Patience Agbabi: Creative Writing Workshop

Event time: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 - 9:15am
LC 101 See map
Event description: 

Patience Agbabi is a renowned British poet and performer of the spoken word. She has toured widely in for example the Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Germany, Switzerland, Namibia and the US. Her poetry includes many forms and genres, including traditional forms such as sestina, sonnet, and rhyme royal, prose poems and dramatic monologues, and also rap, tattoos, and contemporary pop music. Agbabi’s widely celebrated 2014 collection Telling Tales riffs off the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Writing as a black, female poet, born to Nigerian parents and educated at Oxford, identifying as bi-cultural and bisexual feminist, her poetry is engaged with gender, sexual, racial, cultural, and linguistic identity issues. She is represented by Caribbean/African-led Renaissance One.

Her work speaks to ways in which Yale English has questioned notions of canonic literature, broadened its focus to Anglophone literature across the world, and reset the study of medieval literature as a means of re-examining the status of English in its European and Mediterranean context before it became a tool of colonial power. From her groundbreaking debut 1995 collection of poetry, R.A.W., she has focused on racial and sexual politics; “I wrote R.A.W. to right the wrongs of the world but was always a poetical activist. Meaning and music, form and content were inextricably linked. In Transformatrix I was tapping into the deep subconscious, producing narrative poems, dramatic monologues in forms like the sonnet, the sestina.” Of her 2008 work, Bloodshot Monochrome: “I’m obsessed with poetic form, the human form, the dynamics of performance. I write because my ink must flow like blood. The written must be spoken. The chasm between page and stage must be healed.” Most recently she has also won acclaim for her Leap Cycle fiction series for children, from The Infinite (2020) to The Past Master (2024), exploring time travel, neurodivergence, leaplings, climate change and young black female identity.

She will be giving two lectures, one a poetry reading showcasing her work on Chaucer and other poetry, the other a conversation on race and migration, based on her contribution to a collaborative project sponsored by the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group with such writers as Ali Smith, Chris Cleave and Marina Lewycka, giving voice to refugees in contemporary Britain. In a third event she will lead a creative writing workshop on poetry and performance. All welcome!