First Poets of Colour Incubator for the North of England announces its inaugural cohort

Three emerging poets of colour from the North of England will be announced today as the inaugural cohort for the first Poets of Colour Incubator with access to an £18,000 bursary fund.

The new Incubator poets, Princess Arinola Adegbite, Jeremy Pak Nelson and Ilisha Thiru Purcell, will be part of a 12-month mentoring, change agency and creative development Incubator to innovate their practice and create a ‘poetic response’ to a global challenge they want to interrogate.

A collaboration between Words of Colour and Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Incubator will help the three poets develop their ideas on diaspora, home and the weaponising of the term migrant, artificial intelligence’s influence on human perception, and trauma survivors’ relationship with sleep.

Each poet will receive a £6,000 Creative Action Bursary to explore, develop and research their idea with mentoring and masterclasses by acclaimed poets Malika Booker, Kit Fan, Shamshad Khan, Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson. They will also have access to creative entrepreneurship, creative wellbeing and digital inclusion expertise.

Princess Arinola Adegbite, a poet, performance artist, filmmaker and musician from Salford, said: “I feel genuinely honoured to be selected. I want the programme to give me space to experiment, develop new work and take time to invest in my goals as an artist. I plan to explore artificial intelligence and technology’s influence on human perception, reality and relationships through poetry and conceptual art instructions.”

Jeremy Pak Nelson, a writer and artist from Hong Kong, based in Manchester, said: “I’m thrilled to be part of this inaugural cohort. My focus is on the diaspora experience and the notion of home. “The opportunities the Incubator provides for discussion with the wider public will be important for learning how we can reopen or reframe conversations that so easily become bogged down in the language of social media and political messaging.”
Ilisha Thiru Purcell, a poet based in and from Newcastle upon Tyne, added: “I am so excited to be part of the Incubator. I was drawn to the Incubator’s unique focus on creative wellbeing so I can develop holistically while learning with and from others. In my project I want to explore sleep, dreams and nightmares from the perspective of trauma survivors to create new poetic forms based on the mechanisms of sleep.”

The programme’s selection panel also chose five of the shortlisted poets to be part of an Incubator Collective. They will receive career signposting, professional guidance and space to build a community of practice. The Incubator Collective poets are Nasima Begum (aka Nasima Bee), Chloe Elliott, Ruby-Ann Patterson, Yorusa and Elkanah Wilder.

Joy Francis, Words of Colour’s Executive Director and the Poets of Colour Incubator Co-Lead, said: “Our three inaugural Incubator poets and five Incubator Collective poets reflect the talent in the North of England and show the need for more inclusive programmes that provide space for contemporary and radical poetic ideas to breath, flourish and reach their audiences. I’m excited about collaborating with them to explore how best to nurture their creative wellbeing and change agency to take their ideas and craft forward.”

Kit Fan, shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best Collection 2023, said: “Emerging from a host of astonishingly high-quality applications, our three inaugural Incubator poets come with such buzzing ideas about migration and the city, sleep and trauma, music and generative AI that will undoubtedly enrich the craft of poetry and our understanding of the world. I hope the Incubator programme, with its multi-layered support and extensive network, will enable our poets to challenge themselves and create new sounds, images and experiences that go to the heart of poetry.”

Funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, the Incubator is supported by partners, including Contact, HOME, Manchester UNESCO City of Literature and New Writing North.

Starting in September 2023, the poets will also work with the public on idea development through Incubator drop-ins and scratch performances, and co-develop a live, end of programme showcase.

To find out more visit: bit.ly/PoCIncubator