We are delighted to introduce our Room 204 Writers Development Programme 2021/2022 intake, which met online via Zoom in April 2021:
Sujana Crawford is a multilingual poet, playwright and researcher. Sujana’s creative work is driven by a fascination with people, places and folklore. She draws inspiration from her childhood in Nepal, motherhood, and global work experience from as far north as Scotland, to Sri Lanka and India in the South. Sujana’s creative work has been featured in various magazines and anthologies, and plays have been developed through support from Birmingham Rep, Belgrade Theatre, Yellow Coat Theatre, among others. A recipient of British Council and Coventry City of Culture’s International Changemakers Bursary, Sujana is also a Trustee of Talking Birds Theatre. She currently lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two young children.
Mary Cunningham is a poet from Oswestry who has been performing her poetry in the West Midlands and further afield for six years. She has been passionate about poetry from an early age and writes poetry that treads a middle ground between spoken and written word. Her performances have been regarded as “consistently excellent and demonstrate a confidence which is visible to her listeners”. She is a regular at Borders Poetry Writing group, the Shrewsbury Poetry Café and Manchester Speakeasy. In 2019, she took part in a collaboration between artists and poets in the Shrewsbury Encounters exhibition at the Van Gallery and has performed alongside well-known poets from the Midlands at festivals and events. She publishes her work online via her website and IGTV channel.
Abigail Edge is a writer and journalist whose work has been published in the Guardian, BBC News, and Vice. She is a co-founder/director of the Society of Freelance Journalists and a visiting journalism lecturer at City, University of London. Abigail published several short stories while at university. She is currently working on her first book — a dramatic true story about coercive control, told in the form of a thriller. Abigail grew up in the Black Country and after spells living in Bristol, London, and Denver, Colorado, now resides in Moseley with a ginger rescue cat named Dylan.
Twitter & Instagram: @abigailedge
Anneka French is a writer and independent visual arts curator currently working with Coventry Biennial. She writes reviews and essays for publications including Art Quarterly and Photomonitor, and has had recent experimental writing and poetry commissions for Photoworks+, Grain Projects, Creative Black Country and Living Memory. She spent four years as Co-ordinator and then Director at regional visual arts network New Art West Midlands (CVAN) and spent six years as Editorial Manager of contemporary art magazine this is tomorrow. Anneka has worked at art galleries including Tate Modern, Ikon, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Shaun Patrick Hand is a writer and musician from Birmingham. He returned to education in his early 20s, ultimately graduating from the University of Wolverhampton with a first in Creative & Professional Writing. He self-published his first book, Pop Art Poems: The Music of The Jam in 2016, eventually selling all 1,000 copies. His first poetry collection, The New Brutalism was published in 2020, and his debut novel, The Sadness of The King George, which draws on his 16 years of pub work, followed in early 2021. His band, FABRIK, have released two albums, and their music has been used on American television and podcasts. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and editor and is writing his second novel.
Twitter: @shaunhandauthor | Instagram: @shaunpatrickhand
Stephenjohn Holgate is a writer of fiction. After reading English at Oxford and completing an MA in Classical Acting at The Central School for Speech and Drama, he worked as an actor for nine years. He spent much of that time working in youth theatre with the Hampstead Theatre and Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre developing, directing and acting in original writing. Born in Jamaica, Stephenjohn grew up in London and Florida but now lives in the West Midlands where he teaches A-level English and runs a creative writing club for students.
Twitter & Instagram: @mistaholgate
Helen Kelly has written plays for casts of one and casts of 60, for theatres including The Orange Tree (Richmond), and the Stephen Joseph (Scarborough). She has a Playwriting MA, and a PhD in dramatic structure. Helen co-produced her play Catchment Christians in Birmingham, and has had many pieces performed with BOLDtext Playwrights collective, at venues including: Birmingham Rep, Digbeth Coach Station, and Birmingham’s ‘Lock-Up’ police station. Helen received Arts Council funding for a novel and is (still) re-drafting, with the support of Tindal St Fiction Group. She is Royal Literary Fellow at Aston – where she helps students with their writing.
Rosie Miles is originally from south Manchester/Cheshire, but Birmingham has been her home for over twenty years. Rosie is a poet, scholar and educator and taught award-winning courses on Victorian Literature for many years at the University of Wolverhampton and then Royal Holloway, University of London. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and her debut pamphlet is CUTS (HappenStance, 2015). She has an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Manchester Metropolitan University and was in the first cohort of Dynamo mentees (Nine Arches/Arts Council, 2017). Rosie has collaborated with both visual artists and composers and her poem ‘You enter’ is etched into King’s Heath Urban Village Square, south Birmingham.
E.E. Rhodes is an archaeologist who lives in Worcestershire. She writes a mix of creative non-fiction and literary fiction – short story, flash, prose poetry. Since beginning writing in 2020 her work has featured in a number of anthologies and journals and has placed in 30 competitions. In 2020 she was a winner in The Urban Tree Festival Flash competition, and in 2021 has won both The Phare’s ‘Write Words’ short story competition and The Intrepid Times ‘Reunions’ travel writing prize. She’s currently working on a flash novella set in Wales.
She tweets @electra_rhodes
Naush Sabah is a writer, editor, and educator from the West Midlands. Last year, she completed an MA in Creative Writing, with Distinction, and she now works as a visiting lecturer at Birmingham City University. She is Editor and Publishing Director at Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, a biannual magazine of new work in poetry and criticism. Her short play, Coins, was staged at The Rep and longlisted for the Pint Sized Plays competition (2019). Heredity/ASTYNOME, a double micro-pamphlet poetry box set, was published by Legitimate Snack last year. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the TLS, Modern Poetry in Translation, Magma, and elsewhere. She is a trustee at Poetry London, and Co-founder and Editor at Large at Pallina Press.
Samiir Saunders (he/they) is a mixed media poet based in Birmingham. Their work consists of experimental digital poetry, page poetry, spoken word performance, and video-poetry. Samiir’s poems and artworks examine the tension between a desire to communicate authentically and the limitations of digital technology (and indeed, of language itself). He explores how the internet’s seemingly unlimited pool of information sits within a wider context of capitalism, post-colonialism, and the various erasures therein, whilst also finding a space for playfulness and the acceptance of ambiguity.
Born in West Bromwich and now living in Oldbury, Baljit Kaur Sidhu graduated from Leeds University with a degree in English Literature and History Art before completing a Creative Writing course at Sandwell College then a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism at what was then the University of Central England. She has been a radio producer at the BBC Asian Network for almost twenty years, working on live programming as well as scripting and editing documentaries covering subjects as far ranging as the influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood movies and exploring Pakistan’s love affair with rock music. Baljit began writing four years ago and was long-listed for the Penguin Write-Now programme in 2020. She is currently working on her first novel.
Cate West trained in Fine Art and graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2019. She was shortlisted for York Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live Competition and long listed for Mslexia’s Novel Competition in 2019. Cate teaches Creative Writing in schools and the community, and is passionate about outsider and precariat narratives. She lives and works in the Midlands. Publications: ‘The Blue Pool’ in ‘The Invisible Collection’, ed Nicholas Royle, Nightjar Press 2020; ‘Imbolc’, Lunate, January 2021
Stephen Whitehouse was fortunate to be given The Day of the Triffids to read at school when twelve which began a lifelong fascination with all things science and fiction. They seriously took to writing a few years ago as unemployment does that to a person and they were runner up in the Lulu Novel Publication Competition 2018. They have had short stories published in Idle Ink, Schlok Magazine and Daily Science Fiction, and have also appeared in Xenobiology edited by Michelle Dutcher and Sergio Palumbo. Currently they are writing about elves with PTSD.
Hailing from Wolverhampton, Danielle Wilbrey is a primary school teacher and screenwriter.
With a lifelong love of comedy cemented by watching the Young Ones as a toddler and a passion for all things twisted and macabre, her writing focuses on outsider characters and explores the darkness in everyday life, finding humour in both the daft and disturbing.
Powered by very loud music and chocolate, she is currently working on a TV pilot and developing her skills in animation.