LEAD POET & CURATOR
Zena Edwards has been involved in performance for 13 years – as a singer/musician, poet and stage-manager after graduating from Middlesex University. She has been a performance poet since 1998, performing, professionally and facilitating workshops in poetry and creative writing since 2002.
Raised in Tottenham, North London, Zena has become known as one the ‘new generation’ of female performance poets to come out of London and was nominated for the Arts Foundation Award for performance Poetry 2007. She has toured extensively round the UK and Europe supported by the Apples and Snakes poetry organisation, 57 Productions and the British Council and has shared the stage and anthologies with some of her most admired predecessors Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sonia Sanchez, Lemn Sissay, Jean Binta Breeze and Roger Mcgough.
MPHO YA BADIMO
Mpho is a cultural ambassador, always optimistic & open to where her journey leads., Mpho performs in Setswana, English & pidgin, influenced by the fusion of village, township & suburb. Mpho founded 5th Grove poetry movement, while studying at the North West University. Mpho has performed in Johannesburg, Botswana, Pretoria, Kimberley & Mafikeng. As a playwright, she has collaborated on a poetic drama, Blood Love, staged at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival 2007.
As ‘Uncaged-Thot’, Mpho has published If these walls could talk, a poem co-written with fellow poet Antiklokwise in the anthology, Alliance Batlhanka. Mpho is also a highly talented jewellery & accessory designer, marketing her work through her design label, Black Lesoti.
Bulelwa Basse is the founder of Lyrical Base Project, a community arts & literature organization. She has worked as a poet, facilitator & events coordinator in diverse education & community settings, including Kgare Ya Afrika, Artscape Theatre, The Centre for the Book & the South African Museum.
Her writing has been published by the Poetry Institute of Africa, University of KwaZulu Natal Press, Department of Arts & Culture & Oprah Magazine.
Bulelwa believes passionately in women empowerment, participating in Bona Magazine’s Women Empowerment Club, True Love Magazine’s Winning Style & Move Magazine’s empowerment initiatives.
Bulelwa is also a former Editor of Muse online poetry magazine & features as Miss ‘Sassy’ Basse on Poetry Delight, the Channel O TV show.
Dzifa Benson writes, performs, curates, teaches and is a creative entrepreneur. She has performed her prose and poetry nationally and internationally at the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre, Tate Britain, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Glastonbury Festival, Edinburgh Festival, the Houses of Parliament and the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris. She regularly curates and hosts spoken word events in London.
Her writing has been widely published in poetry anthologies, newspapers and magazines. In 2007, she commissioned for Africa Beyond’s cross-art project, Translations. She was artist-in-residence at the Courtauld Institute of Art from 2007 to 2009. In 2009 she was invited by Southbank Centre to be an ambassador for its Global Poetry System project.
In 2010, she will curate the Vineyard Poets’ contribution to Tate Britain’s Going Public event and has been commissioned by the British ambassador to Chile to organise a literary event in Santiago.
Kayo Chingonyi has performed his poetry at Soho Theatre, Tate Modern, The Southbank Centre, Shakespeare's Globe and Buckingham Palace as well as countless live venues across the UK. His work has been broadcast on Radio Five Live and Sheffield Live and is anthologized in The Shuffle Anthology 2009 and City Lighthouse (tall-lighthouse, 2009) as well as appearing in print and online magazines including Pomegranate, Tate Etc and Wasafiri (forthcoming). He has completed commissions for organisations such as Louis Vuitton and The Poetry Society and was a contributor to Asking a Shadow to Dance a DVD anthology, produced by Oxfam, launched in December 2009.
Khadijah Ibrahiim is of Jamaican parentage, born in Leeds, England. Educated at the University of Leeds, she has a MA in Theatre Studies & is a published writer. She is also the Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors & the Producer of Leeds Youth poetry Slam festival. Peepal Tree press published her poetry collection ‘Rootz Runnin’ in 2008, that same year she toured the USA with the ‘Fwords Creative Freedom’ writers.
Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s 'most prolific' poets by BBC Radio, she continues to make various stage appearances across Britain, the USA, the Caribbean and Africa. Notable works include ‘Leeds Celebrates South Africa’, 2001 and 2004. She was a member the advisory group that organized some of the events, which marked the visit of Dr Nelson Mandela to the City of Leeds. As a delegate for the Art Council England (Yorkshire) she attended Calabash international Literature Festival in Jamaica. Peepal Tree Press will publish her latest collection of poems summer 2010.
Naima Mclean is an enormously talented writer, poet, vocalist & actress She has earned a degree in theatre & performing arts from the University of Cape Town. She has acted in productions by internationally renowned South African Directors such as Lara Foot Newton & Jay Pather & currently performs with Rite 2 Speak, a collective of young female poets that was formed in 2004. Her current TV roles include cameo features on one of South Africa’s most watched TV dramas Generations, as a presenter for South African Coca Cola game shows, as well as a feature character in the internationally renowned UK TV series Wild At Heart.
Avaes Mohammad is a playwright, poet, performer and research chemist. In 2005, he received the Amnesty International Media Award for his poem ‘Bhopal’, broadcast as part of the BBC’s commemoration of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster. Avaes is currently Director of the ‘British South Asian Aesthetics Project’, an initiative committed to the exploration of theatrical forms deemed representative of contemporary British South Asian identities.
Works written for theatre include touring productions of ‘In God We Trust’ and ‘Shadow Companion’, for radio ‘Bora Bistrah ‘(BBC Radio 3) and for short film ‘Take It Slow’ (Contact Theatre/BBC Co-production).
Also committed to participatory work, especially with young people, Avaes regularly delivers creative workshops, using theatre, rap, poetry and science, in education, community and organisational settings. Teacher-practitioner roles have included facilitation for Unheard Voices writing programme (Royal Court) amongst others. Avaes Mohammad is a true alchemist-artist creating challenging, provocative work in response to a challenging, provocative world.
Masana is a child of the soil, hailing from the dusty North West. She finds inspiration in hiphop culture & African literature, writing about politics, language, identity & faith. Masana has performed at Capetown’s Touch of Madness, at the Carletonville Arts’ Festivals & Every Nation Campus Harvest, in Newtown’s old Horror Café, the Novos Nuros Theatre in Brazil, & the Bridgetown Community Centre in USA. She has also won the Yfm Upcoming Poet’s competition. In 2007, Masana founded the Empty Tin Can collective of artists who seek to be the change they want to see in the world, recently working with young women in Pollsmoor Prison & hosting readings with Theatre Arts Admin Collective. involving over 100 poets.
Emerging voice, Mbali Vilakazi is a Cape Town based poet, writer & performer, who traces her beginnings, as a patient journey through & within the heart of the city into herself. She contextualises herself as a Soul Activist, with the dream of a youth that rises to assume both its relevance & place.
Mbali Vilakazi is a child of the city by the sea, who came into being under the watchful eye of a silent mountain. She is Nona’s daughter, Mzamo’s sister & Avumile’s aunt. A woman who holds the gaze – the spectator in her own life. She hears voices, sees in the dark &, when she grows up, she wants to be Sade.