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What's on


Photo of Jean 'Binta' Breeze

Photo of Jean 'Binta' Breeze

2 MAY: Jean 'Binta' Breeze at Stratford Literature Festival

Acclaimed poet Jean 'Binta' Breeze presents a selection of work past and present at an event for Stratford-upon-Avon Literature Festival, followed by a book signing.  Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE is an internationally renowned Jamaican ‘Dub’ poet, director and playwright.  Her words carry powerful political and personal messages, and audiences relate to and are inspired by her work.  She was the recipient of an MBE for Services to Literature in 2012, and has also received a NESTA Award for her work.

Patience Agbabi by Lyndon Douglas

Patience Agbabi by Lyndon Douglas

Telling Tales

the new poetry collection by Patience Agbabi

Telling Tales is a re-interpretation of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales for 21st century readers and audiences, from one of the UK's foremost poets.

What they say

"A pilgrimage of punks, badasses, broken hearts, beat poets, silver-tongued fixers, town criers, beauties, sinners…A poem on wheels."  Jeanette Winterson

“The liveliest versions of Chaucer you're likely to read." Simon Armitage

 “A compelling collection of story-portraits, at once contemporary and time-honoured. A wonderful achievement.” Andrew Motion

“Telling Tales is a brilliant, virtuosic take on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales… a landmark book that extends the domain of poetry. Forget the division between live and page. This is live on the page”  George Szirtes

“Chaucer would have been proud of what he has inspired... Patience Agbabi has brilliantly created a Canterbury tales for a multicultural Britain.. in rap, sestina, sonnets and rhyme royal.” Helen Cooper, Professor of Medieval & Renaissance Studies, University of Cambridge

About the author

Patience Agbabi was born in London to parents from Nigeria and Benin and grew up in Colwyn Bay, Wales with white foster parents.  She is the author of three collections, R.A.W, Transformatrix and Bloodshot Monochrome, the last two that were published by Canongate to great acclaim.  Patience is a former Poet Laureate of Canterbury, and her poems have appeared on radio and TV around the world.  She has toured widely with the British Council and independently and lives in Kent.


A snapshot of our events in 2013

Photo of Mark Gwynne Jones

Photo of Mark Gwynne Jones

18 OCTOBER: We Talk of Pride and Prejudice

A spoken word event for Off The Shelf Festival

renaissance one presents WE TALK OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, a unique Literature and Spoken Word show in which a talented group of local writers aged 15 to 21 years share a stage with leading poets Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE, Mark Gwynne Jones and Sureshot and all offer their own personal take on the theme of Pride and Prejudice. This show offers playful, witty, soulful and provocative responses to the Jane Austen novel and the book’s central themes in its bicentenary year.  It is part of a new intergenerational project for Sheffield residents and artists to engage them in literature, orality and sharing stories, and is developed by renaissance one in partnership with Writing Yorkshire and Off The Shelf. 

Photo of Jessica Care Moore

Photo of Jessica Care Moore


a forum for creativity, connecting and sharing

Creative Salon is a relaxing and stimulating forum for all who work in, support, or are interested in, poetry and spoken word. At our last salon, the US-based poet, publisher and rock star Jessica Care Moore offered her insights on developing a career in writing and performance followed by a group discussion.  Jessica was brought up in and still resides in Detroit, and she is a contributor to the city's burgeoning arts and activism scene. Read more about Creative Salon here


Photo of James Berry

Photo of James Berry

FRIDAY 27 SEPTEMBER: A Benefit Performance

A STORY I AM IN: Poetry, Music & Spoken Word celebrating James Berry’s Life in Literature

On 27 September, The James Berry Fundraising Project and renaissance one presented A Story I Am In, a special benefit at the Tabernacle for poet James Berry.  Thank you to all who attended and supported this event.  In the coming weeks we will notify attendees of the event's outcomes and our plans for future activity to generate awareness, funds and tributes for this remarkable poet.

Berry celebrates 90 years of poetry, stories and song in 2014.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nine years ago, and has been in residential care for over two years, five different care homes and has spent four months in hospital. Despite the serious nature of his illness, he continues to enjoy listening to poetry and talking about everything under the sun.  In this special fundraising benefit at the Tabernacle, nineteen outstanding poets, musician, performers and wordsmiths shared a stage to mark Berry’s life in words and bear witness to his contribution to the national, Caribbean and international literary landscapes.

Featuring Roger McGough, Grace Nichols, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ian McMillan, Maura Dooley, Andrew Motion, Michael Rosen, Hannah Lowe, John Agard, arroll Thompson, Victor Romero Evans, Janet Kay, Michael Horovitz, Inua Ellams, Dean Atta, Susanna Howard, Myra Barrs, Alastair Niven, Melanie Abrahams and James Ingham, and Keith Waithe

Tickets £45.  Early Bird ticket £35. All Proceeds from the event go to the James Berry Trust.  Event produced by renaissance one in partnership with the Carnival Village Trust, Living Words and English Pen.


Come hear Tanti Merle at de Oval and other stories from an international raconteur

"Paul Keens-Douglas celebrates our rich cultural amalgam and Caribbean landscapes like nobody else does"

Tilt and the Tabernacle presents two nights of PAUL KEENS-DOUGLAS, an Trinidadian storyteller, raconteur and public speaker who is also creator of the famous annual Carnival Talk Tent in Trinidad. He is a recipient of a Zora Neale Hurston Award and the Humming Bird Silver Medal for Culture. He was a guest artist at last year's London Is The Place For Me festival which was part of a summer 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Village that was initiated and presented by the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission. Bookings open this week!

1 Feb: Hannah Lowe and renaissance one presents Book Launch: Chick by Hannah Lowe

Jamaican High Commission

HANNAH LOWE’s first book of poems takes you on a personal journey, and exploration of, her father, a Chinese-Black Jamaican migrant who disappeared at night to play cards or dice in London's old East End to support his family. Chick was his gambling nickname.  With London as the backdrop to the poems, Hannah Lowe's narrative is often filmic in effect and brimming with sensory detail in their evocations of childhood and coming-of-age, love and loss of love, grief and regret.

What they say...‘...An extraordinary debut...a poet with a commanding style; her voice is entirely her own, both rich and laconic. These are poems springing from the page with vitality, rue and insight. Her elegies are restrained and devastating. ’ Penelope Shuttle.

Time: 6.30pm - 9pm
Venue: Jamaican High Commission, 1 Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ Admission: Free. 

7 OCT 2012: Black Beats: Amiri Baraka in Conversation

Tilt, renaissance one and the British Library present AMIRI BARAKA.

Before the Beats there was Jazz poetry.  Experience an unmissable visit by the world-renowned poet, a leading figure of the evolution of the spoken word genre, who has influenced politics, artistic practice and cultural change on an international scale.  During this event, Baraka will be offering readings and performance from the rich collection of his work.  The reading will be preceded by a Q & A between Baraka and Dr Corinne Fowler on his career and influences.

His controversial career spans five decades: from his involvement with Jack Kerouac and the Beats in the 1960s through Black cultural nationalism to collaboration with the hip-hop group The Roots.

'As a contemporary American artist Baraka must be ranked with the likes of John Coltrane, Ralph Ellison…; as the Father of the Black Arts Movement'. William J. Harris

Baraka will introduced by Corinne Fowler, a Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester, UK. He will then be offering readings and performance from the rich collection of his work.

Photo of Kwame Dawes

(Catch him on the 2nd and 5th of Oct)

Photo of Kwame Dawes

5 OCT 2012: JUBILATION! Celebrating 50 Years of Jamaican Independence

Kwame Dawes, Mervyn Morris, Janett Plummer, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Kay Remedy

Enjoy an evening of poetry, songs and readings marking the 50th birthday of Jamaica's independence and the publication of a major new anthology, Jubilation!

Two of the best-known Jamaican poets, MERVYN MORRIS and KWAME DAWES, are joined by writer JANETT PLUMMER, musician AYANNA and singer-songwriter KAY REMEDY, to reflect on the historical moment of independence and the years that have followed.

Kwame Dawes is a distinguished international poet, a writer of over thirty books and an accomplished playwright, producer, actor and singer. Born in Ghana and raised in Jamaica, he is a winner of awards including an Emmy Award and the Forward Prize.

Kwame Dawes is one of the most important writers of his generation ….a mighty and lasting body of work...”. Elizabeth Alexander (Poet, Inaugural Ceremony, President Obama)

Mervyn Morris is an established Jamaican poet, published by among others the prestigious Carcanet publishing house. In 1992 he was Visiting Writer- in-Residence at the South Bank Centre and he is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies.

An engraver in short, sharp, slashes that go deep”. Andrew Salkey

Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Venue: Conference Centre, British Library

Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

For more information and booking, click here


Britain re-mapped through a selection of writing on place

renaissance one and the British Library presents an evening of poetry and prose with some of Britain’s best Black and Asian poets. Celebrating the re-mapping of Britain created through Out of Bounds, a new poetry anthology from Bloodaxe Books edited by Jackie Kay, James Procter and Gemma Robinson, you are invited to help us launch the book in London, and join us on a riveting sensory journey from Aberdeen to Isle of Wight with readings by acclaimed poets and writers JOHN AGARD, GRACE NICHOLS, DALJIT NAGRA and CAROL LEEMING.

6.30pm - 8pm Tickets £7.50/£5 concessions.

Image - Carol_Leeming_1.jpg
Photo of Roger Robinson (See him at Talk Time: Independence! 18 Aug)

Photo of Roger Robinson (See him at Talk Time: Independence! 18 Aug and 19 Aug, at 4 pm. More details below.)


Trinidad and Tobago 50 Years Independence Festival

London Is the Place For Me festival commemorates and celebrates 50 years of Trinidad and Tobago independence at the Tricycle Theatre from Sun 12 - Sat 25 August.This two week happening offers some of T & T's finest artists, thinkers and shapers including EARL LOVELACE, DEBRA ROMAIN, PAUL KEENS DOUGLAS, ALEXANDER D GREAT, MARTINA LAIRD, LAWRENCE SCOTT, MONIQUE ROFFEY, AMANDA SMYTH, ANTHONY JOSEPH, ROGER ROBINSON and a book launch of THE POEMS OF SAM SELVON. Curated by MELANIE ABRAHAMS and DOMINIQUE LE GENDRE.

Please view/book events here.


Invitation to A Great Day In Britain - 25 Years On

Invitation to A Great Day In Britain - 25 Years On

10 JUNE 2012: A Great Day In Britain - 25 Years On

A quarter of a century of advancing political representation

The Bernie Grant Trust in association with Bernie Grant Arts Centre and renaissance one invites you to commemorate
A Great Day In Britain - 25 Years On
A reunion and celebration of progress marking a quarter of a century of advancing political representation
5.30pm to 9pm at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre N15 4RX
offers Reunion, Commemoration, Food, Music, Film, Spoken Word and more, including performances by Shazia Mirza, Alexander D Great and Adisa
Free admission, RSVP to renaissance one.

Photo of Jasmine Cooray (Extreme Happy Fair)

Photo of Jasmine Cooray (Extreme Happy Fair)


John Hegley, Jasmine Cooray, Prince Abdi, Jonny Blamey, Philip Wells & more

Saturday 2 June at 6pm

EXTREME HAPPY FAIR: a ‘spoken word fair' of speech juggling, poetry, live art, lucky dips, philosophy, and jam. Featuring Poet In Residence John Hegley, poet Jasmine Cooray, Comedian Prince Abdi, THE EXTREME HAPPINESS EXPERIMENT by Mesmer, Mystic, Philosopher and Magician Jonny Blamey, poet Philip Wells and other assorted guests.  Free, BOOK HERE

14 May & 16 May 2012: Pete (the temp) Verses Climate Change

Poet tries to solve climate change using only his mouth!

‘Poetry’s answer to Mark Thomas…expert performance skills’ Chortle

Pete The Temp (BA, MA, PhD, PDF) is a poet, a lover and a damn fine administrator.  Watch him solve the climate change using only his mouth!  High octane spoken word meets musical comedy, political commentary, and audience participation in this hour long show. 

14 and 16 May at 8pm: The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, London SE8 4AG Tickets £7/£5

About Pete The Temp: Pete has shared a stage with Bill Bailey, Mark Thomas, Stewart Lee, Josie Long, John  Hegley, Elvis  McGonnagal and Howard Marx and performed at over 20 festivals – Edinburgh, Oxford, Bristol and Brighton Fringe - making him about as common a feature in a festival field as a porter loo.

Visit Pete's website HERE

Show produced by renaissance one, in association with Apples and Snakes, The Albany and the Cockpit Theatre, and is supported by Arts Council England.


renaissance one on Vox Africa

Earlier this year renaissance one teamed up with Vox Africa who produce the 'Shoot The Messenger' magazine show, to develop three arts segments presenting the best in spoken word.

The first segment in March offered an insight into Caribbean spoken word and Jamaican folklorist Louise Bennett click here to watch

The April segment featured writer-performer Adisa click here to watch

The May-June segment featured Jean 'Binta' Breeze

The show is broadcast on Sundays at 13:00 GMT on Sky Channel 218 and on demand via www.voxafrica.co.ukwww.voxafrica.co.uk/st.  Watch it here

Patience Agbabi England Tour 2014

April to October: giving readings of her brand new poetry collection TELLING TALES

Setting off from Southwark on a journey that passes through unmissable landmarks on the trail of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and which includes some exhilarating detours en route, poet Patience Agbabi will present her new book at the following venues

10 April  SOUTHWARK  Book Launch       Chaucer: Modern Echoes at Southwark Cathedral with readings by Patience Agbabi and Lavinia Greenlaw, presented by Poet in the City

12 April  GRASMERE Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry

17 April  BRISTOL Bristol Poetry Festival at Arnolfini           

15 May  LONDON The Idler presents Telling Tales

21 May  DEPTFORD  Telling Tales Slam Live with special guest poets.  Presented by Apples and Snakes, Tilt and The Albany

6 June  GRAVESEND Local launch at The Bridewell, presented by Gravesend Old Town Hall.

17 June  PETERSFIELD Write Angle presents a reading at Upstairs @ The Square Brewery, tickets are available on the door

22 June  BRADFORD Poetry in the City at the World Curry Festival, presented by Ilkley Literature Festival

25 June  ROCHESTER 21st Century Canterbury Tales.  Presented by Rochester Cathedral.

13 September  WINCHESTER Winchester Poetry Festival 

9 October  BIRMINGHAM Birmingham Literature Festival presents a reading with Patience Agbabi and Lavinia Greenlaw

11 October  ILKLEY  Ilkley Literature Festival

12 October  SHEFFIELD  Off the Shelf Festival of Words

13 October  HALESWORTH Halesworth Arts Festival

16 October  MANCHESTER Manchester Literature Festival

29 October  CANTERBURY (TOUR FINALE): Canterbury Festival presents an event at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge

Please email renaissance one at hq[at]renaissanceone.co.uk if you would like further information or you have a query.