Patience Agbabi

b. 1965

Patience Agbabi was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017.

Patience Agbabi is a celebrated poet and performer.  She has spent 30 years celebrating the written and spoken word in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, Asia and the USA. Her work often gives voice to the voiceless, bridging the gap between page and stage, high art and popular culture, poetry and prose; paying equal attention to formal structure and the dynamic of performance.

She read English Language and Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford and has an MA with distinction in Creative Writing, the Arts and Education from the University of Sussex. In 2016 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Worcester. She has lectured in Creative Writing at Greenwich, Cardiff and Kent Universities and has delivered readings, lectures and seminars at over 50 universities in the UK and abroad. Since 2008, she has been a Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University. Additionally, she has 25 years’ experience delivering workshops in secondary schools at all levels. Recently she has focused on Sixth Form, either specific Canterbury Tales or her poem Eat Me, a set text for A’ Level English Literature on the Edexcel Examination Board.

In 2004 she was nominated one of the UK’s ‘Next Generation Poets’. Her work has appeared in a broad range of anthologies, on TV and radio, The London Underground and human skin. Her four poetry collections are R.A.W. (Gecko Press, 1995), Transformatrix (Canongate, 2000), Bloodshot Monochrome (Canongate, 2008) and Telling Tales (Canongate 2014).

Active on the literature and arts scene, she was on the Council of Management for Arvon from 2009 to 2016. She has been an advisory group member for Spread the Word’s ‘The Complete Works’ mentoring scheme to promote quality and diversity in British poetry; The Poetry Society; Enitharmon Press and London Arts Board.

Agbabi’s work is inspired by the full spectrum of the arts. She has worked on numerous high-profile multimedia projects including Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 at the National Gallery. This led to delivering public workshops in the gallery and a three-month PSHE Creative Intervention with Year 8 pupils on the painting Diana and Callisto. She has participated in a broad range of residencies from Eton College to Flamin’ Eight, a tattoo and piercing studio in North London; from The Historic Dockyard at Chatham to Harewood House, a stately home on the outskirts of Leeds. There she wrote her poem ‘The Doll’s House’, shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2014. Canterbury Laureate from 2009 to 2010, she received a Grant for the Arts and a development bursary from The Authors Foundation to write a contemporary version of The Canterbury Tales. This fourth collection, Telling Tales, was shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and Wales Book of the Year 2015.

Her poem ‘The Refugee’s Tale’ appeared in The Refugee Tales (Comma Press, 2016) and she participated in a reverse pilgrimage walk from Canterbury to London, to raise awareness around asylum seekers’ issues. She is currently working on her fifth poetry collection.

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