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Young Poets Showcase Digital Programme

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Barbican Young Poets is an artist development initiative and community for those who wish to explore what’s possible for their poetry and creative expression.

Throughout the programme, the group generates new writing, experiments with different ways of working, and refines a selection of new work towards a publication, performance, or presentation. Barbican Young Poets is facilitated by internationally renowned poet and performer, Jacob Sam-La Rose, with special sessions from invited guest artists along the way.

Poetry installations

12:00-17:15 - Conservatory

Experimental poetry installations created by members of the group will be available to view in the Conservatory (both levels) for the duration of the event.

Physics and Poetry

12:15-13:30 - Conservatory Terrace

Barbican Young Poet, Alex Chand.

In this writing workshop, participants will consider how to work with physics in their poetry (all levels welcome). Whether you're interested in engaging with scientific concepts in your poems, or a scientist looking for a way into poetry, this workshop is for you. We'll look at poems by both dead and contemporary poets writing about the cosmos and engage with some of the science behind black holes. Attendees will participate in a generative writing exercise. Spaces on a first come, first served basis.


12:15-13:30 - Conservatory Well

Barbican Young Poet, Marianne Habeshaw, and guest artist, Sarabi Hawke.

Exploring poetic form and structure inspired by crochet patterns, led by Marianne Habeshaw, with guest crochet artist, Sarabi Hawke. This is a chance to experiment between visual and written forms to develop your own creative skills. We’ll be using a multi-disciplinary approach to look at how Sarabi’s crochet art piece, Enjoy the Power of Unity, can ignite new collaborative ways to knot words together. Spaces on a first come, first served basis.

Young Poets Performance


With live and recorded poetry performances from the 2023 Young Poets cohort, featuring work created during the programme.

2023 Cohort

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Hoor Alnuaimi

Hoor is a graduate student at the University of Oxford and an emerging writer and translator, currently working on completing a bilingual novella in Arabic and English that explores the different objects in Emirati women’s quotidian lives. She is interested in the relationship between language, violence, and womanhood, and hopes to continue navigating these themes in her work at the Barbican. Hoor is based in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

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Alex Chand

From California, Kentucky, and Texas, Alex Chand is currently studying English Literature at the University of Leeds on a Fulbright. She is also a Barbican Young Poet. Most recently Alex competed at UniSlam on the University of Leeds team in 2023, finishing second, and was named a finalist for the William S. Robe Playwriting Residency. In 2022, Chand graduated with a BA from Lawrence University in physics and English, where she was awarded the Diderrich Prize in Creative Writing and earned summa cum laude honours for her thesis, Charting Autistic Voices. You can find Alex on the web at

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Rachel Cleverly

Rachel Cleverly is a poet and producer. She is a Barbican Young Poet, an Old Vic Theatre Maker and an alumnus of Apples and Snake's 'The Writing Room' and BBC Words First. She has an MA in Creative Writing Poetry from the University of East Anglia, and has been shortlisted for the UEA New Forms Award, commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize, and published by flipped eye publishing, The North, SPAM, ACHE Magazine and The Feminist Library among others. Rachel works as an Education Officer at The Poetry Society, where she manages the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award.
Twitter/Instagram: @rachel_cleverly

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Kiara Gilbert

Kiara Gilbert is a graduate student at the intersection of ethics, political theory, and African American Studies. Her research is rooted in the lived experiences and philosophies of Black American communities. She graduated with a BA in African American Studies from Princeton University and an MPhil in Criticism and Culture from the University of Cambridge. She recently co-published a chapter on Black revolutionary Frederick Douglass in Rethinking Political Theory, published by Oxford University Press.

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Marianne Habeshaw

I am a queer, East London-based poet from Peterborough, a Barbican Young Poet and an artist in residence at St. Margaret’s House. I’m a teaching assistant and I also curate, produce and perform at an annual collaborative poetry event at St. Margaret’s house. My goal is to provide other emerging artists with a platform to workshop and experiment with new work while building community. I love poems that locate me emotionally, especially when I don’t know what’s going on.

I had two poems ‘The Theories of Porky Pig’ and ‘Your neighbour finds breakdown and recovery’ longlisted for the Outspoken Prize for page poetry in 2023. My poem ‘An Imperfect Love Story’ was longlisted for the Outspoken Prize for page poetry in 2022. I was awarded a Free Reads Scheme in 2021 for my collection ‘Blather Gaps.’ Between 2019 to 2021, published by the LADA website, Unseen Words and Visuals and Enthusiastic Press. I wrote a play with Eastern Angles in 2019 called ‘Snowflakes in the Slow cooker’ (about culture wars and political opposition in Britain) and was commissioned by Paines Plough in 2020.

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Charlotte Higgins

Charlotte Higgins is a poet from Belfast, now based in London. She has been writing and performing for over 10 years - and has performed poetry at Glastonbury, Latitude, the Proms, Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Nuyorican Poetry Café, and on Radio 3. She is a previous winner of SLAMbassadors and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year award.

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Rosanna Hildyard

Rosanna Hildyard is an editor and writer from North Yorkshire. She is a Barbican Young Poet and an alumnus of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her poetry and fiction has recently been published in Salt’s Best British Short Stories, Vittles, PERVERSE, Banshee and Modern Poetry in Translation, been shortlisted for the Benedict Kiely Award and come second in the Brick Lane Short Story Prize. Her short story pamphlet, Slaughter, was longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize in 2021 and is available from Broken Sleep Books.

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Oli Isaac

Oli Isaac is a London-based playwright and poet, who likes to write tender poems about their tender thoughts. Having grown up with a stutter, they are interested in how language can fail us and how experiments in poetry and multimedia can attempt to cross that gap. Oli is a recipient of Audible Theatre’s Emerging Playwrights Fund and has previously been selected as a lead artist for the Barbican x CRIPtic showcase and the BBC’s Word’s First festival. They are an alumni of Soho Theatre Writers' Lab, Roundhouse Poetry Collective and the Apples & Snakes’ Writing Room, as well as a current member of Barbican Young Poets.

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Asmaa Jama

Asmaa Jama is a Somali interdisciplinary artist and writer based in Bristol. Jama has been commended by the Brunel African Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the Wasafiri Writing Prize, James Berry Prize, New Poets Prize and Outspoken Page Poetry Prize and longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. Jama is a Cave Canem Fellow. Asmaa has been published in anthologies and in print, and has been translated into Somali, Swahili, French, German and Portuguese. 

As a film director, Asmaa was commissioned by BBC Arts to make the interactive film Before We Disappear (2021), and by Bristol Old Vic to make The Season of Burning Things (2021), which was screened at the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture (2021), as part of 100 Ways to say We and at Art Basel, Hong Kong. Asmaa’s upcoming solo exhibition, with collaborator Gouled Ahmed, for a new moving image work, Except this time nothing comes back from the ashes will open at Spike Island, Bristol in June.

In theatre, Asmaa has collaborated with choreographers Radouan Mrziga (Akal) and Dorothee Munyaneza (Mailles). And has performed and toured in Mailles, over the past two years, in venues such as the Pompidou Centre, Paris.

Asmaa has held residencies at Callie's, Berlin and with Onassis Stegi, (Alexandria, Marseille and Athens). And is a fellow with Film London, and a current resident artist at Somerset House Studios.

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Tatenda Naomi Matsvai

Tatenda Naomi Matsvai (aka 2tender) is a facilitator and devised performance maker, working with spoken word poetry in theatrical and non-theatrical performance contexts. Tatenda's work is mainly bio mythical, infusing their lived experience with myth, to challenge colonial cosmologies. Their performances are joyful, participatory, and multidimensional. They are currently developing their co-written show Hot Orange with Halfmoon Theatre.

Tatenda’s work has won the Vault Origins award, been Offie nominated, and performed as part of Theatre Peckham, The Roundhouse Camden, The Cockpit for Voila Europe! festival and Between.Pomiędzy literary Festival (Poland).

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Sarah McCreadie

I’m Sarah McCreadie - a poet, performer and lesbian heart-throb from Cardiff. I’ve performed my poetry from Newport to New York. My poetry was published in 2022 by flipped eye publishing in the anthology Articulations for Keeping the Light In and by Y Lolfa in Wal Goch - Ar Ben y Byd. I was named as one of Craig Charles’ Poets of 2022’. I’m a Barbican Young Poet, a BBC 1Xtra ‘Words First’ poet and former resident artist at the Roundhouse theatre. My collaborations range from Vanity Fair to Match of the Day. I am online on Twitter at @Girl_Like_Sarah and you can hear my poems on Youtube or come watch me at a show!

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Poppy Medenis

Poppy Medenis is a London-based designer who engages with the question of what a poem can be considered as: conversation, song, textiles or the act of making itself. She explores themes of faith, hope and everyday beauty through song, poetry, printmaking and photography. She is most inspired by the poets that haven’t been named as so, and believes there is a book in every person. Through running creative workshops in hospitals, community centres and schools she encourages people to celebrate their unique voices.

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Francis-Xavier Mukiibi

Francis-Xavier Mukiibi (@fxmpoetry) is a poet and spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage from North London.

He is an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets programme, the Roundhouse Poetry Collective and the Obsidian Foundation retreat.

He has performed his poetry on BBC Radio and iPlayer and has also featured in various creative arts festivals throughout London and the Midlands, including Festival2Funky in Leicester, the Camden Inspire Festival, and the Roundhouse Last Word Festival.

His poetry appears in Ink Sweat & Tears, Zindabad Zine and Under the Radar by Nine Arches Press.

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Robin Park

Robin Park is a Korean-American poet based in the UK. Her poems often contain glimpses of her family and attempts to make sense of her own nomadic identity. She is currently exploring the concept of randomness, both in her creative process and in her poems. She was an inaugural member of the Southbank Centre’s New Poets Collective.Robin Park is a Korean-American poet based in the UK. Her poems often contain glimpses of her family and attempts to make sense of her own nomadic identity. She is currently exploring the concept of randomness, both in her creative process and in her poems. She was an inaugural member of the Southbank Centre’s New Poets Collective.

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Niharika Poré

Niharika Poré is a multidisciplinary writer, artist, and curator working across several cultural institutions and community groups through London. They build sensory moments for the reader, reflecting on personal experiences of disability, diaspora, and queerness. Working with metaphors of ecology and speculative fiction, they worldbuild to capture dissociated memories through distanced perspectives. They also explore installation and sculptural form with printed text, making reading spaces within which to become lost.

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Riwa Saab

Riwa Saab is a London-based artist who works with space, sound, and words. By braiding together the crafts of poetry, theatre, and music, she interrogates how art puts people and our relationships at the centre of the political narratives we inhabit, while particularly exploring the diasporic experience of building cultural bridges, unpacking generational and familial baggage, and creating space for pockets of joy.

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Zahrah Sheikh

Zahrah Sheikh, a British Pakistani poet from Ilford. Her writing mainly explores prayer, the self, the weight of an action and silence.

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Michael Sookhan

Michael is a Barbican Young Poet and theatre maker.

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Aea Varfis-van Warmelo

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a Greek-British writer based in London. Her work has appeared in The White Review, Tolka, The National Poetry Library, A Glimpse of, Sand, Spam and others. She was shortlisted for The White Review's Poet's Prize, was an inaugural member of the Southbank Centre's New Poets Collective and has an MA in Writing from the Royal College of Art.

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Jinhao Xie

Jinhao Xie is a Barbican Young Poet and a member of Southbank Centre New Poets Collective. Their work is in POETRY, Poetry Review, Harana, Bath Magg, Gutter Magazine and and anthologies, including Articulations for Keeping the Light In, Slam! You're Gonna Wanna Hear This edited by Nikita Gill, Instagram Poems for Every Day by National Poetry Library, Fourteen Poems and Re.Creation. They are the inaugural champion of Asia House Poetry slam 2018. They are interested in nature, the mundane, the interpersonal and selfhood.

Content Warnings & Further Support

Some of the work created explores themes and issues pertinent to the group, which may be of a mature/distressing nature and may include strong language. Specific topics include: abortion, alcoholism, blood, chronic pain, domestic violence, gore, grief, hospitalisation, illness, motherhood, OCD, self-harm, sex/sexuality, sexual assault, trans-Atlantic slavery in the USA, suicide, the 9/11 attacks.

Here is a list of organisations that offer support in relation to the above:

Abortion counselling support: or call 0333 004 6666
Alcoholism: or call 0300 123 1110
Anti-radicalisation support:
Chronic pain:
Domestic violence: or call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
Grief: or call 0808 808 1677
LGBTQIA+ support:
Mental health (general):
Mental health (young people)
OCD: or call 01332 588 112
Sexual assault: or call 0808 500 2222
Suicide prevention: or call 116 123

Additional credits

  • Digital programme photo credit: Betty Laura Zapata 2022.
  • 2023 cohort photos by Aiden Harmitt-Williams, 2022.
  • The film featured in Marianne Habeshaw’s performance of The Theories of Porky Pig was filmed and edited by Shauna McCallion, animated by Ben Arrowsuch, and produced by Marianne Habeshaw and Anisa Nizam.