When Courttia Newland published his first novel The Scholar aged 23, he immediately captivated the media as one of the few black British writers who accurately portrayed teenage life in London’s inner cities. The Scholar quickly became a best-seller and is currently being made into a film by Courttia’s own production company Cofe. His second novel Society Within was published in 2002, followed by Snakeskin. Originally a rapper who spent his childhood years performing at Westwood shows from the age of 13, Courttia only began writing to fund his dream of becoming a musician. He soon branched out into the theatre, and started up his own production company the Post Office Theatre and has written two plays - Mother’s Day and B is for Black.
Courttia has contributed to many short story volumes including Disco 2000, Afrobeat and the Time Out Book of London Short Stories. Along with Kadija George, he has edited IC3, a collection of stories and poetry reflecting the first, second and third generations of British black writing. He is currently writer-in-residence at the London College of Communication, and runs writer’s workshops in at schools, universities and prisons nationwide.
Born in England and raised in Ghana, 29 year old Nii Parkes is an internationally-respected performance poet and writer. A Farrago UK Poetry Slam champion and veteran of several poetry festivals, he has performed extensively throughout the UK, Europe and the US.
Nii runs regular workshops in the UK and has set up a Writer’s Fund in Ghana to promote writing among the youth. He has recorded two CDs of his spoken word poetry, Incredible Blues and Nocturne of Phrase, and has published three collections of poetry - Eyes of a Boy, Lips of a Man and M is for Madrigal, and fourteen two. He has just completed his debut novel The Cost of Red Eyes.
He is the Resident poet at Borders Bookstores where he hosts the monthly open mike at Charing Cross Road. He also hosts Aromapoetry and Full Flavour, and regularly performs at the Poetry Cafe in London. In addition to this Nii has contributed to several magazines and literary journals.
Amplified is London's premier alternative soul night, with residencies at the Marketplace and Medicine Bar. It is also a website and DJ collective. Amplified's music policy incorporates hip hop, funk, neo-soul, afrobeat, latin and nu jazz and is an essential stop-over for UK & US artists including Terri Walker, Charlie Dark, Jaydee, Vikter Duplaix, ?uestlove, Kwame etc. Amplified was a part of the team behind the highly successful Black Lily series of live events at Cargo last year as well as Digression Session at the Spitz, involving artists such as Ty, The Roots, Hil St Soul and Omar. The Amplified website has become a hub for the UK online soul community with it's mix of reviews, interviews and specialist news. The main ethos of Amplified is to support & inform through music and music related events and to provide a platform for the continued appreciation of the arts.
Lyrical gymnast Jonzi D defines the thinking man’s underground rap and poetry scene and is at the epicentre of hip hop theatre movement. An acclaimed writer and choreographer, his recent successes include Aeroplane Man and Ace Dance at the Royal Festival Hall. He has performed all over Europe, America and Southern Africa. “An astoundingly deft, impeccably timed performer.” The Guardian
When you bear in mind that Matt Thorne is still only twenty-nine, his career to date seems unbelievable. His first novel Tourist, a tale of betrayals, emotional scars and unorthodox sexual relationships in the seedy seaside town of Weston, was longlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. His second novel Eight Minutes Idle won a 1999 Encore Award. His third novel Dreaming Of Strangers, explores the confused battle of the sexes in early 21st century London with much wit and humour, and is currently being adapted for film by director Steve Barron, while Pictures of You, his fourth, sees a return to the slightly darker emotional territory. Matt's latest offering Child Star, has garnered favourable reviews for its portrayal of a man trying to cope with non-celebrity and his fear of obscurity after a spell on reality TV. Matt has also edited a collection of short stories along with Nicholas Blincoe entitled All Hail The New Puritans and has recently published his first children's book Greengrove Castle (Faber). A new novel, Cherry, is being published in September.
Maggie Gee has published eight novels. Her first book Dying, in Other Words, for which she was selected as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists’, is an experimental black comedy in which a supposedly dead woman triumphantly rewrites the story of her own death.
Gee does not shy away from the social problems of contemporary England. Her novels have addressed global warming, domestic violence, homelessness and infertility and there is a political and psychological urgency that characterises her work. Her most recent novel,
The White Family, is an uncensored exploration of the racist imagination and was a long-list contender for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Maggie Gee lives in London
Karen McCarthy was born in London to an English mother and Jamaican father and has worked in publishing and the media for many years. As the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry nominated for Best Book in the EMMA Awards 2000, she has presented her work nationwide including The Poetry Society, South Bank Centre and City Of Women Festival, Slovenia as part of the British Council’s new writing promotion. She is also the editor of Kin: New Fiction by Black and Asian Women (Serpent’s Tail, 2003), and was a featured poet on the Kin live literature tour which she initiated and devised with event producers renaissance one. She recently joined the editorial board of the literary journal Wasafiri and is a contributor to Sable Magazine. Karen is an experienced workshop tutor for adults and teens and is currently writing a period drama for BBC Radio 4.
Rajeev's first novel In Beautiful Disguises, published by Bloomsbury in 2000 when the author was just 25. It won the Betty Task Award and was nominated for the Guardian Fiction Prize. His short story The Dreamer won an Ian St. James Short Story Award. His second novel, in progress, is based on this short-story. Born in Lancaster, he splits his time between London and Berlin. Rajeev is Features Editor for Sable magazine.
Hari Kunzru is a freelance journalist and editor living in London. He was born in 1969, and grew up in Essex. He studied English at Oxford University, then gained an MA in Philosophy and Literature from Warwick University. He has worked as a travel journalist since 1998, writing for such newspapers as The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, and is travel correspondent for Time Out magazine. In 1999 he was named The Observer Young Travel Writer of the Year. He is also music editor of Wallpaper magazine and contributing editor to Mute, the culture and technology magazine. He has had short stories published in various magazines, and his first novel The Impressionist (2002) won the 2002 Betty Trask Prize and the 2003 Somerset Maugham Award and was also shortlisted for several awards, including the 2002 Whitbread First Novel Award. His second novel, Transmission, will be published in 2004. In 2003, Hari Kunzru was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty Best of Young British Novelists.
When Jon McGregor appeared on the Booker Prize longlist in 2002 he was completely unknown. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, published when he was just 26, was hailed by The Times as "a dream of a novel" and Vogue magazine included him in a line-up of new literary talent. The book was inspired in part by the phenomenal media attention that surrounded the death of Princess Diana. Around the same time, a young man was shot in McGregor’s own neighborhood; the novel is about “how the everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favour of celebrity and sensation, and the difficulty of experiencing community in an increasingly transient society.” McGregor lives in Nottingham and is currently working on his second novel.
Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool in 1966 and now lives in Aberystwyth. Both towns have a strong hold on his imagination. He burst on to the literary scene in 2000 with Grits (Jonathan Cape), a ferocious novel narrated through a revolving series of vernacular voices. The novel is currently being adapted for television. Sheepshagger (Jonathan Cape) followed in 2001, and in many ways, was a sharpening of focus, confirming Griffiths's reputation as a serious novelist of striking originality. His third novel, Kelly and Victor (Jonathan Cape) appeared in 2002, and is being turned into a feature film. Stump, (Jonathan Cape, 2003), traces a trajectory of violent retribution between Liverpool and Aberystwyth, following two shell-suited gangsters on their journey from Merseyside to the seaside town to settle a score. This is also being filmed. Griffiths's work has been translated into several languages and he has read his work at various festivals in various countries. His latest novel, Wreckage, will appear in 2005.
Lead singer of ska-punk trio SaltPervert, Salena Godden is also a poet, broadcaster & performer. Her work has appeared in the two most recent Coldcut albums Let us Play and Let us Replay (Ninja Tune) and she is currently writing lyrics/poetry for their new album out later this year. As well as being featured in the underground press, Godden was recently published in Penguin's IC3 & Serpents Tail's Oral anthologies. She is also the muse for new French fashion label Princess Prostitute Idiot.
Salena has performed her work globally from Australia'to East Timor. She has also completed a spoken word tour across the USA and held poetry workshops in Harlem with homeless kids. On her return to the UK she performed a series of live multi-media shows featuring writers such as Irvine Welsh and Jock Scot. Together with Peter 'Peyote' Coyte, she created Saltpetre, a unique poetry concept show for CD & radio, and host regular slots on BBC London and Resonance 104.4 fm. Last year Saliva featured on BBC Radio 4’s new spoken word series Bespoken Word and co-presented Channel 4’s late night discussion series Heavy TV. She is currently writing a documentary, Seaside Rocks for Channel 4’s Made in Britain series, which she will also present.
Dzifa Benson was born in London but spent her formative years in Africa until she returned to the UK at the age of 17 to attend the University of East Anglia. She cites her heritage as Ghanaian, her culture as very much London. Dzifa is an established music journalist and has contributed to the Guardian, Evening Standard and Trace magazine among others. As a broadcaster she has contributed to BBC radio and television and regularly teaches young adults music technology and radio journalism. Currently at work on her first novel, she is also working with a film company on a documentary about the evolution of African music. She is also writes poetry and radio plays.
Writer, producer and DJ Charlie Dark first made his name as a founder of the poetry collective The Urban Poets Society in the early 90s. As one third of Attica Blues, the critically acclaimed hip hop inspired trio, Charlie has established a reputation for pushing the boundaries of imagery and musicality. He currently runs Blacktronica, a regular series of events at the ICA, which brings together DJs, producers, poets and artists offering the best examples of black electronic music. Artists such as 4hero, IG Culture, Bugz in the Attic and King Britt are just some of the names in this collective. Charlie is an experienced workshop facilitator and has devised creative writing workshops and performance sessions for many schools and organisations.
Gemma Weekes studied at Bristol University. She is a poet, singer, songwriter and freelance journalist. Although a relative newcomer, her spiky, staccato style gives her an enormous stage presence which crackles with electric energy. Gemma’s work has been published in the recent Kin Anthology of New Fiction by Black and Asian Women.
London-born writer and internationally-renowned spoken word recording artist, Liam Gallimore-Wells supported Linton Kwesi Johnson at the 2002 Bristol International Poetry Festival and his short fiction was first showcased on the 2001 ExCommunicate Literary Tour. Liam's short stories have been published in iQ and Decode magazine and he has collaborated with French rock band Toxic Twins. He has just completed a tour of China and the Far East and his debut EP with electronica artist Monstatruk will be released on Underconstruction Records later this year. Liam is currently working on his first novel, Dead Air.
Kadija is a literary activist, short story writer and poet of Sierra Leonean descent, and the Publisher/Managing Editor of Sable LitMag. Her work has earned her many awards and nominations including the Cosmopolitan Woman of Achievement, Candace Woman of Achievement, The Voice Community Award in Literature and the Millennium Woman of the Year. She is the General Secretary for African Writers Abroad (PEN) and organises the Writers' HotSpot - trips for writers' abroad where she teaches creative writing and journalism' courses. She is currently collating a book of essays, Write Black British, to be published by Hansib in 2004; and an anthology of New African Writers with award winning Caine Prize writer, Helon Habila.
Abby Ajayi was born in London, in 1979, to Nigerian parents. She grew up in Lagos and London and still lives in North London. She works as a Script Editor for the BBC and is currently writing a screenplay - a thriller based in London. Although she has written short stories, short films and several unfinished novels, her story for Tell Tales, The Race, about a child's shifting perceptions of the world around her, will be her first performance and publication.
Shiromi Pinto is a writer and editor based in North London. Her short story, Trussed, appears in Kin, an anthology of women's writing (Serpent's Tail ). A featured artist in the Kin live literature tour 2003-2004, she has read from her work at the Victoria & Albert Museum, CCA Glasgow and Barbican. Kolambe, a travel memoir, is published in the autumn 2001 issue of the Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad and on opendemocracy.net, alongside South Beach. Her first short story, Bulat Kisses, appears in Notes Across the Aisle (Thistledown Press, Saskatchewan) and was awarded second prize in the publisher's 1995 short story competition.
Sharon Jennings has lived and worked in the UK for almost 30 years but originates from the US. Through her work as a Social Care Consultant and lecturer she has published articles and books on black mental health and complementary therapies, but her creative writing began many years ago. Writing poetry and short stories.
Her stories have been published in the Kin Anthology of Black and Asian writing and she has performed at the Voice Box (Royal Festival Hall), BBC Black History Month Celebration and the SpitLit Festival, among others. She is currently working on a novel that takes place amongst black people in England circa 1780.
Barbara Graham is a British born Jamaican living in East London with her family. Her writing has grown out of journaling after the death of her father. Her first short story Next of Kin was published in the Kin Anthology edited by Karen McCarthy. She is currently studying English part time at the University of North London and is working on making writing her significant other occupation.
Martin Ouvry was born in Sussex and lives in west London. After working as a musician in Europe and America, he gained a First in English at the University of East Anglia, took the MA course in Creative Writing, and was awarded the UEA Alumni Association Prize for Fiction. He is at work on a novel, with the support of a grant from the Arts Council England.
Tom Lee was born in Essex in 1974 and is a graduate of Goldsmiths College's MA in Creative Writing. His stories have appeared in Zembla and The Dublin Review. He lives in East London and is writing a novel set in a South American country on the brink of a military coup.
Uchenna Izundu was born in Nigeria and spent her early childhood in Scotland. She has been writing stories from an early age. Uchenna is an energy journalist, specialising in the news and analysis of international geo-politics and commercial developments of global gas projects. She is a board member of Aspire, a support organisation for black media professionals that aims to connect potential black journalists with those already working within the industry. Her work has been broadcast on the BBC World Service and has appeared in The Guardian, New Nation, Asian Times, African Times and darkerthanblue.com. Her creative writing has been published in Penguin's IC3 and Sable Literary magazine.
Chaz Brenchley has made a living as a writer since the age of eighteen. A prize-winning ex-poet, he is an accomplished writer who, in addition to novels, has published three fantasy books for children and over five hundred short stories in various genres.
Former crime writer in residence at the St Peter's Riverside Sculpture project in Sunderland, and writer in residence at Northumbria University, he won the 1998 British Fantasy Award and The Northern Writers Award 2000. He lives in Newcastle on Tyne with two cats and a famous teddy bear.
Peter Kalu is well known as a poet, novelist, playwright and script writer. He has been a storyteller for eight years, conducting over one hundred storytelling sessions, and entertaining and educating over 30,000 children and 500 adults per year. He started writing as a member of the Moss Side Write black writers workshop and has had five novels, two film scripts and three theatre plays produced to date.
His novels have sold over 40,000 copies and he has won many awards including those for theatre writing (Winner, BBC-Contact Theatre Dangerous Comedy Award 2003) radio plays (BBC Young Playwrights Festival) novels (New Horizons Award, K Blundell Trust Award) film (Liverpool Black Film Festival Award) poetry (Chances Award) and short stories (Cultureword Short Story Prize). He organised the National Black Writers Conferences in Manchester in 2004, 2000 and the National Asian Writers Conference in Oldham in 1997. He lives in Manchester and runs a Hulme based Carnival Band called Moko Jumbi which takes to the streets at Manchester Carnival every year in July on three feet high stilts!
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2000 & Beyond