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Overcoming racial inequity - 'incubating' poets of colour

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The Poets of Colour Incubator, a collaboration between Words of Colour and Manchester Poetry Library, will provide support for talented poets of colour to build sustainable careers amid racial inequity.

Three successful Incubator poets will each receive a £6,000 Creative Action Bursary to innovate their practice and create dynamic new work in ‘poetic response’ to a global challenge they want to explore. Five more shortlisted poets will receive career signposting, professional guidance and be part of a community of practice.

Poets Kit Fan and Malika Booker (pictured) will be part of the Incubator’s selection panel, helping to advise and support the poets.

Starting in September 2023, the three Incubator poets will have creative wellbeing and creative entrepreneurship mentoring, masterclasses and support, to help them test, develop and perform their poetry through artistic co-production. Poets will also work with the public on idea development, involving performances, and  a live, end of programme showcase.

Joy Francis, Words of Colour’s executive director and the Poets of Colour Incubator co-lead, said: “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.”

Becky Swain, Director, Manchester Poetry Library, and the Poets of Colour Incubator co-lead added: " 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. We’re looking forward to welcoming the three Incubator poets onto the programme, as well as supporting five shortlisted poets.”

Funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, the Incubator is supported by partners Contact, HOME, Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, and New Writing North.

TS Eliot Prize winning poet Roger Robinson will be the Incubator’s professional mentor, with masterclasses led by Brunel International African Poetry Prize winner Nick Makoha; poet and success coach Shamshad Khan; BSL interpreter and digital access specialist Nakisayi Musungwa, and change agent specialist Suzanne Lyn-Cook.

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

Programme details are on the Poets of Colour Incubator Programme website 


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M.C. Newberry

Wed 19th Jul 2023 15:03

I'm uncertain whether ongoing emphasis on differences of race
and claims of "inequality" serve to promote progress in ease of integration in society. How long should this be expected to
exist if unity and acceptance are the desired aims? Or will this
still be around in the lives of our children and their children's
children? Talented poets and "careers"? With rare exceptions,
these are arguably incompatible in today's world, with its
emphasis on the "fad and fashion" in creative endeavours.
Fine poets of the past - household names - self-published
or even refused a publisher's royalties (A.E. Houseman was among the latter). Find your audience as best you can and
let your creative ability find its level in its realisation and
the personal satisfaction it provides. Look at the work seen
on WOL to find talent across the spectrum of poetical
creativity that contributes without high-flying expectations
or hope of financial reward, let alone a "career" in poetry.

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