Poets

Isabelle Baafi

Isabelle Baafi is a writer, poet and filmmaker from London. She received a BA in Comparative Literature and Film from the University of Kent. She was the winner of the 2019 Vincent Cooper Literary Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. She was also Commended in the 2020 Verve Poetry Competition. She is currently a member of the London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme (2019–20).

Her work has been featured in LammergeierpetrichorKalahari ReviewAllegroMoko MagazineAFREADALitro and Riggwelter Press; has been anthologised by Verve Poetry Press, Brittle Paper and The Caribbean Writer; and is forthcoming in MagmaFinished CreaturesScriptusAnthropoceneSister Uncut: ResistBroken Sleep Books, and The Poetry Review. To correspond with the publication of her poem 'hotboxing' in The Poetry Review, Isabelle wrote a 'Behind the Poem' essay that you can find on the Poetry Society's website, where you can also read the poem itself.

She has performed at numerous venues and festivals, including Westminster Reference Library, the Barbican, the Verve Poetry Festival, and the Battersea Arts Centre’s Homegrown Festival. She is currently working on her debut poetry collection.

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Lily Blacksell

Lily Blacksell is a British writer currently based in New York, where she is working towards a poetry MFA on Columbia University’s Writing Program and also has a Teaching Fellowship. Lily writes poems for the page and the stage. Her work has appeared in Rockland LitLifejacketInk Sweat & TearsPoet’s CountryFoothill and Magma Poetry. She has written reviews and interviews for Boston ReviewSabotage and Prac Crit and was herself interviewed by Columbia School of the Arts and Impakter.

Lily has performed her work at numerous venues, such as Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, Bowery Poetry Club, and Dead Rabbits (US), and Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Battersea Arts Centre (as part of Battersea Literature Festival), Howl, Word Up, and Boomerang (UK). In 2013, Apples and Snakes commissioned a piece of original spoken word theatre from Lily, which was performed at Lit Fuse, and in 2015 she was a finalist in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam.

Lily has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2017 and Best New Poets 2017.

You can read reviews of Lily's pamphlet on Sphinx, on the Oxford Writers' House website, and on Dundee University Review of the Arts website.

In this video, Lily reads Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, a poem from her pamphlet There's No Such Thing, published by ignitionpress (2018). Video recorded at the Society Cafe, Oxford, 8 March 2018, by David Bullock.

Katie Byford

Katie Byford is a poet and filmmaker from London. She has a BA in Classics from Durham University, where she received the Maltby Exhibition Prize for her dissertation on Sappho’s work as translated and interpreted by contemporary poets and artists. She regularly delivers guest lectures at Durham on the use of Greek and Roman sources in her poetry. Katie’s poem ‘Appetit, for Persephone’ placed first in the open category of the 2020 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition; her poem ‘Son, for Thetis’ was also shortlisted. She was part of the Barbican Young Poets from 2011 to 2014, and since then has worked extensively with the Barbican Centre, most recently delivering workshops and performing commissions for 2019 exhibitions AI: More than Human and Lee Krasner: Living Colour. Other commissions and performances include those at Durham Castle, the Wellcome Collection, Spread the Word and the Houses of Parliament. Her work has featured in MagmaPopshotModern Poetry in Translation and anthologies Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe Books) and She is Fierce: brave, bold & beautiful poems by women (Macmillan).

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Mary Jean Chan

Mary Jean Chan is a poet from Hong Kong. Her work has appeared in The 2018 Forward Book of PoetryThe Poetry ReviewPN ReviewAmbit MagazineThe RialtoThe London MagazineOxford PoetryCallaloo JournalThe ScoresBare Fiction MagazineTongue: A Journal of Writing & ArtThe Kindling and elsewhere. She has poetry forthcoming from Wasafiri MagazineMagma and EnglishJournal of the English Association (Oxford Academic).

In 2017, Mary Jean was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and won the Poetry Society Members' Competition and the Poetry and Psychoanalysis Competition. In 2016, she won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (ESL), and was shortlisted for the 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize, the 2016 Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition and the 2016 Resurgence Poetry Prize.

Mary Jean served as Vice-President of the Oxford University Poetry Society from 2014-2015, and attended poetry workshops at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oxford. She received the 2015 University of London MA Creative Writing Prize, and is currently a PhD candidate and Research Associate in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Mary Jean's article on Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric was recently published by The Journal of American Studies (2017). She is the winner of the 2017 PSA/Journal of Postcolonial Writing Postgraduate Essay Prize on Kei Miller's The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion.

Mary Jean is a Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry, and is represented by literary agent Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander Associates. Her most recent book is Fléche (Faber, 2019), winner of the Costa Poetry Prize 2019 and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

A Hurry of English was the Poetry Book Society's Pamphlet Choice for Summer 2018, and you can read reviews of the pamphlet on Sphinx (two reviews), Oxford Writers' House, Still Loud, Dundee University Review of the Arts, Harana Poetry, and in the Glasgow Review of Books.

In this video, Mary Jean reads Long Distance, a poem from her pamphlet A Hurry of English, published by ignitionpress (2018). Video recorded at the Society Cafe, Oxford, 8 March 2018, by David Bullock.

Michaela Coplen

Michaela Coplen is a poet and doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. She earned her BA from Vassar College, where she served as a poetry editor for the Vassar Review. She was appointed a National Student Poet by First Lady Michelle Obama, and has performed her poetry in venues including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and the White House. In 2018, Michaela was awarded a Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the UK. She completed her MPhil in International Relations at the University of Oxford in 2020, and has continued her studies as a DPhil candidate. Her poems have been published online with The Atlantic and Poets.org as well as in the Bellevue Literary Review. She won the 2019 Troubadour International Poetry Prize, the 2020 York Poetry Prize, and is included in Here: Poems for the Planet and the 2020 Best New Poets anthology.

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Patrick Errington

Patrick James Errington is a writer, translator, and researcher from the prairies of Alberta, Canada. As an undergrad at the University of Alberta (2007–2011), he studied English literature and creative writing with Nobel laureate Derek Walcott. He received his MFA from Columbia University (2013–2015) in creative writing and literary translation, where he also received a Program Scholarship and a Chair’s Fellowship.

He has worked as an editor or editorial assistant for magazines like The New Yorker and The Columbia Journal, and is currently the editor-in-chief of The Scores, an online literary magazine based at The University of St Andrews.

Patrick is currently a George Buchanan PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews and his research, under the supervision of Professors John Burnside and Don Paterson, is in the field of poetics and hermeneutics, examining cognitive metaphor, embodied/enactive mind theory, and postcritical response with particular regard to how readers are activated by and respond to contemporary poetry.

Patrick’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from: Boston ReviewCopper NickelPassages NorthOxford PoetryCV2The London MagazineLong Poem MagazineBest New Poets 2016The Iowa ReviewHorsethiefWest BranchThe Adroit JournalCider Press ReviewDIAGRAMAmerican Literary Review and others. He was also Commended in The National Poetry Competition 2016, and won, among others, The London Magazine Poetry Competition (2016) and the Wigtown Poetry Competition (2017).

Together with Laure Gall, Patrick also translated Au creux de la main (The Hollow of the Hand), by PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy (Paris: Éditions l’Âge d’Homme, 2017).

You can read reviews of Patrick's pamphlet on the Sphinx website and in the Dundee Review of the Arts. Patrick's poem 'Half-Measures' was also the subject of two of the winning entries in the Poetry Centre's first poetryfilm competition, and you can watch the films (by Gabrielle Turner and Marie Craven).

In this video, Patrick reads In the Event of Winter, a poem from his pamphlet Glean, published by ignitionpress (2018). Video recorded at the Society Cafe, Oxford, 8 March 2018, by David Bullock.

Daniel Fraser

Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have featured in: LA Review of BooksAeonAcumenAnthropocene PoetryX-R-A-Y, EntropyMuteThe London Magazine, and Dublin Review of Books among others. He was awarded 3rd Prize in The London Magazine 2019 Poetry Competition.

Daniel is a graduate of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) and has written widely on Karl Marx, Maurice Blanchot, and the work of Catherine Malabou. He is pursuing a PhD project on fragmentation and post-war European literature.

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Mia Kang

Mia Kang writes poems and other perversions. Named the 2017 winner of Boston Review’s Annual Poetry Contest by Mónica de la Torre, her writing has appeared in journals including POETRYWashington Square ReviewNarrative Magazine, and PEN America.

A Brooklyn Poets Fellow and runner-up for the 2019 and 2017 Discovery Poetry Contests, she is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets’ 2016 Catalina Páez and Seumas MacManus Award, among others. Mia is a PhD student in the history of art at Yale University, where she studies the contested rise of multiculturalism and its failures.

You can read a review of Mia's pamphlet, City Poems, on the Sphinx website here.

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Majella Kelly

Majella Kelly is an Irish writer from Tuam, Co. Galway. In 2019 she won the Strokestown International Poetry Competition. She was shortlisted for the Rialto Pamphlet Competition and the Listowel Poetry Collection Award. She was also shortlisted for the inaugural Brotherton Prize at Leeds University and her poems will be published by Carcanet in a Brotherton anthology alongside the winner and the other three shortlisted poets.

In 2018 she won the Ambit Poetry Prize, came second in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted by The Irish Times for a Hennessy Literary Award. In 2017 she was nominated by Crannóg for a Pushcart Prize and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. In 2016 she came third in the Resurgence Eco Poetry Prize (now the Ginkgo Prize). Her poetry and short fiction has been published in such places as The Irish TimesPoetry Ireland ReviewSouthwordAmbitThe Well ReviewCyphersThe Pickled BodyQuarrymanBest New British & Irish Poets 2017, and Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Annual 2017 and 2018. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.

Read a review of Majella's pamphlet, Hush, on the Sphinx website and another, by Sarah James, at The High Window.

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Joanna Ingham

Joanna Ingham grew up in Suffolk and now lives in Hertfordshire. Her work has been published in AmbitBrittle StarEnvoiThe Fenland ReedIotaLighthouseMagmaMslexiaThe North and Under the Radar. Her poems have also appeared in the anthology The Best British Poetry 2012 (Salt) and in 'Poet's Corner' in The Sunday Times. She won second prize in BBC Wildlife magazine's Wildlife Poet of the Year Competition 2008. She studied creative writing at Birkbeck College and was awarded the Michael Donaghy Prize for Poetry on graduating. In 2017 she was a poet-in-residence at London Open Garden Squares Weekend.

Joanna also writes fiction and is represented by Thérèse Coen of Hardman & Swainson. She has facilitated creative writing workshops in a wide variety of settings including schools, day-centres for older people, prisons, drop-in centres for homeless and vulnerable adults, and with young and adult carers.

Read two reviews of Joanna's pamphlet, Naming Bones, on the Sphinx website.

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Alycia Pirmohamed

Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet currently living in Scotland. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, where she is studying figurative homelands in poetry written by second-generation immigrant writers of South Asian descent. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. In 2018, Alycia’s chapbook Faces that Fled the Wind was selected by Camille Rankine for the BOAAT Press Chapbook Prize. Her other awards include the 92/Y Discovery Poetry Contest, the Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest in Poetry, the Adroit Journal’s Djanikian Scholars program, and the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications internationally, including The Paris Review DailyPrairie SchoonerBest Canadian PoetryGutter Magazine, and The London Magazine, among others.

Alycia is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology They Rise Like A Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets, co-founder of The Scottish BAME Writers Network, and a submission reader for Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She has received support from The Royal Society of Literature, and from Calgary Arts Development via The City of Calgary.

Alycia's pamphlet, Hinge, was placed second in the 2020 Michael Marks Poetry Award and was the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice for Summer 2020. You can read a review of the pamphlet on the Sphinx website.

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Jacob Ramírez

Jacob Ramírez is a poet, educator, and visual artist from California. He is the recipient of Lancaster University’s Portfolio Prize where he earned his Creative Writing MA with distinction. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Cloverse - a literary magazine celebrating Sonoma County’s teen poetry in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. His poetry appears in various publications, among them, Haymarket Books’ The Breakbeat Poets - LatiNEXT, 2021’s Latino Book Review Magazine, The Indianapolis Review, and The Santa Fe Writers Project. Jacob is pursuing his PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. His poetry project, tentatively titled 'The Men We Bury', investigates heteronormative and machismo culture in Latinx diasporic communities through lenses of dual-identity, fatherhood, and American roots music. His first full-length collection is currently in progress. He teaches literature in California where he lives with his wife and two children.

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Zein Sa'dedin

Zein Sa'dedin is a poet, editor, and educator from and currently based in Amman, Jordan. She is the founding editor-in-chief of BAHR // بحر - an online literary and creative platform dedicated to championing writers and artists from SWANA in all their languages. Zein holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews and a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She currently teaches English language as well as the occasional writing workshop. Zein is also working to establish a bilingual literary journal from, within, and for SWANA and the Levant. Her poem, ‘the sea is the most flexible of things,’ was the recipient of the 2019 Third Coast Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in harana poetryThe Shuruq FestivalZarf PoetryThird Coast MagazineCordite Poetry ReviewMuzzle MagazineWinter TangerineSukoon MagazineJaffat el Aqlam, and others.

Official website @zeinsadedin @zeinsadd

Sarah Shapiro

Sarah Shapiro was born in Chicago and lives in Somerville, MA. She is a poetry MFA candidate at University of Massachusetts Boston. Sarah also holds an MA in Place, Environment, and Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London, and a BA in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College. Sarah’s academic career was not a guarantee; she grew up with learning (dys)abilities and did not begin to read until the age of eight. Now, her poems for this project explore the gap between those who read with ease and those who struggle to read.

Sarah believes that as many people as possible should have access to reading and writing poetry. She teaches university analysis and writing at Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Boston, undergraduate writing and the environment at UMass Boston, and an itinerant writing workshop at the Osher Longlife Institute for adult education at UMass Boston. She has completed a residency with Cove Park, and has an audio-text poem forthcoming in TIMBER. Her poems have also appeared in glitterMOBShe GrrrowlsBunbury, and Poetica Magazine.

You can read a review of Sarah's pamphlet, The Bullshit Cosmos, on the Sphinx website.

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Jennifer Lee Tsai

Jennifer Lee Tsai is a poet, editor and critic. She was born in Bebington and grew up in Liverpool. She completed undergraduate studies in English Language and Literature at the University of St Andrews and also holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) with Distinction from the University of Manchester.

Jennifer is a fellow of the nationally acclaimed poetry development programme The Complete Works III which was founded by the writer and activist, Bernardine Evaristo. In 2017, Jennifer was selected as a Ledbury Poetry Critic. She was a runner-up in the 2018 inaugural Bi’an Awards in Poetry.

Her poems are published in numerous magazines and journals including AmbitMagmaOxford PoetryThe RialtoSoundingsSMOKEWild Court and featured in the anthologies Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe: 2017) and Islands Are But Mountains: New Poetry from the UK (Platypus Press, 2019).

As a poetry critic, her reviews are published by The Poetry School, and in the Poetry Book Society BulletinModern Poetry In TranslationAmbit and The Poetry Review.

Jennifer is an Associate Editor of SMOKE magazine and a Contributing Editor to Ambit.

She has worked extensively as a teacher and lecturer of English as a Foreign Language in universities, colleges and community settings in the UK and abroad, and has also regularly led creative writing workshops across the country.

Currently, she is an AHRC-funded PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool.

You can read reviews of Jennifer’s pamphlet Kismet in The Poetry Review, on the Sphinx website, and in the journal, Mediapart.

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Kostya Tsolakis

Kostya Tsolakis is a London-based poet and journalist, born and raised in Athens, Greece. A Warwick Writing Programme graduate, his poems have appeared in MagmaEnvoiperverseStrix and Wasafiri, among others, and his translations have featured in Modern Poetry in Translation.

In 2019, his poem ‘Photographs’ won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (EAL category). In 2017, he was shortlisted for the Primers mentoring and publication scheme, run by the Poetry School UK and Nine Arches Press. He founded and co-edits harana poetry, the online magazine for poets writing in English as a second or parallel language, and is poetry co-editor at Ambit.

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Natalie Whittaker

Natalie Whittaker is from South East London, where she works as a secondary school teacher. She studied English at New College, Oxford.

Her poems have been published in Poetry NewsBrittle StarAesthetica Creative Writing Annual#MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology and South Bank Poetry.

Natalie was awarded second place in the Poetry on the Lake short poem competition 2018 and the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2017.

You can read reviews of Natalie's pamphlet on the Poetry School website and on the Sphinx website. Natalie's poem 'Moss' was the subject of one of the prizewinning poetryfilms in the inaugural competition run by the Poetry Centre. 

Watch the film by Jane Glennie

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Fathima Zahra

Fathima Zahra is an Indian poet based in Essex. She is a Barbican Young Poet and a Roundhouse Poetry Collective alum. She has won the Bridport Prize, the Wells Fest Young Poets Prize and the Asia House Poetry Slam 2019. Her work has been published or are forthcoming in Tentacular Magazine and Khidr Zine; has been anthologised in SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This (Pan Macmillan, 2020), A Letter, A Poem, A Home (Red River Press, 2020). She been featured across BBC World News, The New Indian Express and Young Poets Network. Commissions include Poet in the City, Adrian Brinkerhoff Foundation and Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. She has performed at various festivals including Hay, Latitude, VERVE poetry festival, The Last Word and Brainchild. She is currently completing her MA in Creative Writing and Education at Goldsmiths University of London.

Photo credit: Abi Bansal

Official website @Zeeforzahra

Belinda Zhawi

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator. She is an alumnus of the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she studied on the BA in Politics and the Writer/Teacher MA, respectively.

She was a 2015/16 London Laureate and the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet.

Belinda is co-founder of BORN::FREE – a community-based literary movement and zine press. She currently lives and works in South East London.

Read reviews of Small Inheritances on the Poetry School website, on the Sphinx website, and on Harana Poetry.

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