Speakers at Lit Must Fall Birmingham 2019
Talha Ahsan is a private tutor in classical Arabic and a freelance translator. He recently completed MA History at SOAS with his dissertation on the poetry and numismatics of the Azraqite-Kharijite leader, Qaṭarī b. al-Fujā`ah (d. c.699CE). Between 2006-2014, he was imprisoned without trial as part of the War on Terror and then extradited to solitary confinement at a US death row prison. His family campaign, http://FreeTalha.com , was shortlisted for Liberty's human rights award in 2013. His poetry collection, Grieving and other poems, received two prizes at the Koestler awards in 2012 for collection and best individual poem. Learn more at http://TalhaAhsan.com
Phoenix Alexander is the Science Fiction Collections Librarian at the University of Liverpool's Special Collections and Archives division. He recently completed his PhD in the departments of English and African American Studies at Yale University, where he worked as a curatorial assistant at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. A scholar and writer of science fiction himself, his work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Black Static, Safundi: the Journal of South African and American Studies, and Science Fiction Studies. @dracopoullos
Sita Balani is a lecturer in contemporary literature and culture at King's College London. In her research and teaching, she explores the relationship between imperialism and identity in contemporary Britain. Her writing has appeared in Discover Society, Feminist Review, the Hythe, Identity Theory, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Open Democracy, Novara Media, the Verso blog and VICE. She lives in South East London.
Siana Bangura is a writer, producer, performer and community organiser hailing from South East London, now living, working, and creating between London and the West Midlands. She is the founder and former editor of Black British Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL; she is the author of poetry collection, ‘Elephant’; and the producer of ‘1500 & Counting’, a documentary film investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK. Siana works and campaigns on issues of race, class, and gender and their intersections and is currently working on projects focusing on climate change, the arms trade, and state violence. @Sianaarrgh
Lerah Mae Barcenilla
Born in Manila, Philippines, Lerah Mae Barcenilla grew up in a small province full of magic, tradition and superstition. She writes about the fallibility of memory, forgotten mythology, the state of duality and magic. She particularly enjoys breaking apart narrative structures and exploring how words exist on and outside of the page. She is a member of the Writing West Midlands Room 204 Programme (2017/18) and the inaugural cohort of the Hippodrome Young Poets (2019). She is currently writing an alternative history science fiction and fantasy inspired by Philippine mythology and folklore. @l_erah
Hafsah Aneela Bashir
Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a writer, playwright and performance poet based in Manchester. She is founder and co-director of Outside The Frame Arts, a collective platforming voices outside the mainstream. Her debut poetry collection, The Celox and the Clot, was published by Burning Eye Books last year. Formerly a TOAST16 poet, her one woman shows debuted at PUSH Festival this year and she is currently The Royal Exchange Manchester’s Supported Artist. She is also Longsight’s Writer In Residence with Manchester Literature Festival, a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ on the Artistic Director’s Leadership Programme and is one of three poets awarded the prestigious Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship this year. She blogs at http://hafsahaneelabashir.wordpress.com @Hafsah_A_Bashir & @artsOTF.
Kavita Bhanot wrote the landmark essay 'Decolonise, Not Diversify'. Her fiction, non-fiction and reviews have been published and broadcast widely. She is editor of the anthologies Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press 2011) and the Book of Birmingham (Comma Press, 2018) and co-editor of the Bare Lit anthology (Brain Mill Press, 2017). She is currently a Leverhulme Fellow at Leicester University, where she is also a Creative Writing Fellow. She has been reading and mentoring for TLC for the last eight years. Her first novel won third prize in the SI Leeds Literary Prize. She lives in Birmingham
Corey Brotherson is an award-winning writer, editor and creative consultant who has scribed over a dozen comic book stories since 2005, including women-focused sci-fi anthology Deadlier Than…, and the critically acclaimed ongoing graphic novel series, Magic of Myths (with artist Sergio Calvet). He has worked in the videogames industry since 2001 as a journalist and content producer for over a dozen companies, including Sony PlayStation and Eurogamer, is the adapting writer and line-editor for Yomi Ayeni’s award-winning, non-colonial steampunk series Clockwork Watch, and is currently co-writing Windrush Tales, a branching narrative videogame co-created with decorated writer and journalist Chella Ramanan. @CoreyBrotherson
Roseanne Chantiluke was an organising member of the Rhodes Must fall in Oxford movement. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Francophone African and Caribbean literature at the University of Oxford. Since 2016, Roseanne has worked with schools across London and the North West of England in order to develop enrichment programs in ‘realising aspirations’, multilingualism additional language acquisition. She is currently a strategist for Oxford University’s Outreach Solutions team, specialising in teacher engagement through language-based enrichment programs.
Sharmila Chauhan is a playwright, screenwriter, and prose writer. Her work is often a transgressive meditation on love, sex and the diasporic experience. Her plays include: Be Better in Bed, The Husbands (Soho Theatre), Born Again/Purnajanam (Southwark) and 10 Women (Avignon Festival): all place women centre stage and explore power and femininity. Sharmila has had two short films (Girl Like You, Oysters) produced (Film London) and written two features: Her debut feature Mother Land – is currently being developed by Cinestan International and was long-listed for the Sundance Writers’ Lab. She lives in London with her husband, son and daughter and cat Tashi.
Darren Chetty is a teacher, writer and researcher. He has published academic work on philosophy, education, racism, children’s literature and hip-hop culture. He is a contributor to the The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound 2016). Darren is co-author, with Jeffrey Boakye of What Is Masculinity? Why Does It Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland 2019). He coedited, with Judith Suissa, Critical Philosophy of Race and Education (Routledge 2019) and co-wrote, with Adam Ferner, How to Disagree: Negotiate Difference in a Divided World (Quarto 2019). Darren has advised on the CLPE Reflecting Realities report and the Carnegie Kate Greenaway Award Diversity and Inclusion panel. A regular judge for children’s literature awards, he writes, with Karen Sands O’Connor, Beyond the Secret Garden, a column for Books for Keeps on the representation of ‘Black Asian and Minority Ethnic’ people in children’s literature. @rapclassroom
Jayprakash Faqir; after completing his Bachelor of Technology he joined the railways, then bureaucracy. Literature was his passion and he did put it on a pedestal, but after his teens, he found it as mundane as his own existence. A bibliophile from childhood, he read whatever he found cheaper to buy; mainly Russian literature. He finished reading almost all of Tolostoy, Gorky, Chekhov, Pushkin, Turgnev, Dostovosky before he was legally eligible to marry in India. When he got a job and started earning, he began reading world literature. His propensity for learning different languages led him to read Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Himachali and Bengali literature, besides English literatures of various geographies and taxonomy. Faqir mainly explored Urdu literature and found it problematic - casteist and patriarchal. He started writing about it in 2001. Now his main focus is exploring subalterns like Pasmanda Muslims, Lowered Castes and Women as signifiers and carriers of meaning for upper castes in various literatures.
Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham, UK. She has featured at poetry nights around the UK and was invited as a performer at TEDxBrum 2016 (Power of Us). Nafeesa is published in The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology publication by Saqi Books, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She is also published in the Women Anthology with Mud Press (2017). She is a BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam finalist (2018). Her debut collection ‘Besharam’ (2018) is available to purchase from Verve Poetry Press, and was highly commended for the Forward Prize 2020. She will be published in the Forward Book of Poetry 2020. @NafeesaHamid
Aliyah Hasinah is a curator, writer, producer and aspiring historian/filmmaker. Her most recent projects include Bald Black Girl's exhibition, The Past Is Now exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Apples and Snakes Poetic Theatre Makers Programme, SBTV Custard Factory Pop up, TEDxBrum 2017 and more. Aliyah is part of art against the grain collective and Birmingham podcast ‘Who Got the Juice?’. Aliyah focuses her work on decolonial thought in practice and developing decolonial curatorial practice. She has worked with the V&A, Southbank Centre, Saqi Books, The Midlands Art Centre, Eventbrite, Birmingham Hippodrome, BMAG, BBC, Gal-Dem amongst others. Aliyah's writing has been featured on Channel 4 Random Acts and is published in The Things I would Tell You: Muslim Women Write, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. @aliyahhasinah
D. Hunter is an ageing chav, whose first 25 years depended upon the informal economy including being a child sex worker, robbing from shops and homes, and dealing. From the age of 14 he was a homeless crack addict who was moved in and out of young offenders institutes and prison, until at 24 whilst sectioned under the Mental health act he learned to read using borrowed copies of a Spot the Dog book, Gramsci's "Prison Notebooks" and a young adult novel which involved a teenage girl with cancer and her sarcastic best friend Since then he's been an anti-capitalist motivated community organiser who spends too much time watching and reading about football. He pays his bills by working as a mental health support worker, and thinks everyone should stop recycling until they've collectivised and/or redistributed all their current and future economic resources. He is the author of "Chav Solidarity" and co-editor of "Lumpen: A Journal of Poor and Working Class Writing”
Matilda Ibini is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. She was awarded a scholarshipfrom BAFTA and Warner Brothers to study a Masters in Playwriting & Screenwriting. She has donethe Channel 4 Screenwriting Program and is one of ten writers for BBC Writersroom's 'The WritersAccess Group'. Her work has been staged at Bush Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Hampstead TheatreDownstairs, Vaults Festival, Arcola Theatre and Soho Theatre. Her next play ‘Little Miss Burden’will be staged at the Bunker Theatre this December. She currently has two feature film projectsin development with BBC Films. Her radio play 'The Grape that Rolled Under the Fridge' will bebroadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 13th October. @AstroMinx
Sumaya Kassim is a writer and independent researcher. She was one of the co-curators of the exhibition ‘The Past is Now: Birmingham and Empire’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (2017-2018). She chronicled this experience in her essay ‘The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised’ (Media Diversified, 2017) which has been made into a short film with filmmaker Arwa Aburawa. Her recent article ‘The Museum is the Master’s House: an Open Letter to Tristram Hunt’ (Medium, 2019) challenged the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum to question his assumptions about what it means to live in colonial aftermaths. Her understanding of museums and institutions is informed by her writing practice, particularly the role of memory and futurity in making ourselves and our communities. She is currently writing a novel and a set of essays on whiteness and institutions. @SFKassim
Rupinder Kaur is a Birmingham Panjabi poet, performer and creative curator. A vivid reader and lover of South Asian arts. She has featured at nights and festivals across the UK. Her debut poetry book, Rooh released in 2018 with Verve Poetry Press. @RupinderKW
Sara Kazmi is currently pursuing a PhD in Criticism and Culture at the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation examines radical Punjabi poetry in postcolonial Punjab in a cross-border context, focusing in particular on the poetics of feminist and Marxist critique. Sara's research focus stem from her extensive involvement with street theatre and folk singing in Punjab, Pakistan. She is deeply interested in the relationship between performance, vernacular poetics and political resistance.
Sara Khan is the full-time Liberation and Access Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, and a part-time undergraduate student of English Literature. She also sits on the National Executive Council (NEC) of the National Union of Students (NUS), as the LGBT+ Campaign women’s representative. Her primary areas of interest and activism are around decolonising education, and building radical, anti-racist, anti-fascist LGBT+ spaces and narratives. @LibAccessMCR
Hudda Khaireh is an independent researcher and artist with a background in Public International Law. Her practice focuses on the position of Black people globally and has shared work at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern and Uncommon Space at Tate Britain, Printroom Rotterdam, Chisenhale Gallery and DIY Cultures. Hudda is a part of the Black Feminist artist- collective, Thick/er Black Lines as well as an associate of Numbi Arts and OOMK Zine.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan fiction writer. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013. Her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly won the regional (Africa) and Global Commonwealth Short story prize 2014. Her collection of short stories, Manchester Happened (for the UK/Commonwealth) and Let’s Tell This Story Properly (for US Publication) came out in Spring 2019 and has been shortlisted for The Big Book prize: Harper’s Bazaar. She is a Cheuse International Writing Fellow (2019). She has a PhD from Lancaster University and lecturers at Manchester Metropolitan University. Jennifer is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize 2018.
Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is a writer, spoken-word poet, speaker, and educator invested in unlearning the modalities of knowledge she has internalised, disrupting power relations, and interrogating narratives around race/ism, gender(ed oppression), Islamophobia, state violence, knowledge production and (de)coloniality. Her debut poetry collection called Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) “features some of her most well-known and widely performed poems as well as some never-seen-before material. Her words are a disruption of comfort, a call to action, a redistribution of knowledge and an outpouring of dissent.” @TheBrownHijabi
Having recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Law and Bachelor’s degree in IR, Baghdad born Sham Murad currently facilitates a left-wing book club based in Birmingham. As well as this, she also teaches Arabic and English to fellow refugees at her local community centre. Her dissertation on mass incarceration in the U.S. and neoliberal shock reforms in Iraq has gained recent traction. @bitterarab
Ambrose Musiyiwa is a poet, journalist, publisher and events’ organiser. He is the author of The Gospel According to Bobba, a poetry pamphlet. He facilitates Conversations with Writers, a blog that features interviews with writers, publishers and literary activists from around the world, and CivicLeicester, a community media channel that uses video, photography and social media platforms to highlight conversations taking place in and around Leicester. He edited and published Bollocks to Brexit: an Anthology of Poems and Short Fiction (CivicLeicester, 2019) and Leicester 2084 AD: New Poems about The City (CivicLeicester, 2018) and he co-edited Welcome to Leicester (Dahlia Publishing, 2016), an anthology that explores the story of Leicester through poetry written by people with knowledge of the city.
“I make work for liberation; for myself & others to begin to feel at home in our body in ANY context.”Demi Nandhra is a neurodiverse artist based in Birmingham. She makes and curates both solo & collaborative performances, live art, theatre & sociopolitical enquiries with a focus on Mental Health, Care, Trauma & Oppression. Her work has been performed in beds, theatres and galleries. @deminandhra
Courttia Newland is the author of seven works of fiction including his debut, The Scholar. His latest novel, The Gospel According to Cane, was published in 2013. His short stories have appeared in many anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2016 he was awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. He is associate lecturer in creative writing at the University of Westminster and is completing a PhD in creative writing. As a screenwriter, he has written two episodes of the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe. @CourttiaNewland
Wanjiku Nyachae works as a Gestalt psychotherapist and coach. She has published fiction and non-fiction. Her non-fiction work focuses on the arts and includes essays in several catalogues. Her short-story fiction has been published in a literary magazine and in two anthologies. A NESTA Innovation Fellow (Clore Leadership Programme 2009/10) and researcher, she has a particular interest in arts-led personalised therapies and social prescription for wellbeing and good mental health. She is currently working on a text about the intergenerational effects of internalised imperialism and colonialism. Her formal qualifications include Msc. Economics (UCL, London, 1988), MA Creative Writing (Warwick University, 2003), MA Gestalt Psychotherapy (UoB, 2012). MSc. In Addictions Studies Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, KCL, 2018)
Dr Lisa Palmer
Dr Lisa Palmer is the Deputy Director Of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre at De Montfort University,Leicester. She was the former Course Director for the first Black Studies undergraduate programme and Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Birmingham City University. Lisa is a qualified librarian and previously worked for Birmingham Libraries and Archive Services for many years. She has a keen interest in working with local archive collections, specifically, the Vanley Burke Archive held at the Library of Birmingham. @LamandaP1
Sultanah Parvin lives in London and has done so most of her life. She is an educator by profession mostly working with inner city BAME kids. She has also worked on projects tackling issues of misogyny, race , anti blackness and colourism impacting women of colour. Sultanah has written for Middle East Eye, Media Diversified and she has blogged and created video series on political and social issues regarding securitisation, issues around the experiences of Black and Ethnic Minority women. Sultanah is currently writing a piece of history and experiences of Muslim Women in the UK over the last 20 years. She is also currently studying Culture Diaspora and Ethnicity at BirkBeck University.
Florence Okoye is a designer, writer and futurist, interested in community centred and participatory design practice as an approach for creating new technologies. Since 2015, she has been part of AfroFutures_UK, an interdisciplinary collective that explores the intersection of race and critical perspectives on technology. @FINOkoye
Muneera Pilgrim is an international Poet, Cultural Producer, Writer, Broadcaster and co-founder of the Muslim Hip-Hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage. She conducts workshops, shares art, lectures, host and finds alternative ways to build communities and exchange ideas. She contributes to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought, and she is currently an Associate Artist with The English Touring Theatre. @Munipilgrim
Dr Asim Qureshi
Dr Asim Qureshi graduated in Law (LLB Hons, LLM), special- ising in International Law and Islamic Law. He completed his PhD in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent. He is the Research Director at the advocacy group CAGE, and since 2003 has specialised in investigating the impact of counterterrorism practices worldwide. He has published a wide range of NGO reports, academic journals and articles. He has written the book 'Rules of the Game: Detention, Deportation, Disappearance' (Hurst, Columbia UP, 2009); a chapter in 'What is Islamophobia?' (Pluto Press, Chicago UP, 2017); and 'A Virtue of Disobedience’ (Unbound, 2019). Since 2010, he has been advising legal teams involved in defending terrorism trials in the US and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. @AsimCP
Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi
Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi is a writer of plays, essays, book reviews, and short stories. Her fiction has been published in the Closure anthology (Peepal Tree Press), the Hear Me Now anthology (Oberon books), and in online publications. Her plays have had rehearsed readings at The Rich Mix, Tristan Bates Theatre, and Derby Theatre. Her non-fiction has been published in Wasafiri, The Independent, the Express Tribune, Media Diversified, DAWN, Burnt Roti, and other publications. She also works as a translator, an editor, and a reader. She’s from Karachi and lives in London.
John Siddique is a sacred teacher and writer who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition. His mission, is not to attract 'followers,' but to guide and inspire the individual to recognise and understand their true nature and beauty through self-realisation. His guidance, meditations, and teachings have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world to live happier, more connected, meaningful lives on their own terms. He resides in the United Kingdom and India. @john_siddique