NY-LON: bringing together poets from London and New York, a cross-continent poetry connection.

Take part in a captivating evening that celebrates cultural exchange and artistic collaboration, and explores identity, social justice and the complexities of human nature.

We’re joined by Kwame Dawes, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu and Jive Poetic from the US; and Salena Godden and Lemn Sissay from the UK. Hosting will be the wonderful BREIS.

Supported by some of the UK’s freshest new voices and house band, this event transcends borders, uniting cultures through the universal languages of music and poetry. The emerging artists include: Adeola Yemitan, Courtney Conrad, Gafar Fashola, Tanaka Fuego and Rakaya Fetuga.

This event is part of the Speak Up Newcomer programme connecting US & UK poets, produced by Apples and Snakes and Young Identity.

Event Dates

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Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes has authored 36 books of poetry, fiction, criticism and essays, including NebraskaBivouac and City of Bones: A TestamentSpeak from Here to There, co-written with Australian poet John Kinsella, appeared in 2016. He holds posts at Prairie Schooner, the University of Nebraska, the African Poetry Book Fund, Calabash International Literary Festival and the Academy of American Poets.

Ugochi Nwaogwugwu

Ugochi Nwaogwugwu is a multidisciplinary creative and founder of Spirit Speaks, Inc. Chicago Music Awards named Nwaogwugwu and her band African Soul Ensemble (A.S.E.) Best African Entertainer in 2005 and 2022. Her poems have featured in anthologies Storm Between Two Fingers and Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different. Nwaogwugwu created an original pan-African poetry form called Ike, paying homage to her Igbo heritage of Nigeria.

Jive Poetic

Jive Poetic was one of two poets selected by the US Embassy to represent American slam poetry during an international cultural exchange programme in Poland. He has collected grand slam championship titles internationally. He is founder of Insurgent Poets Society and co-founder of Soundbites Poetry Festival, and hosts the open slam at Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay OBE is a poet, playwright, memoirist, performer and broadcaster. He was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize in 2019 for memoir My Name Is Why. His Landmark poems can be seen in public spaces around the UK. With Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sissay co-curated the exhibition Poet Slash Artist for Manchester International Festival 2021. He was previously writer in residence at the Southbank Centre, and was the first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics 2012.

Salena Godden FRSL

Salena Godden FRSL is an award-winning author, poet and broadcaster of Jamaican-mixed heritage. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a patron of Hastings Book Festival and has been awarded Honorary Fellowship at West Dean. Her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death won the Indie Book Award for Fiction and the People’s Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards and the Gordon Burn Prize. Film and TV rights for Mrs Death Misses Death have been optioned by Idris Elba’s production company Green Door Pictures. A hardback edition of Pessimism is for Lightweights – 30 Pieces of Courage and Resistance was published by Rough Trade Books in February 2023. Her poem Pessimism is for Lightweights is on permanent display at The Peoples History Museum, Manchester. Godden has signed a 3-book deal with Canongate: she is currently working on a memoir and a poetry collection which are both due for publication in May 2024, plus a second novel set in the Mrs Death Misses Death universe due in spring 2025. 

Your host – BREIS

Breis wears a grey bowler hat, red white and blue scarf, with thick rimmed glasses.

BREIS (breeze) is a dynamic Nigerian rap artist based in the UK. His name stands for Brother Reaching Each Inner Soul. Growing up in both the UK and Nigeria has influenced BREIS’ sound, which is a fusion of Hip Hop, Jazz and Afro-beat. He has toured internationally and shared the stage with world class artists such as Afro beat musician, Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi, Dead Prez, Big Daddy Kane, Black Thought (The Roots), Angie Stone, Les Nubians, Omar Sosa, The Horndogz and Kim Burrell. He is also the author of Brilliant Rappers Educate Intelligent Students – the UK’s premiere interactive rap book. BREIS is the CEO of Student of Life Ltd, a Hip Hop Education company/Record label and does a vast amount of work in schools across the UK, Europe, Washington DC, New York, Mauritius and Mozambique.

The Band

Musician, singer and songwriter Renato Paris will be leading the house band.

As well as leading his own band, Renato is a key member of two-time MOBOaward-winner Moses Boyd’s Exodus. His sound might be best described as a blend of Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Pop and Jazz.

Having graduated with a triple distinction star from The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology, Renato also studied at prestigious institutions such as Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and The University of Southern California.

Full band lineup:
Renato Paris – MD and Keys
Donovan Haffner – Saxophone
Shirley Tetteh – Guitar
Arthur O Hara – Bass
Edward Hick – Drums

Emerging Artists

Tanaka Fuego

Tanaka Fuego is a slam winning, multi-published, international spoken word artist, performing sold out shows at Edinburgh’s Fringe festival and Vault festival, and recently being involved in British Vogue X Prim digital pride campaign, working with brands such as Calvin Klein, Montblanc x NTS, Nike and more. Tanaka Fuego is a BBC Extra words first alumni, as well as a  Roundhouse poetry collective alumni. 

From becoming a qualified mental health first aider, facilitating workshops for all people in identity and expression as a wellness practice to speaking at corporate events on diversity and inclusion – Tanaka is an artist dedicated to practice of autonomy, and confronting self!

Instagram: @tanaka.fuego

Rakaya Fetuga

Rakaya Fetuga is a poet & writer from North-West London. She is winner of the Roundhouse Slam and has written for the UN, Microsoft and Bloomberg Philanthropies, amongst others. Her work has been published in anthologies by HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan and Penguin Random House. Rakaya is a regular workshop facilitator for the Poetry Society and All Change Arts, helping young writers nurture their talent, and hosts the Rumi’s Cave Open Mic in North-West London.

Twitter: @rakaya_esime Instagram: @rakayaesime

Garfar wears his hair braided and pulled back, and white polo type shirt with gold pendant necklace. Sunset in background against trees and mountain.

Gafar Fashola

Gafar Fashola is a Nigerian born poet who grew up in the heart of South London. Gafar is a contemporary poet who uses raw emotions and profound insights, with a gift for crafting elaborate verses that delve deep into the human experience.

Gafar moved to the UK at the age of 5 , and throughout the years developed a keen sense of observation and a thirst for understanding the complexities of human relationships. This early exposure to both diversity and adversity served as the fertile ground upon which his poetic journey would take root. Gafar’s poetry is characterized by its unapologetic honesty and its fearless exploration of topics often left unspoken. He uses his verses to shine a light on the pressing social issues of our time, exploring issues from systemic inequalities to mental health challenges. His words are a call to action, urging society to reflect and effect change.

Instagram: @gfashola

Courtney Conrad

Courtney Conrad is a Jamaican poet. Her debut pamphlet I Am Evidence is published by Bloodaxe Books. She is an Eric Gregory Award winner and a Bridport Prize Young Writers Award recipient. She is a Mslexia Women’s Pamphlet Prize winner. She was shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize, the Manchester Poetry Prize, the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award’s Poetry Prize, the Bridport Poetry Prize and the Poetry Wales Pamphlet competition. She was longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Women Poets’ Prize and The Rialto Nature and Place Poetry Competition.

Her poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Poetry Wales, The White Review, Stand Magazine, Bath Magg, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Anthropocene Poetry Journal and The Adriatic Magazine. Her work has been anthologised by Anamot Press, Bridport Prize, Re.creation, Peekash Press, Bad Betty Press and Flipped Eye Press. She is an alumna of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme, Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, Barbican Young Poets, Obsidian Foundation Retreat, Griots Well Collective and Roundhouse Poetry Collective.

She has performed at Glastonbury Festival, Brainchild Festival and UKYA City Takeover. She has been commissioned by the Museum of London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Apples and Snakes, Victoria & Albert Museum, Guildhall, Tate Britain, The African Centre, BBC 1Xtra, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Spread the Word.

Twitter: @courtneyconrad_ Instagram: @courtneyconradpoetry

Adeola Yemitan

Adeola is a London-based poet, actor, theatremaker, and interdisciplinary artist. She is an alumnus of the Southbank Centre New Poets Collective and an associate artist with the National Youth Theatre (NYT). Her poetry often explores the intersections of faith, religion, and popular culture in her experience and how she perceives it unfolding in the world now. She was commissioned to create a performance for COP26 in Glasgow by the NYT. Entitled ‘I Don’t Care’ and performed by a cast of young people, it looked at the apathy surrounding climate change action, featuring poetry and original vocal music, which plays a large part in her practice. Most recently, she worked with physical theatre company, The PappyShow, on a live performance at Somerset House as part of Morgan Stanley Lates. The short film, People Carry Place, worked on in collaboration with artists Issi Nanaybeyin, Tanya Anand, Ijeoma Uzoukwu and Sarah Lever, was screened at the London Short Film Festival at the BFI and featured in the British pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale.

Twitter: @AdeolaRayDee Instagram: @adeola.yemitan

This event was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

Event Dates

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