© Jonathan Turner


About the poet

Leeds-based poet, playwright and activist Khadijah Ibrahiim is of Jamaican parentage, born and raised in Leeds. She is Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors and the Producer of Leeds Youth poetry Slam festival. Her work has been published in Peepal Tree Press and she has attended Calabash International Literature Festival in Jamaica as a delegate for the Art Council England. Khadijah’s recent work on Windrush stories includes Sorrell & Black Cake with the Geraldine Connor Foundation, Dead and Wake for Words in the City, and Moving Here: The Windrush Generation in Leeds, a photographic exhibition at Leeds City Museum. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s ‘most prolific’ poets by BBC Radio, she continues to make stage appearances across Britain, the USA, the Caribbean and Africa.

© Jonathan Turner
© Jonathan Turner
Members of Chapeltown’s community with Khadijah Ibrahiim

The Commission

For Collections in Verse Khadijah is exploring the African Caribbean folklore and music traditions and its place in the UK – pre-Windrush and after. Khadijah will willaddress the social commentary attached to the Griot, who is responsible for maintaining an oral record of community history in the form of music, poetry, and storytelling, with a focus on the aesthetic and poetics of sound system culture. She will also explore the oral and visual history of the deejay (toaster) who conceived a

verbal technique as seen and heard in the work of dub poet Mikey Smith, featured in the Windrush exhibition, and Jean Binta Breeze. Her work will look at funerals as a common feature – where spaces for creative expression are key, to keep the family in good spirits, to help the spirit to pass on, which in turn is part of African and Caribbean retention, as are the songs, folk material and stories which make up the Windrush generation and their children today.

Members of Chapeltown’s community with Khadijah Ibrahiim

“embroidered traditions of alchemy,/ grated bissy ’n ginger an white rum/ to run di pain out from bad-belly,/ bruk disease an fever to strengthen/ these branches for another crossing”

Khadijah Ibrahiim

Khadijah’s research included drop-in sessions at Carnival mas camps and dance classes, and conversations with members of Ruscoe Church, local dominoes and Black history groups. She hosted Citizens of the Word – a live arts debate at Chapeltown Library – inviting local community group Unity Does MAATer to present on four themes responding to Windrush – archives and memory, media and identity, social stereotypes and perceptions, and environmental injustice.

For the final event in her commission, Khadijah is hosting a Sound System Symposium in Chapeltown Library, featuring pioneers of Sound System Culture in Leeds to explore and archive its history and social role in the city.

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