Daytime Panel Bio’s
Derri Burdon Chair/Facilitator
Ebooks & Social Media
Nii Parkes Chair
Writing For Children & Diversity
Kuljit Chuhan Chair
How To Get Your Novel Published
Jacob Ross Chair
Informal Salon session hosts:
Mark Mace Smith
Host Mark Mace Smith
Headline act: Kei Miller
Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared alongside the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah. She is a literary activist, researcher, educator and director of theatre for development and the co-ordinator/mentor for Leeds Young Authors. Her work has appeared in several publications including, A Journey Through Our History (The Jamaican Society, 2003), Voices of Women (Yorkshire Arts, 2003) and Hair (Suitcase Press, 2006).
Madeline Heneghan is the Festival Director for Writing on the Wall, which produces Liverpool’s annual WoW Festival and a programme of activity that celebrates writing in all of its forms. The WoW Festival has a reputation for promoting radical writing and progressive ideas. Previously Madeline was the Black and Racial Minority Action Plan Coordinator for Liverpool and an Equalities practitioner with Innervison. For her MA thesis Madeline undertook primary research in South Central Los Angeles, investigating the causes of the 1991 uprisings. She has lectured in Black Studies at Hope University and Crime & Social Justice at Edge Hill University.
Shamshad Khan’s performances have included collaborations with musicians, directors, video artists and beatboxers. Her poetry collection”Megalomaniac” (Salt publishing) takes its title from her full length show about power. Shamshad’s current work focuses on love and spiritual longing. She is co-editor of two anthologies of poetry for Crocus books. She runs “Hard Rain” a free monthly poetry workshop and performance night at Isis Cafe, Levenshulme, Manchester (www.hardrainpoetry.com).
Shirley May, is a poet who has performed extensively at prominent venues across the North West. She has been published in The Suitcase Book of Love Poems, and Hair(both Suitcase Press). Shirley is the co-founder, of Young Identity young people’s writing project. She is Project Director of Commonword’s Young Identity Big Lottery Project, and Chair of the North West branch of the Cultural Olympiad inspired, Shake The Dust youth poetry slam project.
Derri Burdon is the Chief Executive of Curious Minds. Curious Minds are funded by Arts Council England to help realise the Arts Council’s goal that ‘every child and young person should experience the richness of the arts’. They will be working to make arts and cultural experiences and opportunities more coherent and accessible for children, young people and their families.
Ebooks & Social Media
Zahid Hussain, author of The Curry Mile, was born and raised in Lancashire. His first novel, The Curry Mile, is set in Manchester. The novel tells the tale of a Pakistani family in the restaurant trade and he bravely explores issues as diverse as diaspora, identity, gender politics and intergenerational conflict. New Statesman magazine named The Curry Mile as one of their Books of the Year for 2006. Zahid Hussain works as a social entrepreneur, specialising in community based research, regeneration and development.
Saimurai (Simon Murray) is a writer, poet, artist, graphic designer of Pomfretian-Bajan heritage. In a former life he worked in advertising. The first part of his debut novel, Kill Myself Now: The True Confessions of an Advertising Genius is published by Peepal Tree Press.
Saimurai is a regular performer of spoken word, and a finalist in the Mo Juice Poetry Slam 2008, Barbados. He toured New York, Philadelphia and Washington as part of the ‘FWords: Creative Freedom’ project. He is a poet coach for the Leeds Young Author’s Team Poetry Slam.
Adam Lowe is a writer and publisher from Leeds. He has been nominated for four Lambda Literary Awards, three British Fantasy Awards and the Eric Hoffer Award. He was awarded a Spectrum Fantastic Art Silver Editorial Award for his magazine, Polluto. Recently, he has worked with West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Royal Exchange Theatre, Zion Arts Centre, Contact Theatre, MTV Books, the BBC and Channel 4. He is currently exploring new models for digital distribution, including ebooks and audio, and acts as a freelance social media and marketing expert in the literature sector.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator and performance poet. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck (University of London) and is a 2007 recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy. Nii’s début novel Tail of the Blue Bird was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize and his work has been translated into Italian, French, Chinese, Dutch, German and Arabic. His latest books of poetry are the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, ballast: a remix (2009) and The Makings of You(Peepal Tree Press)
Writing For Children & Diversity
Born in Britain and is of African-Caribbean and English parentage. She is a lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures and Creative Writing and is a member of the teaching team at the Writing School based at The Manchester Metropolitan University. She has written four novels for older children, published by Viking, Harper Collins and Puffin.
Has written several books for children and young adults, including A Nest of Vipers (Corgi, 2008), the story of Cato Hopkins, the youngest member of a group of expert fraudsters.
Catherine was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of the Arts London, Writer in Residence at Holloway Prison and Reader in Residence at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Children’s Literature Festival ‘Imagine’.
A children’s librarian and a judge of the ‘Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award’ – This award is for a manuscript that celebrates cultural diversity in the widest possible sense, either in terms of its story or the ethnic and cultural origins of its author.
A British author of children’s fiction. His first book, The Cry of the Wolf, was published in 1990. Among his other works are Junk, Doing It, Bloodtide and Kill All Enemies. He has written in both realist and fantasy styles. In 2001 he wrote the novelisation of the film, Billy Elliot, based on Lee Hall’s screenplay. In his own words:
‘I was born in Sussex in 1954 – far too long ago. I was an extremely dreamy and shy child, and I used to wander round muttering to myself and playing games with imaginary friends. My parents had to shout – “He’s in the land!” to explain to people why I apparently couldn’t hear what they were saying to me. I did very badly at school – I was daydreaming too much to concentrate on anything much. It wasn’t until I was pretty nearly grown up that I started to think that the world around me might be at least as interesting as what was going on in my own head.’
Founded Tamarind Books in 1987 with the mission of redressing the balance of diversity in children’s publishing. Over twenty years later, the problem is still very relevant today. And so, Tamarind still exists to put diversity ‘in the picture’.
Tamarind is now integrated into Random House Children’s Books, and is looking to expand its fiction list over the next five years. It remains true to the Tamarind ethos of publishing compelling stories, stories that give a positive profile to children of all backgrounds, stories that allow all children to see themselves in the stories they read.
Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan
He has crossed a range of disciplines including video and digital media practice and teaching; cultural development; as a creative producer and project manager; a collaborative audio-visual project consultant for museums; and in education, curriculum and learning development. Over the years he has extensively worked with various communities, managed the BICA arts unit in Tameside for 10 years, founded and run a number of groups and organisations such as the Virtual Migrants artists collective and was recently Principal Artistic Manager at Community Arts North West. His own work has been shown in the USA, France, India, Brazil, Mexico and across the UK. He has given talks and chaired discussions in a wide variety of settings and geographies.
Kooj is also the co-director of Lifting The Lid which aims to generate discussion and to give accessible analysis a practicality and political immediacy.
How To Get Your Novel Published
The founder of Peepal Tree Press. He began a part-time Ph D focusing on the relationship between imaginative literature and ethnic diversity in Trinidad and Guyana. In 1985, after many years, he completed the thesis. His amateur academic ‘career’ was cut short by the establishment of Peepal Tree Press in 1985. After years of struggling to manage both lecturing work and Peepal Tree, he was able to take early retirement from his college in 1996 to devote his time fully to Peepal Tree. Peepal Tree is one of the key organisations supporting the new, SI Leeds Literary Prize for new Black and Asian women authors.
Kavita Bhanot grew up in London and lived in Birmingham before moving to Delhi, where she directed an Indian-British literary festival and worked as an editor for India’s first literary agency. She then spent two years running a guest house in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. She has two Masters in Creative Writing and in Colonial and Post-Colonial Literature, both from Warwick University, and is now a PhD student at Manchester University. She has had several stories published in anthologies and magazines, two of her stories have been published on BBC Radio 4, and she is the editor of the short story collection Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press, 2011). Kavita is a reader with The Literary Consultancy.
Has had stories and articles published in magazines, anthologies and newspapers. A recent story, ‘Your Incredible Excuse’, is included in the anthology ‘Too Asian, Not Asian Enough’, published by Tindal Street Press. Divya graduated from the Prose Fiction Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia in 2007 and subsequently worked in advertising in London before being awarded a fully-funded M.Phil studentship by the University of Hong Kong. She is completing her first novel.
Director of Bristol publishers City Chameleon which supports emerging creative writers from a range of cultural and social perspectives. Bertel started writing over twenty years ago and has hosted residencies, community workshops, as well as undertaking television and radio work.
City Chameleon recently published Seasoned, a book by local poet Edson Burton. The title is a term that referred to a slave on the plantations who knew all the routines. Seasoned was subsequently adapted as a stage performance.
A poet, playwright, journalist, novelist and a tutor of Narrative Craft. He edited Artrage, Britain’s leading Intercultural Arts magazine and currently lectures in creative writing and international literature in England and abroad. Hailed as ‘a writer of formidable technical range and emotional depth’, Ross’s work has been critically acclaimed internationally.
In 2006 Jacob Ross was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is currently one of the judges of the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, the Tom-Gallon Award and the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize. His first novel, Pynter Bender, was on the Commonwealth Writers Prize shortlist.
Ross recently won an Arts Council of England Award for his current novel in progress. He is a reader for The Literary Consultancy in London and Associate Fiction Editor for Peepal Tree Press.
Additional Daytime Session: 2pm -3pm
Engaging others to write: how to teach your craft and get paid! Host: Anjum Malik
Many writers host workshops as a supplement to their writing income; for some it is their core activity. What particular skills does a writer need to facilitate a creative writing workshop and how best can these skills be developed? Where is the demand and how can writer’s best advertise their availability? These and any other questions on developing yourself as a writer will be answered in a Q & A session with Anjum Malik at the Black Writers Conference 2pm – 3pm 24th March 2012. No previous experience required.
Anjum has written several original radio plays. Her most recent radio play, aired in January 2012 is Surrounded by The Enemy, a play inspired by the real-life story of a Native American who is believed to have been buried beneath the streets of Salford. Anjum has also written two series of her original Woman’s Hour drama, The Interpreter. She has written for Doctors and has an original screenplay in development. Previously Anjum has taken part in numerous writers’ residences and her stage credits include two stage monologues for the People’s History Museum in Manchester. She is an honorary writing fellow of Manchester Metropolitan University and has worked as writer in residence for the Kali Theatre Company. Anjum is also a published poet.
Informal Salon session hosts:
Jennifer Makumbi is currently completing a C.W Phd (prose). Her writing explores aspects of transgression and curse. Her thesis looks at the syncresity of western and traditional African forms in prose. Earlier on she was a teacher of English (O and A levels) in Uganda. Jennifer has taught both English and Creative writing at Manchester Met and Bolton Universities. She is currently teaching Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Her research interests are Post Colonial writing especially African Oral traditions, Masculinities and Feminism.
Segun Lee-French is a poet, singer, producer/composer, playwright, film-maker & club promoter and founder member of Manchester’s Speakeasy People poetry collective. Segun’s debut solo play, Bro 9 at Contact Theatre, won Best Fringe Performer & Best Design in the prestigious Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards.
Segun’s first poetry collection, Praise Songs for Aliens was published by Crocus in October 2009.
Mark Mace Smith (host)
Mark is the Commonword Northern Slam Champion 2011. BBC North/MediaCityUK Poet in Residence. Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam winner 2008 (RU 2009). BBC slam finalist 2007 & 2009. He has written for the Guardian and the Manchester Evening News. His photography has featured in The Voice and The Lancashire Evening Post. He is the founder and host of ‘Off The Beaten Track’ Arts Exhibitions & Events and is also co-founder of THUD DUB BOOKS, publishers of the underground cult classic, Jobseeker’s Annoyance. Mark Mace Smith’s fourth collection of poetry, Power – Stance – Perception, is due for release in spring 2012.
He is a poet, photographer, painter, publisher, drummer, beatboxer, events manager and political activist. He facilitates art therapy workshops in painting, poetry and spoken word performance.
Kei Miller (headline act)
Kei Miller is a Jamaican poet, novelist and essayist. He has a cat called Metu who insists on using her paw to press the delete button on his keyboard. Metu is Kei’s strictest editor and, in fact, may have written this bio. Kei has published three books of poetry and three of fiction. His books have been shortlisted for a number of awards including the Dylan Thomas Prize, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and the Bocas Prize. He won the Una Marson Prize for Literature in 2008 and in 2010 became Jamaica’s youngest winner of a Silver Musgrave Medal. Kei has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and recently completed a PhD in Caribbean Literature at the Glasgow University where he is also a lecturer. When not pretending to be an academic, Kei travels the world reading from his work.
Dorothea Smartt, born and raised in London, is of Barbadian heritage. Described as ‘accessible and dynamic’, her poetry appears in several journals and ground-breaking anthologies, including IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000). She has two celebrated collections, Connecting Medium (2001) and Ship Shape (2009) with Peepal Tree Press. In her role as Co-Director of Inscribe, a Black & Asian writer development programme housed by Peepal Tree, she navigates the virtual world of the internet. Her digital presences include:
Her voice recorded for The Poetry Archive – sound recordings: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=15391
Her youtube presence: Youtube videos of poetry performance (one example):
Her blog for her book, Ship Shape:
Her websites: eg:
Her facebook GROUP page, ‘The Art of Dorothea Smartt’ :