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21 June 2022
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
All ages welcome
Manchester Poetry Library
For Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Spoken Word Club, there is one phrase that reigns supreme: “Respect the Mic”; the club’s call to arms since its inception in 1999. As the club’s founder Peter Kahn says, “It’s a call of pride and history and tradition and hope.”
There will be readings from Peter Kahn himself and, in celebration of the power of the writing workshop, we have invited some of the UK’s best poets and educators of poetry: Keith Jarrett, Malika Booker, and Keisha Thompson.
Find out more about the poets…
Peter Kahn is a high school English teacher based in Chicago, who runs the largest school-based Spoken Word programme in the world. A founding member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, he has twice been a commended poet in the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition. He edited – with Hanif Abdurraqib, Franny Choi and former student Dan “Sully” Sullivan – ‘Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School’. His debut collection, Little Kings, is published by Nine Arches Press. National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes writes, “Peter Kahn is the kind of reader of poetry, teacher of poetry, and poet who makes the world easier for othe readers, teachers and poets.”
Malika Booker is a poetry lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, a British poet of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage and co-founder of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. Her pamphlet Breadfruit (flippedeye, 2007) received a Poetry Society recommendation and her poetry collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre 2014 Prize for First Full Collection. Her poem Nine Nights, first published in The Poetry Review in autumn 2016, was shortlisted for Best Single Poem in the 2017 Forward Prize. Booker currently hosts and curates Peepal Tree Press’s Literary podcast, New Caribbean Voices. A Cave Canem Fellow, and inaugural Poet in Residence at The Royal Shakespeare Company, Malika was awarded the Cholmondeley Award (2019) for outstanding contribution to poetry.
Keisha Thompson is a Manchester based writer, performance artist and producer. Keisha has recently been appointed as the Artistic Director/CEO of Contact Theatre, Manchester. She is also the chair of radical arts funding body, Future’s Venture Foundation, a MOBO x London Theatre Consortium Fellow and a member of Greater Manchester Cultural and Heritage Group, and recipient of The Arts Foundation Theatre Makers Award 2021. Keisha’s first book Lunar was published by Commonword and received acclaim for using the language of mathematics, logic and science to explore the Black British experience, masculinity and mental health. Lunar presents a series of poems alongside the script of Man on the Moon, her award winning solo show. Keisha has written and performed nationally and internationally and has opened for Kae Tempest, Saul Williams and Amiri Baraka.
Keith Jarrett is a London-based poet, performer, writer, educator, and international poetry slam champion. He was selected for the International Literary Showcase as one of the 10 most outstanding LGBTQ+ writers in the UK. As a UK and International Slam winner, Keith’s work includes two books of poetry and multiple commissions, from the British Museum to Heritage England, with bilingual performances in Bilbao and Madrid, and British Council trips to Uganda, India and Brazil. His short fiction essays have been widely anthologised. Keith’s poem, ‘From the Log Book’, was projected onto St. Paul’s Cathedral, as a WW2 commemorative installation. His play, Safest Spot in Town, was filmed for BBC Four’s ‘Queers’ series and performed at the Old Vic. He was a PhD scholar at Birkbeck University, where he now teaches.
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