Poets of Colour Incubator programme announces successful candidates

13 September 2023 - News
First for North of England as inaugural cohort of emerging poets of colour is selected.

A pioneering project to support emerging poets of colour in Northern England has announced its first ever cohort of successful applicants – with artificial intelligence, trauma, and the notion of home just some of the issues to be explored poetically.

Poets of Colour Incubator candidates Princess Arinola Adegbite, Jeremy Pak Nelson and Ilisha Thiru Purcell will take part in a unique 12-month mentoring programme giving them support to create dynamic new work inspired by their personal experiences.


A collaboration between Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Met and change agency Words of Colour, the Incubator will help the trio develop their ideas on diaspora, home and the weaponising of the term migrant, artificial intelligence’s influence on human perception, and trauma survivors’ relationship with sleep.

Funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme,  each poet will receive mentoring, support and a £6,000 Creative Action Bursary to explore, develop and research their ideas. Award-winning poet Malika Booker, also creative writing lecturer at Manchester Met, will act as programme advisor, alongside fellow acclaimed poets Kit Fan, Shamshad Khan, Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson.

The mentors will support, nurture and inspire the poets, who will also have access to expertise in creative entrepreneurship, creative wellbeing and digital inclusion, helping them to build sustainable careers.

Incubator poet Princess Arinola Adegbite, a poet, performance artist, filmmaker and musician from Salford, said: “I feel genuinely honoured to be selected. I want the programme to give me space to experiment, develop new work and take time to invest in my goals as an artist. I plan to explore artificial intelligence and technology’s influence on human perception, reality and relationships through poetry and conceptual art instructions.”

Fellow Incubator poet Jeremy Pak Nelson, a writer and artist from Hong Kong who is based in Manchester, said: “I’m thrilled to be part of this inaugural cohort. My focus is on the diaspora experience and the notion of home. The opportunities the Incubator provides for discussion with the wider public will be important for learning how we can reopen or reframe conversations that so easily become bogged down in the language of social media and political messaging.”

Ilisha Thiru Purcell, a poet based in and from Newcastle upon Tyne, added: “I am so excited to be part of the Incubator. I was drawn to its unique focus on creative wellbeing so I can develop holistically while learning with and from others. In my project I want to explore sleep, dreams and nightmares from the perspective of trauma survivors to create new poetic forms based on the mechanisms of sleep.”


In addition to the three main Incubator poets, the programme’s selection panel chose five of the shortlisted candidates to be part of an Incubator Collective.  They will receive career signposting, professional guidance and space to build a community of practice. The Incubator Collective poets are Nasima Begum (aka Nasima Bee), Chloe Elliott, Ruby-Ann Patterson, Yorusa and Elkana Wilder.

Joy Francis, Words of Colour’s Executive Director and the Poets of Colour Incubator Co-Lead, said: “Our three inaugural Incubator poets and five Incubator Collective poets reflect the talent in the North of England and show the need for more inclusive programmes that provide space for contemporary and radical poetic ideas to breathe, flourish and reach their audiences. I’m excited about collaborating with them to explore how best to nurture their creative wellbeing and change agency to take their ideas and craft forward.”

Supported by partners, including Contact, HOME, Manchester City of Literature and New Writing North, each Incubator poet will have the chance to work with students, staff and different communities in the North of England on ideas development through Incubator drop-ins and scratch performances. The Incubator programme will culminate in an end of programme showcase next Autumn.