TS Eliot Prize-winner Roger Robinson performs poems from his brand-new Manchester Literature Festival commission around Black Lives Matter and chats to Malika Booker, who co-founded international writing collective Malika’s Poetry Kitchen with him in 2001.
Poet Roger Robinson’s commission sees him explore the idea of the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of the British experience and this will be the first time the new work has been performed.
Malika – a lecturer at Manchester Writing School and one of the judges of the Manchester Writing Competition (the poetry prize-winner was just named as James Pollock), and winner of the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – is appearing at the online StAnza Poetry Festival on Saturday 13 March; more here.
This is the first in a series of new commissions for MLF, supported by an award from the DCMS Culture Recovery Fund and presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester. The next is by Caleb Femi, airing on 8 April. Poet Roger Robinson’s commission sees him explore the idea of the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of the British experience and this will be the first time the new work has been performed.
Raymond Antrobus, appearing at this month’s Litfest beaming out of Lancaster, calls him “one of the most prominent voices in Caribbean-British poetry” and Roger Robinson is a celebrated poet, musician and activist who has performed around the world, touring extensively with the British Council.
His most recent collection, A Portable Paradise, was launched at an event at Tate Modern in 2019 and the Peepal Tree Press-published book was awarded the TS Eliot Prize 2019 at the Southbank Centre in January 2020 plus the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize 2020. A New Statesman book of the year, A Portable Paradise includes poems about the Grenfell disaster, post-Windrush Britain and fatherhood, and has been described, variously, as “heart-wrenching”, “generous” and “fervent”.
His first full poetry collection, The Butterfly Hotel, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2012 and shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize, and was highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has also published the poetry pamphlets Suitcase and Suckle, the latter winning the People’s Book Prize in 2009, along with a book of short fiction, Adventures in 3D.
An RSL Fellow, he was chosen by Decibel as one of fifty writers to have influenced the black-British writing canon. He is an alumnus of The Complete Works, co-founder of Spoke Lab and lead vocalist for King Midas Sound, and he has been commissioned by the National Trust, London Open House, BBC, the National Portrait Gallery, V&A, INIVA, MK Gallery and Theatre Royal Stratford East, where he also was associate artist.
This online MLF event will be pre-recorded and captioned, and broadcast at 7.30pm on Thursday 25 March. It will then be available to watch for another seven days (until 1 April).