Power, Protest & Poetry: Muneera Pilgrim’s Reading Recommendations

As part of Power, Protest & Poetry, international poet, cultural producer, writer, broadcaster, and TEDx speaker Muneera Pilgrim has curated a reading list of books to inspire, intrigue, and educate.


The Lonely Londoners – Samuel Selvon

Both devastating and funny, The Lonely Londonersis an unforgettable account of immigrant experience – and one of the great twentieth-century London novels.

Poor – Caleb Femi

Exploring the lives of young Black men in twenty-first-century Peckham through poetry and image, Poor is a staggering feat of visual storytelling, rooted in love of community, language and form.

Locating Strong Women – Tolu Agbelusi

Locating Strongwoman is a portrait of unperformed femininity. Eschewing the stereotypical portrayal of the “Strong Woman” and the even more loaded “Strong Black Woman”, these poems invite the reader to interrogate the protagonists and find in their stories a quiet strength.

The Book of Night Women – Marlon James

By the Man Booker-winning author Marlon James, this is the powerful story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. As rebellions simmer and unspoken jealousies intensify, Lilith’s powers and sense of purpose threaten not just her own destiny, but the destinies of all the slave women in Jamaica.

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

The classic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that made Alice Walker a household name. Set in the deep American South between the wars, The Color Purple is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation.

Zami – Audre Lorde

This is Audre Lorde’s story. It is a rapturous, life-affirming tale of independence, love, work, strength, sexuality and change, rich with poetry and fierce emotional power.

A Portable Paradise – Roger Robinson

Touching on themes as diverse as John Coltrane and the Grenfell Tower fire, Robinson has crafted a wonderfully broad and engaging collection of poetry that makes fascinating connections between seemingly unconnected topics. Acclaimed by Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo as ‘deep, mature, moving and inventive,’ A Portable Paradise is a work of revelatory power and singular sophistication.

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky – Lesley Nneka Arimah

‘When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters’.  A stunning collection of short stories from Caine-Prize and Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner Lesley Nneka Arimah. Shot through with magic and a powerful sense of yearning, this is a diverse and dazzling collection that showcases the work of a major new talent at the beginning of a stellar literary career.

Slay in Your Lane – Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

From education to work to dating, this inspirational, honest and provocative book recognises and celebrates the strides black women have already made, while providing practical advice for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy, Girl, Woman, Other is a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood. Evaristo’s Man Booker winning novel follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters as they tell the stories of their families, friends, and lovers, across the country and through the years.


Power, Protest & Poetry was a series of free, online literature events held in March and April 2021, as part of BBC Arts’ Novels That Shaped Our World festival, and presented in partnership by Words of Colour and Bristol Libraries with commissioned artist Muneera Pilgrim.