Summary: Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow
I am the recipient of a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellowship from 2015-17, based in the School of English. My first collection of poetry, Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was longlisted for the OCM BOCAS 2014 prize and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for first full collection. This fellowship enables me to complete: the final edits of my second manuscript, Bread of Redemption (due to be published in 2017) an ekphrasis project placing the Caribbean language and geography into the Biblical landscape (King James Bible), as well as conduct research among the Caribbean community in Chapeltown about their funeral practices and traditions. The research will be used to create my third poetry collection as well as develop an interactive theatre piece. I will also be working on my own creative projects ranging from workshops, readings, mentoring writers, collaborative multidisciplinary projects and talks at both the University and in creative institutions in Leeds.
I am the recipient of residencies from Millay Colony, Cove Park, The India International Centre and The Centre of Slovenian Literature. I have also been a fellow of both The Complete Works and Cave Canem and was the inaugural Poet in Residence at Royal Shakespeare Company.
My pamphlet Breadfruit (flippedeye, 2007) was recommended by The Poetry Book Society and my poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary journals including: Poetry Wales, Poetry Review, The Penguin Anthology of Black British Writing, and Bittersweet Contemporary Black Woman's Poetry. I have represented British writing Internationally, both independently and with the British Council in Slovenia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Russia, and Azerbaijan and was Hampton Court Palace's Writer in Residence in 2004.
I am the founder of Malika's Poetry Kitchen, a writers' collective based in London which offers beginning and emerging poets weekly surgeries to develop their craft, through community building and peer mentoring and am the recipient of an MA in Creative Writing from the University of London, Goldsmiths.
My first stage solo theatre show Absolution was commissioned by The Austrian Cultural Institute and Apples & Snakes and enjoyed a three-week run at Battersea Arts Centre. My first musical play Catwalk, commissioned by Nitro ran at the Tricycle Theatre in 2001 and had a successful UK tour. I was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to create Bloodlines in July 2005, and in August, to create Scattered Experiences on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, as part of their Travel Stories series. My one-woman show Unplanned, which explores issues around women's fertility, cultural and gender identities, was produced by Apples and Snakes - directed by Rachel Mars and toured nationwide in 2007. Sewing & Stories was an immersive and participatory theatre piece developed from a joint commission by Battersea Arts Centre and Entelechy Elders Theatre Company to collaborate with an older Jamaican woman Joan and create an intergenerational interactive performance in 2012.
I am a writer who pushes the boundaries of what literature, theatre and collaborative art can do in the wider world I feel that the art of writing can be a transformative act. I write work that is visceral on the page and the stage in order to incite an interactive engagement with my audience. My work is often concerned with writing about the taboo and the unspoken spaces that marginalised women occupy in the political landscape. The poetry/ theatre uses autobiographical, biblical /religious, anthropological, cultural and social beliefs and practises in order to be redemptive whilst challenging the judgements of a patriarchal society particularly with regards to women in the Caribbean Diaspora.