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Exiled Lit Cafe

Monday 2 July 2018, 7:30 pm10:00 pm

Hostile Environment

in words and music

Inua Ellams – Amir Darwish – Zita Holbourne – Shamim Azad with translator Selim Jana

Guitarist/Singer Sheik Rana


Inua Ellams

Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist and designer. He is an ambassador for the Ministry of Stories and has published four books of poetry: ‘Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’, ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’ ‘The Wire-Headed Heathen’ and ‘#Afterhours’. His first play ‘The 14th Tale’ was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his fourth ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’ sold out its run at England’s National Theatre. He is currently touring ‘An Evening With An Immigrant’ and working on ‘The Half God of Rainfall’ – a new play in verse. In graphic art and design, online and in print, he tries to mix the old with the new, juxtaposing texture and pigment with flat shades of colour and vector images. He lives and works from London, where he founded the Midnight Run, a nocturnal urban excursion.


Amir Darwish 

is a British Syrian poet and writer of Kurdish origin who lives in London. Born in Aleppo, he came to Britain as an asylum seeker in 2003. He will read from his forthcoming collection Dear Refugee to be published in 2019 (Smokestack). His previous work is Don’t Forget the Couscous(Smokestack 2015) and From Aleppo Without Love (2017). He has published his work in the UK, USA, Pakistan, India, Finland, Turkey, Canada, Singapore and Mexico. Amir has an MA in International Relations of the Middle East from Durham University, UK and a BA in history from Teesside University, UK. Currently, he is doing an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Zita Holbourne

is a spoken word and performance poet, visual artist, curator and activist who is an award winning trade union, community and human rights campaigner and activist. She has performed at a diverse range of events, including the National Diversity Awards, Glastonbury, The Houses of Parliament, TUC and UK Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela.  She has also performed regularly on radio and television and been published in a range of anthologies. She is the author of Striving for Equality, Freedom and Justice (Hansib Publications). Zita studied art and graphic design and has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and make-up artist and exhibits at a range of cultural, community and political events. She is one of thirteen British women campaigners featured in the new book Here We Stand; Women Changing the World which won the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2015.

Shamim Azad

is a bilingual author and one of the best known Bengali poets and storytellers in the UK. She has published more than 30 books including novels, short stories and collections of poetry in English and Bengali.Her works have been published, among others, in the New Yorker, The Red Beck Anthology of British South Asian Poetry, Modern Poetry in Translation, Mother Tongues, Mid-American Review, Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review USA, Rising East and Emlit Project. Shamim Azad is a resident poet and storyteller with Apples & Snakes, a member of the Poetry Society, Executive Council member of Exiled Writers Ink, founder and chair of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (World Literature Centre)London and a trustee of Rich Mix Centre. Ancestral Embryo by Selim Jahan is an English version of Shamim Azad’s autobiographical novel “Bongshobeej’.

Selim Jahan is an author and economist whose publications include Freedom as Development, Deprivations and Development, Overcoming Human Poverty, The Political Economy of Bangladesh. Sharshetee Shadesher Mukh, Phire Phire Dekha, and Bela-Obelar Kotha.He regularly writes columns in various newspapers in Bangladesh and abroad and translates from Bangla to English and vice versa. He often appears in various global TV channels talking on various developmental issues. He was a Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and was a Visiting Fellow at University of Cambridge and University of Maryland. Selim Jahan currently serves as the Director of the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York and the Lead Author of the Human Development Reports.


Sheik Rana

is a writer, songwriter and poet. His first lyrics were set to music by Bappa Mazumder, famous Bangladeshi singer and composer. He has worked with many prominent Bangladeshi artists including Azam Khan, Partha Barua, Kona and Nancy. He wrote the Bengali version of the official theme song for ICC World Cup 2011 composed by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy. His first book of lyrics was ‘Az tomar mon kharap meye’ (2011). He recently published a travelogue and a journal of day-to-day urban life and his band ‘Nostalgic’ launched the self-titled debut album (2014). Sheik Rana lives in London and is working on a biography and a fiction.


Open Mic and participation


Host: Shamim Azad: Writer


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