NYC | October 19, 2008

The British are coming! The British are coming! FWord writers (see the Fwords book jacket, and press release) from the UK will read from new works and launch their new anthology, Creative Freedom. Join us in welcoming Tanya Chan-Sam, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Simon Murray, Seni Seniviratne, Rommi Smith and internationally renowned Malawian poet, Jack Mapanje. They will be accompanied by guitarist, Chris Campbell.

Creative Freedom Tour

  • An inspiring and varied collection of new writing
  • An introduction to six new and established Black British writers
  • An introduction to the work of two important Black British artists

“Who belongs and who does not belong to ‘England’s concrete jungle?’ The work of these writers demonstrates not only do they belong, they also feel a powerful freedom to rewrite the story in a manner which makes sense to them.” – Award winning writer Caryl Phillips

Addressing a wide range of themes-from the oppression and restitution in 19th-century and contemporary South Africa to wry reflections on the thirst for freedom from a formerly imprisoned poet-this collection is an elegant exploration of the true meaning of liberation and the ironies of modern society. The book also includes photographic images of the work created by two visual artists in response to the work by the writers; Flags for Freedom – a series of batiks and Paths to Freedom – a series of paintings. A wide range of styles is evident amongst the writers – from Murray’s hard hitting social conscience yet catchy lyrics; Ibrahiim’s lyrical chants, Smith’s thought provoking imagery; Chan-Sam’s direct yet stylish prose and Seneviratne’s gentle nostalgic poetry, which evokes both sweet and sad memories.

About FWords

‘FWords’ is a creative project to commemorate the Parliamentary Act of 1807 to abolish the British Slave Trade. Eight individuals were selected from some of Yorkshire’s most talented literary and visual artists, acclaimed through publication, performance, exhibitions and prizes, nationally, and in some cases, internationally. They were asked to respond to this occasion by focusing on the theme of Freedom. In keeping with the theme, the writers and artists were given as much creative freedom as possible to express their response to the commemoration. The name, FWords was chosen as it was felt that within the concept of Freedom, there were so many ways and ideas to explain it, that it was not one that could be easily contained. The notions behind the word are both specific and nebulous, simple, but also complex, and as one of the writers says, in this sense, it is like love…

FWords is supported by Arts Council England, Yorkshire.

About the Writers

Tanya Chan-Sam is a South African writer living in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Tanya is a member of Inscribe, a Yorkshire Black Writers Development Programme and has read and performed her work at various venues across the UK. She has published various works in anthologies and journals nationally and internationally. In 2007, she was selected for a mentorship award with Apprenticeships in Fiction for her first novel, A Greatcoat and a Bicycle, the story of a coloured South African who serves in North Africa during the Second World War. Her chapbook of short stories, Mr Mohani and other stories will be published by Peepal Tree Press in 2008.

Khadijah Ibrahiim
is of Jamaican parentage, born in the city of Leeds, England. She is a poet, live artist, literary activist, researcher, educator and director of theatre for development. She is the Artistic Director of Sema Grass Roots Theatre production, where she continues to develop and coordinate educational programmes around social development for young people and community groups in the Yorkshire region and internationally. Hailed as one of Yorkshire ‘most prolific’ poets by BBC Radio, she continues to make various stage appearances across the USA, the Caribbean and the UK. She has appeared along side the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay, and Benjamin Zephaniah. She is the founder and executive director of ‘Voices of a New Generation’, a Youth Poetry Slam and National Literature Festival for youth and adults ( est.2004). Her chapbook, Rootz Runnin will be published by Peepal Tree Press in 2008.

Simon Murray (symurai) is a Pomfretian of Bajan heritage. He is a published writer and poet, an artist, and regular performer of spoken word. He also runs his own graphic design company, Liquorice Fish, working with a select number of innovative, creative and progressive clients. Simon’s spoken word, poetry and prose has appeared in several anthologies. He is working to complete his first book, Kill Yourself Now: True confessions of an Advertising Man (a novel as memoir detailing his time in the ad industry), together with a collection and CD compilation of his poetry. The first chapters are available as a chapbook with Peepal Tree Press (2008).

Seni Seneviratne is a writer, singer, photographer and performer. She was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1951 to an English mother and Sri Lankan father. She has been writing poetry since her early teens and was first published in 1989. Her poetry and prose has been published nationally and internationally. She won second prize in the Margot Jane Memorial Poetry Prize, Onlywomen Press. She has given readings and performances in Vancouver, Cape Town, and around England. Her collaborations include: a mixed media installation – ‘Memoried Mosaics’ which was exhibited in Sheffield’s Open Up event in 2004 and at Outwood Grange College, Wakefield; an art song for piano and voice – ‘Dandelion Clocks’ commissioned for Leeds Leider Festival and performed in October 2005; ‘A Wider View’ – verse accompanied by saxophone quartet, commissioned for Leeds launch of architecture week June 2006. Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin is her first collection of poems. She is currently working on her second collection with the newly launched ‘The Complete Works – National Development Programme for advanced Black and Asian Poets.’

Rommi Smith is a poet and playwright, who works to fuse spoken word and music together. A spellbinding, dynamic and powerful performer, Rommi works in collaboration with dancers, music producers and musicians, as well as with her own band, to create a synthesis of lyrical spoken and sung word. Rommi has been commissioned to create new work which has been broadcast extensively on various media and she has held numerous residencies in England and abroad, including BBC Music Live, the Commonwealth Games, BBC Radio 3’s Africa Season and as Poet in Residence at California State University in Los Angeles for the British Council. Rommi was appointed Parliamentary Writer in Residence in 2007. It is the first time that a Parliamentary Writer in Residence has been appointed. Rommi’s first poetry collection was called Moveable Type. Her chapbook of poems, a selection from her forthcoming second collection, Mornings and Midnights, inspired by the lives of jazz divas, was selected as a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice in 2006.

Chris Campbell
has been a lead guitarist for almost twenty years. He has performed with both major recording artists and worked with community groups. He has performed with artists such as Finlay Quaye and was the musical director for Shasne Lewis (former singer with girl group All Saints). His musical cv reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of reggae superstar talent from Gregory Isaacs to Big Youth. He has also toured the USA with international reggae artist, Eeek-A Mouse. Chris also gives time to community projects such as Leeds Young Authors and works regularly with the National Children’s Home in Wakefield during the summer.


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