proof of a review that was recently published in Stand 14.2 (2016) in Leeds: Van Winkle, Ryan and Lauren Pyott, eds. This Room is Waiting: Poems from Iraq and the United Kingdom. Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-908754-49-3. 128pp. Bell, Henry and Sarah Irving, eds. Forewords by Liz Lochead and Maya Abu Al-Hayyat. … Continue reading Review: Poetic Collaboration in Iraq and Palestine

Education, Rights and Migration

There are lots of fantastic events happening at Universities across the North of England which connect local and international issues.  On Friday 26 February, the School of English at the University of Leeds is hosting an event on Remembering Human Rights in an Age of Crisis in partnership with the David Oluwale Memorial Association. Speakers include Gary Younge, Caryl Phillips, Corinne … Continue reading Education, Rights and Migration

Aikin Mata

It was my privilege to meet Tony Harrison at his home in Newcastle on a wet October afternoon. We sat at his kitchen table drinking strong coffee, and talking about his early years in Leeds and his work at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, where he worked from 1962-1966. Tony Harrison is often referred to as 'Britain's leading … Continue reading Aikin Mata

Up Hill and Down

It has been a packed few weeks for international cultural events in Leeds, Sheffield and the region. Last week the celebrated Mexican poet Pedro Serrano read his poems in Spanish and English to a captivated audience at an event run by the Poetry Centre at the University of Leeds. I ran from here to the White Cloth Gallery to … Continue reading Up Hill and Down

Nigerian Student Verse (1960)

I recently had the honour of meeting Professor Martin Banham, one of the great authorities on Nigerian theatre and Director of the Workshop Theatre in Leeds, 1966-1998. We met on a windy October morning in the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Martin handed me a rare copy of Nigerian Student Verse (Ibadan, 1960): a slim anthology offering … Continue reading Nigerian Student Verse (1960)

Lunch Poems

We are offered an 'injection of poetry' every Wednesday at the fantastic LUNCH POEMS in Leeds, created by Dr Helen Mort, Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in the School of English (University of Leeds). The sessions have been squarely international in outlook so far, ranging from the continuing inequalities in publishing, particularly for Black and Asian poets, to Frank O'Hara's Lunch … Continue reading Lunch Poems

Wole Soyinka in Leeds

Wole Soyinka was a student in Leeds in the late 1950s, where he worked with Tony Harrison, James Simmons and Geoffrey Hill. The extensive archives in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library contain fascinating pictures, manuscripts and letters from this time, including photos of Soyinka performing alongside contemporaries including Barry Cryer, Simmons and Harrison at the Empire Theatre on Briggate. It was … Continue reading Wole Soyinka in Leeds