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Room 204

2017-18 Cohort

Chris Akers was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having written for sport websites for about 3 years until 2011, Chris then turned his hand to poetry.

Chris initially began writing poetry solely for performance, though lately Chris been writing purely for the page.  Performances of his poetry have been in Birmingham, Warwick, Coventry and Edinburgh as well as published on Ink Pantry and in an anthology named Poetry and Paint.

Outside of poetry, Chris is a fan of science fiction and beginning to write in that genre.

Born in Manila, Philippines, Lerah Mae Barcenilla grew up in a small village full of magic, tradition and superstition. Her family moved to Sandwell when she was ten years old.

Her prose and poetry has been published in The Student WordsmithThe Purple Breakfast Review, and PETRie Inventory. She writes about music and films at Culturefly, UnitedKpop, HelloKpop and BeatCraze Events.

Lerah loves literary allusions in Korean music videos, and can talk about the beauty of words, mythology, zodiac signs, philosophy and the unreliability of memory for hours. You can usually find her highly-caffeinated self idly scribbling on a notebook in hipster coffee shops, admiring South East Asian music and their lyrics or taking photographs of cherry blossoms.

Lerah’s website

Twitter: @l_erah

Originally from Northern Ireland, Olga Dermott-Bond studied at the universities of St Andrews and Warwick, and has lived in Warwickshire for fifteen years.

She teaches English and Drama at Rugby High School, and as Head of English enjoys running two creative writing clubs for students, and edits the creative writing magazine Illuminate.

In 2010 she was Warwick Poet Laureate, taking part in the Warwick Words Festival and leading a range of poetry and drama workshops. She has been commissioned to write for Poetry on Loan, and has had poetry and flash fiction published in The Canon’s Mouth, the crime anthology Crooked Holster and Panning for Poems NI. Recently, she was shortlisted in the First Story National Writing competition.

Jasmine Gardosi is a previous winner of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Mix It Up Midlands and International Pangaea Poetry slams. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb and she was recently shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize for Performance and for Birmingham Poet Laureate 2016/18.

A former BBC Arts Young Creative, she has since worked as a Poet in Residence for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as an Emerge Young Artist under The Mighty Creatives, and is collaborating with Autin Dance Theatre on a sexual health show combining dance and spoken word.

Jasmine’s website
Twitter: @jasminegardosi

Roz Goddard is a poet and teacher. She has collaborated on a wide range of poetry projects with organisations including: The Poetry Society, Arts Council England, the International Festival of Glass and Birmingham University.

She has worked for a number of years as poet-in-schools for the Ledbury Poetry Festival. She is a former poet laureate of Birmingham and has published four collections of poems; the most recent, The Sopranos Sonnets and Other Poems (pub: Nine Arches Press) featured on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. She won the New Welsh Review’s inaugural micro fiction comp in 2014 and the Interpreter’s House poetry comp in 2015. Her poetry has been shortlisted and commended for the Bridport Poetry prize, Manchester Cathedral Poetry comp and the Bristol Poetry Prize. Recent work has appeared in The Emma Press anthology, This is not Your Final Form.

Rhoda Greaves is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University and an Associate Editor at Short Fiction magazine.

Her short stories have been commended or listed in several prizes including the Bridport Short Story Prize, Manchester Fiction Prize, Frome Short Story Competition, Bristol Short Story Prize and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, and her work has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies including LitroShort FictionThe View from HereCake, the NFFD anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed and this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology.

Twitter: @rhodagreaves

Stephanie Hutton is a writer and Clinical Psychologist from Stoke-on-Trent. She has published her flash fiction and short stories online and in print.

In 2016 she won the Writers HQ and Bibliophone 1000 Words Heard Competitions, received Highly Commended in the Ink Tears Short Story Contest, was shortlisted for the Brighton Prize for flash fiction and longlisted for the Cardiff Review Short Story Award.

Stephanie believes in the therapeutic value of short fiction. She is one of the founders of The Writing Kiln, who aim to encourage local people to start writing fiction. She is currently working on a novel.

Susan James lives in Redditch and works as a blogger for a same-sex wedding directory. In 2007, she graduated from King’s College London with a degree in War Studies. Susan writes short stories and flash fiction and is now planning a novel.  

She’s been published in Mslexia twice and has been shortlisted in a number of competitions.  

In 2016, she was invited to a salon event in Berlin where she read her short story ‘The Girl That Summer’ in front of an audience; this was ideal as it combined her two passions: writing and travel.

Nina Lewis is a poet from Worcestershire. Originally an actress, she retrained as a teacher. Nina returned to poetry late 2013 after a 15 year break and founded INKSPILL, an annual online writing retreat with National and International Guests.

Nina’s poetry is published in a range of anthologies including Paper Swans Press, Fair Acre Press, and Shabda Press in magazines including AbridgedUnder the Radar and Here Comes Everyone and online in I am Not a Silent PoetNutshells & NuggetsHobo Camp ReviewFat Damsel Take Ten and Zoomoozophone Review. Her pamphlet was accepted for publication in 2015.

Nina’s poems appeared on the Poetry Trail at Wenlock Poetry Festival and BIG Lit Festival and 21 Haiku were used in an Art Installation. Her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press in 2016. 

Nina’s website
Twitter: @Neens07

Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet and brand strategist living in Birmingham. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and has appeared in Under the Radar and The Emma Press Anthology of Love.

When not writing poetry, she loves organising creative events that bring poetry to wider audiences in the city. As Co-Director of Verve, Birmingham’s inaugural poetry and spoken word festival in 2017, she brings to festival to life through lively branding and marketing.

Twitter: @cynthiawmiller

Louise Palfreyman worked as a journalist before turning her attention to short fiction. She has been published in literary journals and anthologies, including: Litro, The View From Here, Hypertext, The Pigeonhole and Best British Short Stories.

She opened the inaugural London Short Story Festival, and has appeared at events across the UK. She mentors short story writers and works with local universities and literary festivals, delivering workshops and readings. 

Louise writes literary fiction and is currently working on a novel. 

She lives in Shropshire.

Louise’s website
Twitter: @tweetybyrde

Ashok Patel was brought up in Leicester and has lived in Aberdeen, Nottingham, London and for the last seventeen years in Birmingham. His training and background has been in the biomedical sciences. He teaches and undertakes research in the area of cell and molecular genetics.

His interest in creative writing began as a way to express his British Indian identity and experiences. He has written a play for BBC R4, which was directed by Vanessa Whitburn. He has had a short play, in the trilogy of 3 short plays under the title The Cornershop, produced by Man Mela theatre company and toured nationally. He is presently working with Futuretheatre company developing a play based on the expulsion of Asians by Idi Amin from Uganda in 1972.

His short story, called Ninety Days, was recently short listed in the Asian Writer Short Story Prize on the theme of borders, boundaries and belonging. The short list is published in an anthology by Dahlia Publishing.

Jane Roberts is a wine and fiction writer based in South Shropshire. Her fiction is published in a variety of anthologies and journals including: LitroBare Fiction Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, Wales Arts Review, NFFD Anthologies, 100 Stories for Haiti, Stories for Homes, and Unthology 9 (2017); Bridport Prize Flash Fiction (2013/2016), Fish Short Story Prize (2015/2016) and Flash Prize (2016) shortlisted; winner of Bloomsbury Writers’ and Artists’ Flash Fiction (2013). She is one third of Literary Salmon (Saboteur Awards Longlisted, “Best Anthology” 2016).

Jane is currently working on a short novel and a short story collection.

Jane’s website
Twitter: @JaneEHRoberts

Anna Selby’s poems often explore our connection with water and the natural world, and are influenced by poetry from Eastern Europe.

She did a Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, was listed as one of five poets to watch by The Huffington Post, and as a top ten cultural innovator by TimeOut.

For the past 10 years she has worked as a writer and collaborator in Dance Theatre. Her poetry-dance pieces have been shortlisted for The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, featured on the BBC Culture Show and tour nationally.

In 2012, she organised Poetry Parnassus festival and co-edited The World Record anthology (Bloodaxe). She worked as Literature and Spoken Word Programmer at the Southbank Centre until 2017 and lives between London and Shropshire.

Twitter: @anna_selby

Rosemary Sgroi lives in Coventry. As a prizewinner in the 2016 Writers’ HQ novel competition she is currently taking a series of Arts Council-funded creative writing courses, and also working on a novel set in late sixteenth-century England.

In her previous career as an academic historian she completed a doctorate at Oxford in 2001, and worked for seven years at the History of Parliament Trust in London.

She has published her own research in various journals, made two short historical documentaries for the BBC, and was an associate fellow at the University of Warwick from 2007-14.