Otter-Barry Books celebrate diverse young voices in poetry

Otter-Barry Books celebrate diverse young voices in poetry

Otter-Barry Books and Pop Up Projects are collaborating on a poetry anthology showcasing the work of five début poets from diverse backgrounds, all aged 26 and under.

Rising Stars: New Young Voices in Poetry, supported by Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts programme, will see each poet present eight "edgy, exciting and accessible" poems for 10-14 year-olds on a range of topics, such as community, identity, family and the environment. Poems include an Afro hair haiku and a love letter to the stars.

All of the poets will deliver workshops in schools across the country as part of Pop Up Festival 2018 - an annual national schools literature festival - inspiring young readers to write. 

The contributing "rising stars" to the anthology are Ruth Anwolola, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Abigail Cook, Jay Hulme and Amina Jama, who were all mentored by Joelle Taylor, founder and Artistic Director of SLAMbassadors UK, and have performed heir work through the SLAMbassadors scheme.

Black and white illustrations accompanying the poems were meanwhile provided by final year students from Birmingham City University's illustration course, Riya Chowdhury, Elanor Chuah and Joe Manners.

Dylan Calder, director, Pop Up Projects, praised the anthology for introducing readers to "the brightest lights in poetry today" alongside "outstanding first-time illustrators".

Janetta Otter-Barry, who set up Otter-Barry Books after 30 years at Frances Lincoln (1988 - 2015), called it a "ground-breaking poetry collection for young readers" that was important for championing young BAME and LGBT writers. 

"This is a fantastic project," she said. "Our collaboration with inspirational Pop Up Projects and Arts Council England has enabled us to discover five truly exceptional young poets, all aged 26 and under, and give them a voice in print - as well as three exciting young début illustrators from Birmingham City University. We are immensely proud to publish this ground-breaking poetry collection for young readers." 

Taylor, poet, founder and Artistic Director of SLAMbassadors UK, added: "Rising Stars is a unique addition to the young poetry canon, with an anthology that addresses the vast diversity of people within the UK. Written by some of the brightest emerging poets in the country, the book tackles everyday issues from Afro hair to impending divorce with a delicacy and empathy rarely found. Finally, here is a poetry that readers can see their faces in." 

The collection will publish at the end of this month, on 26th October, priced £6.99. A Pop Up launch event, including performances by all the poets, will follow at Gerry’s reading and writing festival Kitchen, Theatre Royal Stratford East on 21st November.