Poet Sessions #4 at Library, Covent Garden – March 25th, 2015

For the past two years I’ve been working on a new book of poems. The book is called Kumukanda which roughly translates from Luvale, my father’s mother tongue, as ‘the initiation’ or just ‘initiation’. It’s the name given to the rites a young Luvale boy passes through before he is considered a man. There are a few resources on the Makishi, the festival that marks the end of Kumukanda, online. In putting the book together I wanted to think about the rites that immigrants and exiles pass through in the absence of their native culture.

In my own experience, occupying a number of, seemingly mutually exclusive subjectivities (yes, I have been reading Paul Gilroy, what gave me away?) has given me a hybrid sensibility. This is clearest in my musical taste which spans from Dolly Parton to Wookie without irony or apology (listen to ‘Battle‘ by the latter and ‘Coat of Many Colours‘ by the former and tell me you’re unmoved). The book is a way of mapping this hybrid sensibility in poems that explore racial classification, literary tradition, the trials and errors of love, bereavement and the history of Garage music.

I have been asked to give a special reading at Library Members’ Club in Covent Garden on March 25th and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to read some new poems from the manuscript in public for the first time. On the evening I’ll be reading the full eleven-part version of my long poem ‘calling a spade a spade’ alongside an alternate take of ‘Passing’ a long poem set in Essex in 2000 when UKG was all over the charts and everybody had lyrics.  I might even sneak in some poems from the dedications series in the book which includes: ‘For those who wait till the moment has passed’, ‘For those who mispronounce my name’, and ‘For those orphaned late in life’.

For details of the event, follow the link:


It would be amazing to see you there, if you’re London-based. If not, see you soon. I am in Ireland and, via live-stream, Austin (TX) in April and Sheffield in May.

New music from my forthcoming EP

Some of you might know that, as well as poems, I write songs. As it happens, it was songwriting that got me into poetry. After taking a break from recording songs I’m happy to be back in the studio working on new material. Here’s a track from an EP I’m working on with Rapsz Katai entitled Trial and Error. You can keep up with my musical output by checking out the music page on this site, where I’ll be posting new stuff.

‘It has to appear like a gift’: an interview with Ahren Warner


In his review of The Salt Book of Younger Poets, Dai George noted that the present seems a particularly good time to be a young British poet. George cites, among other things, the active literary culture to which many twenty-something poets are contributing as evidence of this and, if the sheer number of publications dedicated to this generation is anything to go by, one is apt to believe him.

Though there is some overlap between these publications, what is most striking is the variety of poets they contain. Within this surfeit of names, though, a recurrent figure is Ahren Warner: soon to have a second collection published by Bloodaxe, recently appointed as the new Poetry London editor, winner of the Arts Foundation Fellowship and still a few years shy of 30.

Meet the Artist @ First Floor Portobello

On Wednesday November 14th I’ll be performing a one-off set with musician and storyteller Christine Cooper at First Floor Portobello in Notting Hill (see event details below). Come along if you can. There will poems new and old with a musical backing and I might even preview a song or two…


‘I’m a travelling man…’ pt. 3

My final, full, day in Abu Dhabi (June 6th) started early with me leading workshops for three school groups. It was great fun to work with students with such a highly developed sensibility for poetry. I particularly enjoyed hearing some poems the students had written in the local Nabati style which is so much a part of Emirati culture that the reality TV show celebrating it has been called ‘one of the most successful Arab television shows ever’ . The evening brought a trip to Saadiyat Island for my performance at Artscape of World Cultures. Manarat Al Saadiyat is a beautiful place and it was wonderful to be able to share the stage with so many talented artists and performers. Here is a picture of the entrance to give you a sense of the place: