Who We Are
Staff, Trustees & Patrons
Jonathan Davidson has worked for over thirty years in arts management and literature development. He is joint-founder of the Birmingham Literature Festival, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and Director of Midland Creative Projects Limited. He has produced theatre-poetry performances, most recently Beyond the Waters’ Edge with the Belgrade Theatre and Bloodaxe Books, and his radio plays have been regularly broadcast on BBC Radios 3 and 4. Jonathan is also a writer, with many publications to his name, most recently the poetry memoir On Poetry (Smith|Doorstop, 2018.) and the collection A Commonplace (Smith|Doorstop, 2020). He has for a number of years been Chair of the National Association of Writers in Education, although he will stand down in 2021. He is on advisory panels for publisher The Poetry Business, the LGBTQ+ writer training initiative Out on the Page and the Muslim Arts & Culture Festival and on the Birmingham & Midland Institute’s Governance and Road Map Committees. He has two grown-up children and lives in Birmingham.
Learning & Participation Manager
Emma has worked in arts administration since graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music with a degree in music. Emma has worked with writers for over 20 years, including at Cheltenham Literature Festival, and she worked at the Society of Authors for over ten years.
Creative Producer / Festival Director
Shantel has worked within the arts in higher education since 2013. In 2019, she completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, focusing on contemporary British fiction and the marketing of race. She is an avid reader, native of Birmingham and passionate Birmingham Literature Festival attendee.
Programmes and Marketing Assistant
Amelia graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA in English Literature & Theatre Studies, focusing on movement direction and physical theatre. She is originally from London and has worked with numerous arts organisations on projects in the West Midlands.
Peggy has been managing our finances since 2010, supplying accounting, VAT, credit control and payroll services. Until 2021 she was freelance with her own bookkeeping practice, servicing a variety of clients from a cross section of business sectors of all sizes. She now looks after the accounts of a number of our partner organisations and is the treasurer for the West Midlands Readers’ Network. She has a keen interest in theatre and performance art and has two grown up children.
Board of Trustees
Nikki is Programme Lead at Civic Square, Birmingham, where she curates a regular programme of book events, film nights and festivals. Prior to this, Nikki worked in reader development for Birmingham Libraries with the remit of broadening the reader experience across the library network. She also managed the Birmingham Poet Laureate scheme and Birmingham Fringe Festival. Nikki was the inaugural recipient of the national PPC Librarian of the Year Award, an award established within the publishing industry recognising the work that libraries do with readers. More recently, she was also the inaugural Reader in Residence at Birmingham Literature Festival 2018.
George Bastow is a freelance writer, journalist and blogger at Books, Films and Random Lunacy. He was a speaker at the National Writers’ Conference 2019 and a guest at The Tamworth Literary Festival’s GeekFest in 2017. George is a full-time wheelchair user and regularly writes pieces on disability and health for wellbeingforwriters.com. He is currently the Assistant Writer at the Tamworth Spark Young Writers Group.
More information coming soon.
Maeve Clarke is a novelist and short story writer from Birmingham. She also writes for theatre. Her work has been published in various anthologies, including Whispers in the Walls, Midnight Listening, Free Reads, Women and Work – Monologues, A Sea Change and Sounds that exceed 80 Decibels.
Maeve is one of the writers for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
Rob Elkington is the Chief Executive of Arts Connect. Rob's career started at The Play House, a drama and theatre company for young people based in Birmingham, where he rose to Executive Director. He was Director of Creative Partnerships in Birmingham from 2004 to 2008, leaving to undertake a Clore Fellowship where he was Learning Fellow. Before joining Arts Connect he was Head of Education Partnerships at the Royal Shakespeare Company, responsible for leading meaningful partnership programmes with schools, theatres and universities across the country and beyond. He is also a Director of the Victoria Park Academy Trust, a Trustee of the Children’s University and Chair of Stan’s Cafe.
Thomas Glave is an American author who has published widely and won numerous awards. He is also a university professor.
Gregory Leadbetter is a poet and critic. He is the author of two poetry collections, Maskwork (2020) and The Fetch (2016), both with Nine Arches Press, as well as the pamphlet The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007), and (with photographs by Phil Thomson) Balanuve (Broken Sleep, 2021). His book Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) won the University English Book Prize 2012, and he publishes widely on Romantic poetry and thought, twentieth-century and contemporary poetry. He has written both poetry and radio drama for the BBC. He is Professor of Poetry at Birmingham City University.
Sandra van Lente
More information coming soon.
Associate Board Member
A Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University, UK, Ceri Morgan works on literary geographies, place-writing, geopoetics (site-responsive creative practices), walking studies, and GeoHumanities. She is currently working on Québec’s ‘regional’ fiction – a companion project to her monograph, Mindscapes of Montreal (University of Wales Press, 2012). Since 2014, Morgan has worked increasingly on geopoetics as a participatory practice, and has led community workshops on themes like mining, food, reading, plastics, and deindustrialisation. In 2017, she founded a walking-reading/walking-writing group, called the Dawdlers. A collaboration with immersive performance company, Restoke, resulted in Seams (2018), a show about mining performed by a small number of professional dancers and singers, the Dawdlers, and community participants. Morgan has published some fiction, creative nonfiction, and prose-poetry, notably in Littoral (2017) and GeoHumanities (2019). She is currently working on ‘Circling’ – a project on geopoetics, screendance, and chronic pain – in collaboration with screendance artist, Anna Macdonald.
John is a Trustee with three Charities, a mentor for Aston University Engineering Academy and provides job seeker training with Shaw Trust. Before retirement, John was employed in various roles in both the Public and private sectors including N.H.S. Local Government, Charities, Probation Service and Housing Associations. John is a vocal advocate of Writing West Midlands’ aims and aspirations, particularly in connection with reaching out to the underrepresented sectors of society. He enjoys writing short stories.
Laura is an Associate Solicitor in the Employment Team at Irwin Mitchell LLP in Birmingham having graduated from Coventry University with a first class law degree in 2013. She has a passion for the arts and spent many years performing in the Palace Youth Theatre, taking part in numerous stage productions. Laura is an avid reader and enjoys nothing more than a good book.
Liz Berry is a poet from the Black Country who now lives in Birmingham. Liz’s debut poetry collection, Black Country, received the Forward Prize for Best First Collection Winner 2014, Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award. Liz’s second collection is The Republic of Motherhood, for which Liz won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018 for the title poem. Liz also works as a tutor for organisations such as the Arvon Foundation and Writing West Midlands.
Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, author, columnist and journalist. He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 6Music and has written and presents dozens of other shows on BBC Radio. His books include The Pie at Night, The People’s Songs, Hope and Glory, Adventures on the High Teas, Pies and Prejudice and Cider with Roadies. www.stuartmaconie.com.
Sathnam Sanghera is a journalist and author from Wolverhampton, whose memoir The Boy with the Topknot is based on his familial history and Sikh upbringing, was named the Mind Book of the Year in 2009. The Boy with the Topknot was also shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award and the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and was later adapted for TV and broadcast on BBC2 in November 2017. Now based in London, Sathnam continues to write and has released titles such as If You Don’t Know Me By Now and Marriage Material. Alongside this, Sathnam has been a judge for The Wellcome Book Prize and The Costa Book Awards, a former trustee for mental health charity Rethink, the chair of media charity Creative Access and a guest curator of the Birmingham Literature Festival.
Kit de Waal
Kit de Waal, a Birmingham-born writer of Irish and Caribbean descent, is an award-winning writer and former magistrate. Her book, My Name is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in 2016 and was awarded the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 as well as being shortlisted for several other prizes. Kit released two more books with Penguin, Six Foot Six and The Trick to Time, and also established the Kit de Waal Scholarship to improve working-class representation in the arts by funding a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, University of London.