Dear Everyone but Midlands Artists in particular,

I’m Aliyah, I should probably have written this a while back but hey ho, when inspiration strikes an’ all that.

Sooooooo, I have lots to talk about, stay seated folks. Since shimmying into the role of Apples and Snakes Midlands producer in Summer 2017 lots has been occurring. Events on events on events, meetings with poets, multiple train exchanges, conversations and plans to be made. It only feels like the beginning and with 2018 being Apples and Snakes 35th anniversary, plans are only set to get bigger and louder as we set up to poetically explode all over the gaff. I’m very honoured to be on this journey with the rest of the team.

The last couple of months whilst settling into my new role I’ve been plotting and scheming and accountability tweeting and it’s all been fun and fast paced – lots is happening across the Midlands. I’ve seen poets quit their jobs to build poetic infrastructure, new collaborative ventures seeded and work being commissioned as well as a whole host of new NPO’s in the region thinking about how they can additionally support the growth of poets in this here Midlands.

Plot twist, recent research via the Guardian found that £700 million is needed to give northern England (anywhere north of London) the same Arts Council funds and opportunities as those granted to London. The North South divide lives on but that doesn’t mean that all the work done isn’t impactful, it just means we need more and there’s more to be developed. We need to keep things moving forward by building opportunities and continuing to support poets in a variety of ways in cities all across the country. London you’re alright but the rest of the country is also poppin’ and always has, it just needs a bit more of a motor to help produce long term careers and not 5 minute success stories. *coughs* infrastructure and eco-systems pls *cough*.

That being said, what are Apples and Snakes Midlands going to do about it?

Well, well, well. There are many plans and things that can happen in the next year/s but my main focus is on artistic development for the region. 2018 in my mind, is the year of artistic development. Workshops, masterclasses, courses, critique, critique, critique, all constructive of course and more performance opportunities/amplifying our poets nationally.

The lack of development opportunities for Midlands artists of all ages is astounding and due to the lack of funding over the years, the region is behind approximately 7-10 years. Any funders looking to change this holla innit.

Don’t get me wrong, lots of incredible work and poets have come from/are coming from the region but there is definitely more space for careers/opportunities to be developed outside of the open mic circuit. What comes after a couple of headline gigs for Midlands artists? How do we become poets with a national presence?

I believe there is space for poets to be integrated into general arts practice, to collaborate across artform, bridge into digital domains, take up space in galleries, theatres and law firms. There is also space for poets to be proactive and travel outside of their region for opportunities (they shouldn’t have to, but learning from other scenes is instrumental to building resilience as a writer and also becoming better at your craft – think of it the same you would traveling outside the country for new experiences etc) arrange meetings and ask for residencies if you feel like that would be helpful. The more we all push, the further we can all go.

In terms of my plans for the Midlands expect poetry slams, residencies, the return of masterclasses, a spoken word history exhibition, festival programming, new development programmes bridging music, poetry and theatre as well as linking poets with people and organisations that could work well together. I won’t say too much because that’s my challenge for you to keep an eye on things and stay in the loop *cough sign up to the artist opportunities mailing list*.

All of the plans I’m proposing for the year ahead have been informed by the series of Research and Development days I undertook throughout Sept-Nov. I spoke to poets, organisers and venues/partners in Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Lincoln and more are planned for the new year. In these sessions everyone echoed the need for artistic development and regional/national touring, it has all been noted and is essentially my Apples and Snakes Bible/Quran/Torah/Warsan Shire collection.

We will be shifting our focus from producing open mic/small live events and push towards connecting opportunities across the East and West Midlands and getting more poetry nationally touring and more poets recognised nationally and maybe even internationally. I’m available for poet meetings, you can drop me an email on to talk about your work or where you are career wise if that helps.

On that note, I’m going to get back to organising these plans, but stay tuned for the new year and don’t be a stranger.

Take care and live your best life,

Aliyah Hasinah xx



Photo credit Myah Jeffers