Future Voices – Midlands

The Midlands cohort for Future Voices will be led by Gallery 37. Gallery 37 is part of Punch – the UK’s leading Music and Arts agency. Punch have a commitment to working with Black Music, Arts and Culture through four central ‘pillars’ – Creating, Touring, Programming and Educating through award-winning tours, festivals, international projects and innovative development programmes for young people. The midlands cohort are as below:

Milga smiling, wearing a black and white headband. and black, white, orange and red ethnic patterned jumper

Milga Abraham

My name is Milga, I am a spoken word artist who explores themes of mental health, racism and other topics that are important to me. I work as a mental health nurse and this plays a big role in my poetry as well as my own personal experiences. I enjoy being able to articulate things that are hard to in other ways which is healing for myself and also benefits others.

Triumph wearing her braided hair pulled into a half up style, glasses and sage green jumper

Triumph Arach

Triumph is a writer from the East Midlands who started sharing poetry at open mics in 2022. She has spent the past year curating poetry events as part of Warwick Word Society and writing outside of her duties as vice president. She began by studying the creative journeys of Porsha O and Rudy Francisco, before writing with the intention of performing.

Her family is Ugandan. They are musical people and thanks to them she’s got a lot of love for Acholi and Congolese artists. Her inspirations are Michaela Coel, Radha Blank and Barry Jenkins. Their work resonates with her because it is consistently bold and personal. Outside of poetry she mentors young people and writes for the Boar as a student journalist; her articles typically cover literature, politics, and history. 

Seun wearing a blue, purple and orange swirly long sleeved top, long braided hair with pink tips. She is smiling and wearing orange lipgloss

Seun Matiluko

Seun is a British-Nigerian journalist, writer and poet whose work reflects on issues of identity, belonging and home.

Seun was a semi-finalist in the 2021 BBC Words First Competition and is an alumna of the Apples and Snakes Writing Room. Her work has been featured on screens at London Bridge and commissioned by Blueprint for all, the Poetry Society, the Young Poets Network and Girl Rising, among others.

She is currently working on a six-episode documentary podcast series for the BBC about British West African identity. Before this, she was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow at Harvard Law School. 

Jay is wearing a yellow carhartt hoodie, with shaved head and short shaved beard on a blue background

Jay Sandhu

Meet the dynamic poet, spoken word artist, comedian and rapper, Jay Sandhu. Hailing from Nottingham, Jay is a rising star, known for their powerful lyricism and captivating performances.

Jay’s journey as an artist began with poetry, as they found solace and self-expression in the written word. Over time, their passion for spoken word led them to explore hip-hop, a genre that allows them to infuse their poetry with hard-hitting beats and rhythmic flow.

Drawing inspiration from their own experiences, Jay’s lyrics explore themes of identity, race, self-discovery, social justice, and the power of community. Their unique style blends the raw honesty of spoken word with the gritty, soulful sound of lo-fi and boom-bap beats with sprinklings of grime, creating a captivating sonic landscape that invites listeners to connect with their message.

When Jay takes the stage or page, he brings a magnetic energy that commands attention and invites the audience into a shared experience. Whether performing or collaborating with other artists. As Jay continues to evolve as an artist, he remains committed to using the transformative power of spoken word and hip-hop, as well as page poetry to inspire and empower others.

Polis looks sideway on, short shaved head and beard, in a red and blue tartan shirt

Polis Loizou

Polis is an award-winning Cypriot writer and performer, working across various disciplines. He tends to draw on history, social politics, folklore and ‘queerness’ in all its forms.

His debut novel, ‘Disbanded Kingdom’, was published in 2018 and long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. His next two books are set in his motherland, including ‘A Good Year’ – a historical novella inspired by local horror folklore.

He’s also one third of the fringe theatre troupe The Off-Off-Off-Broadway Company, as well as a teller of folk tales from around the world. Having recently forayed into the world of poetry via Nottingham’s GOBS Collective, he’s looking to make work that combines his different practices. This has most recently manifested in the Arts Council-funded ‘I Was A Teenage Bisexual’, a one-man horror B movie for the stage that’s a hybrid of theatrical monologue, storytelling, poetry and multimedia.

Ingrid has a piped violet top, black choker and gemstone necklace, against a white panel background

Ingrid McLaren

Ingrid is a poet, musician and artist from Nottingham who uses creativity to process grief and come to terms with difficult states of being. She has performed poetry nationally and internationally and uses performance as a tool to feel a oneness with herself and the audience.

She was previously commissioned by Apples and Snakes to create a poetry video for a project called Cece’s Speakeasy, which was a creative exploration of the possibilities of our future if climate issues are not addressed. Since this project, she has been commissioned to create a series of other poetry videos, using storytelling and music to create engaging pieces.

Aliyah wears dark head scarf, white cardigan top and polka dot skirt, smiling into a mic on stage

Aliyah Begum

Aliyah is a poet who has performed her work at COP26, the RSC, and Verve Poetry Festival. She was chosen as a Young Critic for the T S Eliot Prize 2022 by the Poetry Society and was Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate between 2018-2020. She is currently studying English at Oxford.

Zakariye (young adult) wearing a black hoody with short black hair, about to talk into a mic

Zakariye Abdillahi

Zakariye is a poet and writer hailing from Birmingham who has been performing poetry for almost five years. In November 2022, he had his short poetry film ‘CAGES’ broadcast on BBC 4 and released on BBC iPlayer. He has worked with Flatpack to screen his short film as well lead a workshop on the relationship between film and poetry. He has also performed his poetry on Brum Radio, performed a set at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, headlined at The Glee Club for Verve and was recently a finalist at Roundhouse 2023 Poetry Slam, winning the audience vote.