Describe yourself in 3 words…

‘Alive’, I think. Close friends call me a ‘hustler’ (I asked only the ones that like me these days!). My aspirational description would be ‘kind’.

What inspires you?

Anger on most days, at how unjust the world is. On better ones, beauty of all kinds—in places and people. 

Tell us about your worst ever gig?

Not exactly a gig, it was the UK UniSlam finals where I was representing my University. I lost my words in the pin-drop silence of over 300 people increasingly rooting for me with every syllable rolling off my tongue (my UniSlam community always wants you to succeed and is undoubtedly one of the best audiences you will ever meet!). I thought I had the poem in my muscles but mid-way through, I found myself grasping for letters, words, lines (anything really!) in the blank brain polaroid of a page I had used during practice sessions. I had clearly trusted my preparation too much to make space for improvising. That was the first time I realised the risk of having more faith in my memory than myself. 

What’s your number one poetry pet peeve?

Usually adjusting the height of the mic stand and making a lame joke about being tiny before I start performing. 

Whose words do you love at the moment?

Sarah Kay made me fall in love with poetry and a little bit with the world. At the moment, I am a big sucker for words from Jasmine Gardosi, Fathima Zahra, Joelle Taylor, Bohdan Piasecki, Tishani Doshi, Diksha Bijlani, Sohini Chattopadhyay, Varun Grover, Srushti Tawade among many others. 

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

To my younger and my present self: let’s try and judge everyone a little less (including ourselves) shall we?

If you awoke one day as a flower, what flower would you choose to be?

‘Raat ki raani’ aka ‘queen of night’ aka ‘night jasmine’. The flower blossoms in many regions of India right after summer, announcing the onset of monsoons as the sunsets get cooler. It will make you feel its presence on quiet nights through its fragrance, making your heart suddenly, and sometimes strangely, feel at home—the second-best smell in this world (petrichor being the best one, of course). The plant seems to have been understudied for its healing properties and obviously, it’s tiny. :o)

Bhumika performs her poem My Mother Lives in Me

About Bhumika Billa

Bhumika Billa is a UK-based Indian-origin poet, creative facilitator, Kathak dancer & legal academic. A Button Poetry Grand Champion (2023), Out-Spoken Prize Finalist (2023), Hammer & Tongue Cambridge Finalist (2022), and BBC Words First Finalist (2021), she has performed & facilitated in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France & India. Her poems on the stage, on page, and on film have been featured on/published by various organisations including Button Poetry, Southbank Centre, Apples and Snakes, UK UniSlam, Cambridge University, and Airplane Poetry Movement. She is currently exploring the themes of heritage, justice & identity to bring together languages, art forms & people. 

Instagram: @BhumikaBilla Twitter:@BhumikaBilla Read, Watch, Listen:

Bhumika is part of Future Voices. Find out more about the project here: