A poetry revue with a finely honed political edge. Our lineup is multi-talented, featuring musician, songwriter and comedian John Hegley, author and magician Nick Toczek, artist and spoken word performer Asma Elbadawi, writer and artist Jay Bernard, young poet laureate for London Selina Nwulu, journalist Atif Tauqeer and host (and co-founder of A Firm of Poets) Ralph Dartford. All master poets, all with their own distinctive voices and preoccupations, but with one thing in common: a keen awareness of what’s going on out in the world and a fierce desire to call it out.

It’s poetry with a punch, not a caress, so expect to be confronted with punk spirit, passionate verse and lyrical dexterity across a night of diverse performances as these unique poets take on the big political issues and themes that will challenge, entertain and jolt you upright in your seat.

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About The Poets

Jay Bernard

Jay Bernard is the recipient of a Foyle Young Poet award (2005). She was the inaugural 2012 writer-in-residence at the Arts House and National University of Singapore and 2013 City Read young writer-in-residence at London Metropolitan Archives. Her second book, ‘English Breakfast’, appeared in 2013. In her own words: ‘I am interested in graphic/public art, film, literature, technology, cyber-feminism, queerness and impending doom(s).’

Asma Elbadawi

Born in Sudan and raised in England, Asma’s dual heritage deeply influences her creativity, paired with a focus on international development and female empowerment. Published work includes the Muslim women’s anthology ‘The Things I Would Tell You’. Performances include: Liverpool Acoustic Festival, Word of Mouth, London as well as Sudan and Malaysia.

John Hegley

John Hegley has performed his words sung and spoken in just about every live setting you can imagine: from schools to prisons, the British Library to Glastonbury Festival. He has produced more than 10 books of verse and prose pieces, two CDs and one mug, creating material about dog hair, potatoes and handkerchiefs in a philosophical framework. He is an occasional dancer on stage and page, is a heavily published author and an urgent ukulele player.

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.

Nick Toczek

Nick Toczek is a writer and performer from Bradford. Throughout the 1970s and 80s he toured with bands and as a poet, and ran both music and poetry clubs in Yorkshire, becoming an integral part of the Ranting scene. Since the mid-90s Nick has been a best-selling children’s writer. He is also a professional close-up magician, a skilled puppeteer, a prolific print journalist and an experienced broadcaster.

Photo by Gaynor Toczek

Ralph Dartford

Ralph Dartford studied poetry at Birkbeck College, London under the tutelage of Michael Donaghy. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Pulp Faction, Stirring (US), WordLife and London Territories amongst many other publications. His first volume of poetry, Cigarettes, Beer and Love received wide acclaim, and his second, Dirty Needle Rain will be published in 2019.

Contributor

Atif Tauqeer

Atif Tauqeer is a journalist working with Deutsche Welle Radio. His Urdu poetry, which has been published in several collections, is often charged with frustration at the political situation in his home country of Pakistan. He is currently working on his first English novel.