Panya Banjoko on Nottingham and black writing.

Mon 12 Jun, 2017

Panya Banjoko is an poet, educator and patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. Here she tells us a little about the challenges black writing faces, and how she is working to promote often unheard voices.

Writing is one of the things that I have always done constantly and consistently. There have been many highlights throughout the journey, more recently a collection that I've been working on, Them They The Others and Me, was accepted by Burning Eye Books for publication in June 2018. In addition to tweaking the collection I am working on a performance for the Southwell Poetry Festival (July 13th at West Bridgford Library) this will be a collaborative show with singer, songwriter Abii. I'm interested in seeing how the audience responds to a mix of poetry and song, we've called what we're doing "soetry" (song+poetry) as opposed to “pong”! (poetry+song). I've also had one of my poems commended in a writing competition but I can't say too much about that until after the awards ceremony so shh...

Unfortunately, research shows that Black Writers lack the opportunities afforded to their white counterparts and in my experience this is true. Sadly, I don't feel able to concentrate solely on being a writer but feel obligated to think about and address wider issues.  Addressing the imbalance comes in many forms, primarily through my work challenging the status quo and also through supporting and developing black writers through a network. My work is important within this context because it seeks to challenge and inspire.

For my own work I am already thinking about my next poetry collection and also about writing historical crime fiction - I have the idea and the first draft in place already.  In terms of Black Writers and their work here in Nottingham I would like to see the network support and develop writers to publication stage. My mission is to put Nottingham on the map as the home of some of the finest Black Writers in the world!

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