Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy headlines this special evening of spoken word and performance poetry, featuring a diverse lineup of artists with an eclectic range of styles and voices that cross many cultures.

The evening is inspired by traditional mehfils; gatherings of courtly entertainment in South Asia performed for small audiences in the homes and palaces of Muslim nobility.  It is also in the style of tapas dining; a chance to experience bite-sized portions of work from different voices and to experience new and unfamiliar poetic flavours in a cosy, intimate setting.

Joining Carol Ann Duffy in the stellar line-up are poet, artist and film maker Imtiaz Dharker, who was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014; translator, artist and editor Sudeep Sen, recognised as one of India’s finest younger poets; former Canal Laureate Jo Bell whose recent online project led to the best selling book ‘52: Write a Poem a Week’; writer, performer and the third young Poet Laureate of London, Selina Nwulu; and writer and performer Avaes Mohammad, whose influences range from the Sufi saints of South Asia to Dub Poets of Jamaica. Rehana Roohi is one of Pakistan’s foremost contemporary poets; she uses the ghazal poetic form and recites her poetry in the traditional, melodious tarannum style. Our host for this unmissable evening is the founding member of highly acclaimed spoken word collective A Firm of Poets, Ralph Dartford.

About The Poets

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow,grew up in Stafford, and attended the University of Liverpool,. She has written for both children and adults, and her poetry has received many awards, including the Whitbread and Forward Prizes, as well as the E. M. Forster Prize in America. In 2009, she became Poet Laureate.

Photograph: Michael Woods

Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker. Awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014, her six collections include Over the Moon and her latest, Luck Is the Hook. Her poems have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as well as the BBC World Service.


Sudeep Sen

Sudeep Sen is a poet, translator, artist and editor, recognised as one of India’s finest younger poets. He has published more than a dozen collections of poetry including ‘Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems’, ‘Distracted Geographies’, ‘Lines of Desire’ and ‘Aria’ which won the A.K. Ramanujan Translation Award. His new collection ‘Erotext: Desire, Disease, Delusion, Dream, Downpour’ is out now.

Jo Bell

Jo Bell is a poet and builder of online projects including 52, which led to the bestselling book 52: Write a Poem a Week. Former director of National Poetry Day UK, she is a Charles Causley Prize winner and has a Saboteur Award for the 52 project. In 2015 she received an honorary doctorate for services to poetry. Her latest collection is Kith.

Selina Nwulu

Selina Nwulu is a writer, poet and performer and the third Young Poet Laureate of London. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies including collections by the RSA, Lunar Poetry and Emma Press. Her first chapbook collection, ‘The Secrets I Let Slip’, was published by Burning Eye Books in September 2015. She has also performed at Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe and Fiery Tongues Festival in Ruigoord, Holland.

Avaes Mohammad

Writer and performer Avaes Mohammad regularly engages with themes of science, the socio-political and spirituality. With an upbringing that reverberated with words from the Sufi Saints of South Asia as much as the Dub Poets of Jamaica, his influences have left a permanent hue from which he experiences the sacred and profane alike.


Rehana Roohi

Rehana Roohi is one of Pakistan’s most popular contemporary poets. She uses the ghazal poetic form and recites her poetry in the traditional, melodious tarannum style.

Ralph Dartford

Ralph Dartford is the author of Cigarettes, Beer and Love (Ossett Observer Presents 2013) and Recovery Songs (Valley Press 2019). His forthcoming third collection, Serotonin Songs will be published by Valley Press in 2021. Ralph is writer and tutor who mainly works with people who are in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. His spoken word performance show, Recovery Songs continues to tour nationally.