Sunday, 22 November 2015

I have moved my activity to my new site, where you can see all my recent shapes & disfigurements. I have started a new video series called #RayRecommends where I talk poetry & fiction.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chill Pill Christmas Special 17th Dec at The Albany

17th Dec at The Albany
DO NOT MISS London's biggest poetry Christmas party at The Albany. We’re introducing local singer-songwriter Sarah Williams White who has been described as ‘raw, funky-rootsy slice of entertainment’ by Metro. To add to this all-star line-up Ross Sutherland will be performing his poetry which was shortlisted for the 2015 Arts Foundation Award for Poetry. Megan Beech, who featured on the Guardian’s list of Inspiring Young Feminists of 2014, will also be gracing the stage with her enigmatic prose and last but not least Bridget Minamore, shortlisted as one of London’s first Young Poet Laureate's will be performing, making this is night not to miss.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Chill Pill, Southbank's Being A Man Festival, Sunday Assembly and 2000 hits on youtube...

October was a very eventful month after reading's in Bristol, Leicester, Sweden and around London. I am now officially appointed as one of six London Laureates ( and was mentioned in The Guardian as one of Michael Rosen's Cultural Highlights as well as The Independent on National Poetry Day.

I also just had a few poems from The Island That's Hard To Find In English accepted for publication in The Rialto, Oxford Diaspora's Programme, Magma, Morning Star and University of Arkansas Press

One more thing...The First Time I Wore Hearing Aids just reached over 2000 hits on youtube, so thank you all for that.


Chill Pill November 10th
Chill Pill are proud to be hosting three poets from Sweden - Oskar HanskaHenry Bowers and Sam Kessel at QBIC Hotel for an international special. Also, this show is FREE!

BAM Festival at Southbank 27th Nov

I will be appearing on a panel selected by BBC Radio One host, Gemma Cairney to discuss masculinity, education and boyhood. 

5th Dec
I will be poem'ing at Sunday Assembly, Conway Hall. I have appeared previously with Sunday Assembly at Wilderness Festival, an honour to join them in London this time around.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Upcoming Shows - Ordspark Poetry Festival (Uppsala, Sweden) Southbank, Ronnie Scott's, Jamaica Rising at Bristol Literature Festival...

Proud to be included in Goldsmith University's exhibition that acknowledges 14 black British poets 

1st - 3rd October
I'll be performing and reading poetry in Uppsala Sweden alongside Sage Francis, Ian Ewok Robinson, Deanna Rodger, Henry Bowers and more...

National Poetry Day (Light show)
I have been commissioned to write three new poems around the theme of light which will be debuted at Southbank Centre on National Poetry Day.

11th October, Ronnie Scott's
Returning to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Verse Jukebox with Jumoke Fashola.

October 15th Tongue Fu, Rich Mix

October 21st, Jamaica Rising at Bristol Festival of Literature
I'm very much looking forward to sharing poems and speaking about Jamaican British identity in Bristol. Tickets -

Why Not Strive? - The Rights Of The Child Festival at Southbank. October 23rd, 7pm

Southbank, Oct 23rd
28th October, Leicester
30th October at London Review Bookshop alongside Daljit Nagra
Another poem from 'The Island That's Hard To Find In English' has been accepted for publication, this time in Magma poetry magazine. I will be reading alongside Daljit Nagra

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Storymoja Festival (Kenya, Nairobi) Chill Pill (London, The Albany)

Proud to announce that I'm flying to Kenya to take part in the Storymoja Festival with the British Council. I will be meeting local students from 10 - 14 year olds as well as collaborating with local poets and reading my own poetry. (

Sep 17th at The Albany
Tickets -
Also, Chill Pill is back. Although I will be in Kenya, if you're in London you must go! We're featuring poet, Kayo Chingonyi with live music from FUR. Also more from the OPEN MIC.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Tony Blair Speech On In Which He Apologises For Britain’s Role In The Slave Trade

Nov 27th 2006, Tony Blair Commemorates 200 years since the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade In The UK 

The transatlantic slave trade stands as one of the most inhuman enterprises in history At a time when the capitals of Europe and America championed the Enlightenment of man, their merchants were enslaving a continent. Racism, not the rights of man, rove the horrors of the triangular trade. Some 12 million were transported Some three million died.
Slavery's impact upon Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe was profound. Thankfully, Britain was the first country to abolish the trade. As we approach the commemoration for the 200th anniversary of that abolition, it is only right we also recognise the active role Britain played until then in the slave trade. British industry and ports were intimately intertwined in it. Britain's rise to global pre-eminence was partially dependent on a system of colonia slave labour and, as we recall its abolition, we should also recall our place in its practice.

It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time. Personally I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was - how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition, but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened, that it ever could have happened and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today.

The people who fought against slavery came from all walks of life. They included slaves and former slaves like Olaudah Aquiano, church leaders, statesmen like William Wilberforce and countless ordinary citizens who signed petitions, marched, lobbied and prayed for change. The bicentenary is an opportunity for us all to remember those who were bought and sold into slavery and those who struggled against its injustices.

Community, faith and cultural organisations, with the support in many cases of the Heritage Lottery Fund, are already planning events to mark the bicentenary. We in Government, with local authorities, will be playing our full part. And the UK is co-sponsoring a resolution in the UN General Assembly, put forward by Caribbean countries, which calls for special commemorative activities to be held by the United Nations to mark the occasion.

We also need, while reflecting on the past, to acknowledge the unspeakable cruelty that persists in the form of modern day slavery. Today slavery comes in many guises around the world - such as bonded labour, forced recruitment of child soldiers and human trafficking - and at its root is poverty and social exclusion.

We also need to respond to the problems of Africa and the challenges facing the African and Caribbean diaspora today. Africa, of course, is a place of great beauty, fantastic diversity and a resilient and talented people with enormous potential. It is also the only continent getting poorer and where, in many places, life expectancy is falling.

But the world is now focussing, not least because of the G8 summit and the Make Poverty History campaign, on how we can help Africa tackle its problems. Agreement was reached to double aid to Africa by 2010, to write off the debts of the poorest countries and massively to increase funding to tackle AIDS and improve healthcare and education.

Britain is playing its full part both through increasing bilateral aid and through international leadership. The International Finance Facility for Immunisation, which we have launched, should save five million children a year.

All this is making a difference. Debt relief is already beginning to flow. It has, for example, enabled Zambia to scrap charges for health care. This is taking place in partnership with African Governments and their people. But there is a great deal more to do.

At home, the bicentenary is also an opportunity for us to pause and consider the enormous contribution today of Black African and Caribbean communities to our nation. Britain is richer in every way - for example, in business, politics, sport, the arts and science - because of the part played by these communities in every aspect of our national life. But even 30 years after Labour introduced the groundbreaking Race Relations Act and set up the Commission for Racial Equality, there are still barriers to overcome before everyone can make the most of their talents and potential.

government, we are investing in tackling inequality in education, health, employment, housing and the criminal justice system. I want to see a future in which everyone can achieve their full potential. Earlier this week, a group of young people from Bristol, Hull and Liverpool visited the capital at the invitation of the DeAcross puty Prime Minister and I know that our schools and colleges will play a big role in next year's commemorations and legacy events.

This bicentenary must also be a spur for us to redouble our efforts to stop human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.

But, above all, this 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade is a chance for all of us to increase our understanding of the heritage we share, celebrate the richness of our diversity and increase our determination to shape the world with the values we share.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Simon Armitage, The Last Poets & Cultural Appropriation

 "Screaming "brand new", when they just sanitized the old shit" - Mos Def
I’m a fan of Simon Armitage. I have studied his poetry and taught it to GCSE students in Hackney classrooms and often, students appreciate poems like ‘Harmonium’. It’s a rich prompt to get students to think of what can come to symbolise a relationship, from a worn out piano to an unsung father figure. I’m also glad for his new position as Oxford professor of poetry. When this was announced, The Telegraph picked up on Armitage stating he; 

“Will use rap and hip hop to explore the definition of modern poetry so the literary form is not thought of "as a museum". 

A contentious statement, but for the most part he is right to point out that rap and Hip-Hop culture are relevant to western poetry traditions, I don’t feel the need to explain why and how, we’re beyond that argument nowWhat I did find interesting is when Armitage states;

We might need to consider what constitutes poetry, and rap might be one of the answers. If it comes up I'll probably talk about Kate Tempest - though she might be hip hop.”

Really? Kate Tempest is his entry point to validate the bridge between rap and poetry? I know Kate, I think even she would be embarrassed by this remark, but even though I understand Armitage’s intention, you got to be aware of the consistency in which black culture is appropriated by white mainstream media and why there is a carelessness to this statement, as Oxford Laureate, there is new volumes in his voice. Armitage does go on to say he wants the next person taking his place to be a woman, so in a way he could be setting up the stage for someone like Kate to be considered, very noble of him.

Last week I performed at Latitude, standing backstage with Bohdan Piasecki when Simon Armitage walked into the room and I was like “Shit, Simon Armitage!" I had so much to say to him but where do I start, how could I not come across as awkwardly overeager?” Then, as sudden as Simon appeared, the members from The Last Poets walked in and sat on the sofa, brushing past Simon, who now had nowhere to sit.

Hopefully I don't need to explain who The Last Poets are, but they are basically, alongside Gil Scott Heron, DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, credited among the pioneers of Hip-Hop culture in America. I had to take a minute to take in that these men were in the same room, not knowing the significance of the other and I, a poet and lover of Hip-Hop, could've taken the responsibility of introducing these two missing links and probably done more for poetry in the UK than any essay I’ll ever write.

That bridge Simon was building between rap and poetry, a lot of that was built by the guys from the other side of the Atlantic, who had just taken his place on the sofa. If only I had taken that picture, it would’ve been the poetry equivalent of John Lennon meeting Chuck Berry. The difference there is John Lennon understood the issue of cultural appropriation and famously, when asked if he was inspired by black music, Lennon stated, “of course, is there any other kind of music?”.

I’m not saying poetry is a “black” thing, that would be ridiculous, language isn’t racial, it’s cultural. I’m saying, if Simon Armitage is going to talk about under representation and feel a need to rethink our relationship with the ideas of what poetry is, who it is by and who it belongs to, he must go all the way and perhaps educate himself on the subject before he becomes another white man claiming his people invented something they didn’t.

Source -

Didn't get to speak to Simon Armitage but I did speak with The Last Poets and Eimear Mcbride

If you are interested in further reading, I'd recommend Nate Marshall's Breakbeat Poets Anthology.