Arts & Culture
Intersection: Poetry and Prose – Derek Owusu in conversation
- 7:00 pm
18 January 2023
Online | Free
Derek Owusu is an award-winning writer and poet from North London. Owusu has written poetry and short stories for the BBC and ITV and regularly features on literary prize judging panels. In 2019, Owusu collated, edited and contributed to SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, an anthology exploring the experiences of Black men in Britain. His first novel, That Reminds Me, and the first work of fiction to be published by Stormzy’s Merky Books imprint, won the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction, the judges praising it as a ‘transcendent work of literature.’
In 2020, Owusu was one of the founding members of the Black Writers Guild, whose formation was due to the lack of representation and inequalities that exist within mainstream publishing in the UK. His second novel, Losing the Plot, was published in November 2022. Owusu graduated from Brunel University London with an MA Creative Writing in 2022.
Professor Benjamin Zephaniah was one of the pioneers of performance poetry in Britain as a Dub Poet – a poet that works alongside reggae music. He has spent most of his life performing around the world in schools, universities, concert halls, and in public spaces. His poetry is noted for mixing serious issues with humour, and being accessible to a wide range of people. He is able to perform in children’s nurseries or political rallies, and his strongest area of interest is looking at how poetry works in performance and its relationship to music. He has also written novels for young adults, and plays for radio and stage.
Although his music is rooted in reggae, his recordings now have many influences including, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Dubstep. He contributes to many radio programmes and has presented documentaries on radio and television concerning literature, culture, race and politics. He has been writer in residence at Keats House (London), Memphis State University, Ohio State University, and also worked at Shanghai Tongji University, The Women’s University Seoul, Pyongyang University North Korea, University of Witwatersrand Johannesburg, and visiting professor at De Montfort University. He has also worked with The University of Birmingham and The Open University encouraging young people to take up higher education. His recent releases include a music album called Revolutionary Minds, and his autobiography, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, which was shortlisted for both the National Book Awards and the Costa Book Award.
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Header image: Author Derek Owusu © Josima Senior