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Black and Asian poets


Calling all Black and Asian poets - your chance to make your views heard!

Arts Council England has just launched the first ever survey into publishing opportunities for black and Asian poets in the UK. The aim is to find out why, in a culture where black and Asian authors are topping bestseller lists, poets of the same background are failing to make an impact.

The 2004 ‘Next Generation Poets’ list of the UK’s twenty most vibrant new poets featured only one black poet, Patience Agbabi. As a result, the Arts Council commissioned Spread the Word, an organisation which supports new writing, to find out why so few new culturally diverse poets are appearing in print.

Simon Armitage, one of 1994’s New Generation Poets and a member of the panel which decided 2004’s Next Generation Poets, asks the key question:

‘At the beginning of the 21st century, how can this be the case? That question needs to be put to the editors of poetry lists, because I can’t believe that such writers aren’t submitting manuscripts to established poetry publishers. Editors need to recalibrate.’

Spread the Word is asking black and Asian UK poets, both published and unpublished, to complete the survey online at But you’ve only got till 30 June, so make sure you make your voice heard now.

Bernadine Evaristo, poet, novelist and a judge for the 2004 Next Generation Poets says:

‘I have long been deeply disturbed by the fact that most poetry presses in the UK are simply not publishing poets of colour. Hopefully this research will provide explanations and suggest possible solutions.’


While there are prominent poets from culturally diverse backgrounds in print today, most were originally published in the 1980s or 1990s. Emma Hewitt, Director at Spread the Word says:

"Though black and Asian poets are well represented on the performance circuit, there is a strong perception that they are seriously under-represented on the printed page. This project seeks to get to the truth behind that perception and to find out why (if it is true) and what can be done to ensure that the work of black and Asian poets reaches a wider audience through the printed page."

The findings of the survey will be released in January 2006.

Go to to complete the survey now!