Commission ‘Reimagining the City’ with Mona Arshi, Will Harris, Maryam Hessavi, Degna Stone and music from Paula Darwish & Serpil Kılıç: 27 April 2019

Free poetry and music event at the Whitworth Art Gallery on 27 April 2019 (2.30-4.00). This is our annual commission event; four poets have been invited to participate in a poetry commission ‘Reimagining the City’:

Mona Arshi

Photo credit: Svetlana Cernenko

Mona Arshi worked as a  Human rights lawyer at Liberty before she started writing poetry. She completed her Masters in poetry in 2011 at the University of East Anglia with a distinction. Her debut collection  ‘Small Hands’ won the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2015. She has also been a prizewinner in the Magma, Troubadour and Manchester creative writing competitions. Mona was the 2016-2017 Arvon/Jerwood poetry mentor .She has performed her work at over 40 Festivals both here and abroad. She has read at the Royal Society of Literature, the Poetry School, The Southbank and in  2017 she was one of the judges for the Forward Prize. Mona makes regular appearances on the radio including Front Row and was recently commissioned to write a programme on the Odyssey for ‘Book of the week’ for Radio 4. Her poems and interviews have been published in many magazines including The Times, The Guardian, The Times of India as well as on the London Underground. In 2015 Sathnam Sanghera from the Times  described Mona as ‘nothing less than Britain’s most promising writer.’

Mona’s second collection ‘Dear Big Gods’ is to due to be published in April 2019 by Liverpool University Press.

Will Harris

Will Harris is a London-based poet and critic. He is the author of the chapbook of poems, All this is implied (HappenStance, 2017), and the essay, Mixed-Race Superman (Peninsula Press, 2018). His first full-length poetry book, RENDANG, is forthcoming from Granta in spring 2020.

Maryam Hessavi

Maryam Hessavi a British, Manchester-based poet. An Alumni of The University of Manchester, her poetry has featured in various commissions, Peter Barlow’s Cigarette series, Ledbury Festival 2018 readings, readings with Kevin Bateman PresentsSmoke Magazine, Ambit and The Emma Press. She is a Ledbury Critic, with reviews featured or forthcoming in The Manchester ReviewPoetry LondonPoetry WalesThe Poetry School, PBSMagma, Ambit and The Guardian.

Degna Stone

Degna Stone is a co-founder of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine, a contributing editor at The Rialto and a pamphlet selector for the Poetry Book Society. She received a Northern Writers Award in 2015 and is a fellow of The Complete Works III. She is an Inscribe supported writer and her latest pamphlet Handling Stolen Goods is published by Peepal Tree Press. Her appearances include: StAnza International Poetry Festival, Leeds Lit Festival and BBC Radio 3s The Verb. (Photo credit: Phil Punton).

Paula Darwish and Serpil Kılıç

2017 Anatolian Folk Paula Darwish.jpgAlready a singer/songwriter in her own right, Paula Darwish became more well known in the early 2000s for her unique and captivating interpretations of Turkish and Kurdish folk songs. Her growing passion for the the old folk music of the Anatolia region led to the founding of the Country & Eastern band in Manchester (2002-2012). The band combined elements of Turkish and later Kurdish folk with electric instruments and western grooves. Paula now mainly performs acoustically with Serpil, who is originally from Dersim province in Turkey and has been playing bağlama with Paula since 2004. As well as Turkish and Kurdish songs, their repertoire also includes song in Arabic, Armenian and other Middle Eastern languages.


About Janet Rogerson

Janet Rogerson
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