Hit The Ode: May 2022

Hit the Ode is a unique performance poetry night bringing world-class spoken word artists to the heart of Birmingham to perform alongside open mic-ers.

For this Hit the Ode, we’re doing something a little bit special. We’ll be joined by Canongate Books as they prepare for the launch of More Fiya: A New Collection of Black British Poetry.

To celebrate this launch we’re mixing up the line-up with Malika Booker as host and guests Nick Makoha, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Dzifa Benson. Join them for a pre-event discussion on Black British poetry, readings from the collection, and the usual open mic slots.

More Fiya is a scorching new anthology of Black British poetry, edited by Kayo Chingonyi, following in the footsteps of Lemn Sissay’s seminal collection The Fire People.

There will be a q&a session at 7pm where you can join us for a casual chat and ask your burning questions. The event will start at 7.30pm


Malika Booker is a British poet of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage and the founder of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. Her collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the OCM Bocas Poetry Prize 2014 and the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. She received her MA from Goldsmiths University, was Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at Leeds University, and is now a Lecturer at MMU. Malika was the first British poet to become a fellow of Cave Canem, was the inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has represented British writing internationally, both independently and with the British Council.

Line up

Nick Makoha was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best First Collection for his debut Kingdom of Gravity. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, Malika’s Kitchen Fellow and Complete Works Alumnus. He won the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry prize and the 2016 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. His poems have appeared in the New York TimesPoetry ReviewRialtoPoetry LondonTriquarterly ReviewBoston ReviewCallaloo and Wasafiri among others.

Karen McCarthy Woolf’s first poetry collection An Aviary of Small Birds was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and Jerwood Prizes, and her latest, Seasonal Disturbances, was a winner in the inaugural Laurel Prize. In 2019 she moved to Los Angeles as a Fulbright postdoctoral scholar and Writer in Residence at the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA, exploring the relationship between poetry and law. 2021 took her to Brazil, as an artist in resi­dence at the Sacatar Institute in Bahia, writing new work exploring sugar and its cultural and material legacies.

Dzifa Benson is a multidisciplinary artist whose work intersects science, art, the body and ritual, which she explores through poetry, prose, theatre-making, performance, essays and criticism. She has performed nationally and internation­ally for Tate Britain, the Courtauld Institute of Art, BBC Africa Beyond and more, and she abridged the National Youth Theatre’s 2021 production of Othello in collaboration with Olivier award-winning director Miranda Cromwell.

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