Words of Colour and Manchester Poetry Library Collaborate to Offer New Incubator for Poets of Colour

22 June 2023 - News
Emerging poets of colour from the North of England to be supported in new mentoring programme, where professionals including award-winning poet Malika Booker will advise to support and nurture them.

The Poets of Colour Incubator will offer creative development to emerging and unpublished poets of colour based in the North of England, led by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Manchester Poetry Library and Words of Colour.

The Poets of Colour Incubator is a 12-month programme providing vital support to emerging poets of colour to develop dynamic new work that allows them to share their own experiences and authentic selves through poetry – and to build sustainable careers.

Funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, the three successful poets will receive a £6,000 Creative Action Bursary to innovate their practice and create vibrant new work in response to a global challenge of their choice.

Starting in September, the programme will give poets access to advice and support from a team of professional mentors and masterclasses, as well as the opportunity to test and develop their work, and co-produce a live end-of-project showcase, supported by venue partners.

Five shortlisted poets will also receive professional guidance and career signposting, as well as being part of a community of practice.

Joy Francis is the Executive Director of Words of Colour, which creates alternative pathways and sustainable opportunities for writers, creatives, entrepreneurs and communities of colour to thrive.

“There are enduring gaps facing poets of colour due to a colonial legacy and racial inequity which undermines their ability to have sustainable careers and the confidence to develop work that speaks to their lived experience and authentic selves. The incubator will help us amplify Northern-based poets of colour’s presence to counter the London-centric poetry narrative and increase their contribution to the poetry canon.” – Joy, co-lead on the Poets of Colour Incubator programme

“We’re excited to be collaborating with Words of Colour on such a fantastic new programme that will offer valuable support to talented and emerging poets of colour from the North. We know from research and experience that mentoring and support for talented poets of colour early in their career can be critical to enabling the development of creative work in a supportive environment.” – Becky Swain, Director of Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University

Award-winning poet, writer and multi-disciplinary artist Malika Booker, also creative writing lecturer at Manchester Met will be part of the incubator’s selection panel. Once the programme begins, Booker will also take on the role of programme adviser, alongside award-winning poet Kit Fan, to help nurture and inspire the poets. Booker said:

“I’m honoured to be playing a role in this programme helping to nurture and support the chosen northern poets, as a part of the Incubator’s selection panel and most importantly as one of the project advisors alongside Kit Fan. It will enable me to bring my considerable knowledge from running Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and being a part of The Complete Works, initiatives that have supported writers of colours’ development and made a big difference to the literary sector.”

The poets will be supported by a team of professional mentors led by writer, educator and TS Eliot Prize winning poet Roger Robinson. Masterclasses will be led by poet, theatremaker and educator Nick Makoha; poet, resilience and success coach Shamshad Khan; and British Sign Language interpreter and digital access specialist Nakisayi Musungwa. Tailored mentorship will be provided by incubator project manager Joy Francis and creative wellbeing specialist Suzanne Lyn-Cook.

Mentoring support and masterclasses will focus on a range of topics including developing a creative wellbeing toolkit, creative entrepreneurship to diversify your career, poetry, resilience and change agency, interrogating your craft and performance, and digital inclusion for live events.

Working in partnership with Contact Theatre, HOME, Manchester UNESCO City of Literature and New Writing North, the poets will have an opportunity to develop ideas in response to global challenges through Incubator drop-ins and scratch performances where they will test their new work on audiences, as well as co-produce an end of project showcase featuring their new work.

The Poets of Colour Incubator Programme is open to applications until 5pm on July 24, 2023.

More details about the project, eligibility criteria and application process can be found on the Poets of Colour Incubator Programme website.