© Jonathan Turner


About the poet

Malika Booker is a British poet and multidisciplinary artist of Guyanese and Grenadian Parentage. Her poetry collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize for first full collection (2014). She appears with WarsanShire in The Penguin Modern Poet Series (2017), and was inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company. She was the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Leeds, where she is now a LHRI Fellow and Creative Writing Teaching Fellow. She is the founder of ‘Malika’s Kitchen’, a writers’ collective supporting emerging talent in London and Chicago.

© Jonathan Turner
© Jonathan Turner
Members of local knitting groups at Compton Road Library with Malika Booker

The Commission

For Collections in Verse Malika is researching the impact of Windrush women on the textiles industry in Yorkshire. She was inspired by the exhibition’s highlighting of British-Trinidadian fabric designer Althea McNish, and Leeds’ history as a hub of the textile industry, including Burton’s factory – which is just around the corner from Compton Road Library.

As part of her residency at Compton Road Library Malika has been building relationships with the library’s Sewing and Knitting groups to research this subject with the community, and build a textiles ‘vocabulary’ for the poem. She has hosted ‘Sewing and Stories’ workshops at the library, collaborating with local textiles artist Carol Sorhaindo and members of the Harehills, Caribbean and textiles community to come together to create a community quilt whilst sharing their stories of Windrush and textiles in Yorkshire.

Members of local knitting groups at Compton Road Library with Malika Booker

“some days she wanted to tell them/ it’s only skin, we bleed the same underneath,/ but she held it in.”

Malika Booker

For the final event in her commission, Malika will be hosting a final Sewing and Stories takeover at Compton Road Library to share her poetry commission and complete the community quilt, which will be installed at the library at the end of the project.

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