Malorie Blackman:

Malorie Blackman has written over fifty books and is acknowledged as one of today’s most imaginative and convincing writers for young readers. She has been awarded numerous prizes for her work, including the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award. Malorie has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. In 2005 she was honoured with the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her contribution to children’s books, and in 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature. She has been described by The Times as ‘a national treasure’.


Melvin Burgess:

Melvin Burgess was born in Sussex and is a British author of children’s fiction. His first book The Cry of the Wolf was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal. His novel Junk became one of the best-known young adult books in the 90’s. Burgess won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s best children’s book by a British subject. For the 10th anniversary in 2007 it was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. In 2001 Burgess wrote the novelisation of the film Billy Elliot, based on Lee Hall’s screenplay. He now lives in West Yorkshire with his Partner Anita.


Bali Rai:

Bali Rai is the award-winning author of over twenty-five titles. His first book (un)arranged marriage was published in 2001, by Random House. A recommended author on the KS3 English reading lists, his other titles include Dream On, Rani & Sukh (now a GCSE set text), Killing Honour, the Soccer Squad series for junior readers and his latest young adult offering, Fire City. When not writing, Bali visits schools and colleges across the UK, and further afield, talking about his work and inspirations. He also teaches creative writing, and is a former writer-in-residence for both the Reading Agency and Booktrust, as well as being a director of The Society of Authors. Born and raised in the heart of Leicester, his work reflects lives and voices often neglected by the mainstream. He has won numerous awards across the UK, and in 2005 was awarded he prestigious Silver Star by Ibby, for Rani & Sukh. He lives in Leicester with his wife and daughter.


Catherine Pellegrino:

Catherine Pelligrino has worked in the Publishing Industry for over twenty years in various guises, in house at Penguin and Bloomsbury when Barry Cunningham signed debut author J.K Rowling and as a Literary Scout.

Joining Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd in 2007, she discovered her perfect job, agenting.  Setting up her own agency, Catherine Pellegrino and Associates in 2011 has enabled her to focus on the aspects of the job she love’s best, working closely with new writers and watching their careers take off.  As when she worked at RCW, diversity issues are very much at the forefront of her mind and she is delighted to continue my support for the Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize.


Alexandra Antscherl:

Alexandra Antscherl is the executive editor for children’s fiction at Puffin Books, part of Penguin UK.  She’s been an editor of children’s fiction for nearly 20 years – and a passionate reader since she was old enough to hold a book.  She’s worked for three of the major trade publishing houses, HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin, as well as having a period of freelancing for other, smaller publishers as well.  Her favourite genre to read – and to publish – is the family or relationship novel and she’s worked with many authors in this genre including Jacqueline Wilson.  She also enjoys a great thriller as well as literary fiction and historical novels.   She’s a mother of two young children – who, happily, share her love of reading – and in what little spare time she has left she enjoys helping out in their primary school library.


Shamshad Khan:

Shamshad Khan is a Manchester based, Leeds born, poet. Many of her poems have been published in anthologies including Flame, Poetry of Rebellion, The Firepeople, Bittersweet, Healing Strategies for Women at War, Gargoyle, Longman’s GCSE Poems for your Pocket, Velocity and Redbeck Press’ anthology of British South Asian poets and she has published a short story, ‘The Woman and the Chair’. She has performed her work widely and has been broadcast on local and national radio in the UK including the BBC’s Radio 4’s Love Thang and Woman’s Hour. Khan has is also worked as an editor on an anthology of black women’s poetry and advised the Arts Council of England North West on literature. She also presented a Radio 4 programme on the Qaṣīda al-Burda (also known as The Poem of the Cloak).


Sujata Bhatt:

Sujata Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad, and brought up in Pune until 1968, when she emigrated to the United States with her family. Many of Bhatt’s poems have themes of love and violence. She explores issues such as racism and the interaction between Asian, European, and North American culture. She received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award for her first collection I.


Stephanie Chan:

Stephanie Chan, is a poet and sometime law student from Singapore, currently based in London. Born in 1987, she has been writing poetry ever since her first gerbil died when she was 11, and has been performing since 2008. She performs and organizes spoken word nights around London, sometimes other parts of the UK, and  (when she gets to go home) Singapore. She co-hosts Hammer and Tongue Hackney with Sam Berkson in Dalston and runs a night called Forget What You Heard (About Spoken Word) at Ryan’s Bar in Stoke Newington which she hosts with Matt Cummins. She won the Singapore Slam Championships in 2010, and the UK Slam Championships 2012 and represented the UK in the European Championships in Antwerp, 2012 and the Poetry World Cup in Paris, June 2013.


Malika Booker:

Malika Booker is a British writer of Guyanese and Grenadian Parentage. Her poems are widely published in anthologies and journals including: Out of Bounds, Black & Asian Poets (Bloodaxe 2012) Ten New Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) the India International Journal 2005. She has represented British writing internationally, both independently and with the British Council including New Zealand, India, and Azerbaijan.  She has written for the stage and radio. Her one-woman show Unplanned, toured nationwide throughout 2007. Her collection Breadfruit was published by flippedeye in 2008, and recommended by the Poetry Book Society. She was the first Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company and her collection Pepperseed is forthcoming from Peepal Tree Press in 2013.


Desiree Reynolds:

Desiree Reynolds started her writing career in London as a freelance journalist for the Jamaican Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has gone on to write film scripts, poetry and short stories. “Seduce” is her first novel. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. “I consider it a great honour for anyone to want to pick up my work and read it because time is our most precious commodity, so if your going to give me some of it then the least I can do is to mek sure you get something back….. hopefully”.

To see an extract from her book Seduce click here


Adam Lowe:

Adam Lowe is an award-winning writer, journalist and publisher from Leeds, who now lives in Manchester. He was selected as Yorkshire’s poet for the Olympics, as part of the National Lottery’s 12 Poets of 2012 competition. His 2012 collection, Precocious (Dog Horn Publishing, 2012), was a reader nomination for the Guardian First Book Award.


Afshan Lodhi:

Afshan Lodhi is the Deputy Director of Publishing at Dog Horn Publishing. She has been a writer-in-residence and has received commissions from 2 Market 2 Market (Leeds Kirkgate Market), the Zion Centre (for which she and her writing group received a Community History Award) and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester (as part of the Search Party Project). She has also received an award for Community Cohesion from V Inspired, an Outsider’s Award from The Big Issue in the North, and the My Voice Bursary run by the Reading Agency.


Dorothea Smartt:

Dorothea Smartt poet, live artist and literary activist, is a ‘Brit-born Bajan international’. Her two poetry collections are Connecting Medium and Ship Shape, [Peepal Tree Press]. Her work typically bridges the islands of Britain and Barbados, effortlessly shuttling between local and global scenes as it weaves a diasporic web. She is featured in several anthologies and journals – most recently Flicker & Spark International Queer Anthology [Lowbrow Press, 2013] and the UK’s “Poetry Review” [Winter, 2012]. Her recordings are available on Badilisha Poetry Radio, among other online audio platforms. She is Associate Poetry Editor of “Sable Litmag”, and guest co-editor of their forthcoming LGBTQI issue [2014]. Most recently, in 2013, she’s contributed to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs convention [Boston, USA] and Yari Yari Ntoaso – the Organisation of Women Writers of Africa symposium [Accra, Ghana]. She’s an honorary team-member of Cambridge University’s Caribbean/Commonwealth Poetry Project and Co-Director of Inscribe, a national development programme for writers of African & Asian descent.


Thomas Glave:

A two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, Glave’s early short story, The Final Inning, originally published in The Kenyon Review, won an O. Henry Award in 1997 while Glave was still a graduate student at Brown University. With this award, Glave became the second and only gay African American writer, after James Baldwin, to have won an O. Henry Award.The Final Inning appears in Glave’s first fiction collection, Whose Song? and Other Stories, published by City Lights in 2000. Glave’s essay collection Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent won the Lambda Literary Award in 2005.[3] Glave earned a second Lambda Literary Award in 2009 for his groundbreaking anthology, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (Duke University Press, 2008).


Okey Nzelu:

Okey Nzelu is a freelance poet and writer, and he works for Carcanet Press. He has been published in Agenda, PN Review and The Literateur. In 2013 Me and Alan, his radioplay based on the life of Alan Turing, was broadcast on Roundhouse Radio. He is finishing his first novel.


Fred D’Aguiar:

Poet, novelist and playwright Fred D’Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He lived in Guyana until he was 12, returning to England in 1972. His plays include High Life (produced at the Albany Empire in London in 1987) and A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death,performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1991. Fred D’Aguiar’s poetry includes Bill of Rights (1998), a long narrative poem about the Jonestown massacre in Guyana in 1978; and a long narrative poem, Bloodlines, published in 2000. His poetry collection, Continental Shelf (Carcant, 2009), was shortlisted for the 2009 T. S. Eliot Prize. His latest collection is The Rose of Toulouse (Carcanet). His fifth novel, Children of Paradise is forthcoming from Granta in 2014. He teaches at Virginia  Tech.


Tariq Mehmood:

In 1981 Tariq Mehmood along with 11 others was arrested on charges of terrorism in a case that became known as the Bradford 12. All the defendants were acquitted.  He is the co-director of Injustice, an award-winning feature documentary that examines deaths in police custody. His first novel was Hand on the Sun (Penguin, 1983), followed by While There is Light (Comma Press, 2003). He has won the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award 2013 for You’re Not Proper.


Martin De Mello:

Martin writes poetry and short fiction at the crossing point between terrotories. He views literature as a global inheritance and his job as a writer to explore the accidents and confines of place. Being Eurasian and falling on the wrong side of many words the elusiven and resistant nature of narrative is of particular interest to him. For him, the text is a reader in dialogue with the audience, offering reinvention, ambiguity and endless possibilities.


Samuel Shimon:

Samuel Shimon, Iraqi author and journalist, was born in Habbaniya in 1956. In 1998, he collaborated with his wife, Margaret Obank, to create Banipal, a magazine dedicated to introducing contemporary Arabic literature to the English audience. Shimon also founded Kikah, a cultural website which promotes free culture and tolerance. In 2005, he published his first novel, Iraqi in Paris; the book continues to be very successful, with translations into several languages. He currently lives in London, UK


Fereshteh Mozaffari:

Fereshteh Mozaffari was born in Iran four years before the Islamic Revolution  toppled the Shah, replacing him with a regime of clerics. She was 6 years old when the eight year war began with Iraq. These turbulences stimulated her interest in politics. She became  a journalist,  working as a member of a news room at an Iranian TV channel, while at the same time conducting research on International and Middle East studies. She published her first writing at the age of 26 in a defence strategy quarterly magazine. She then published several papers in different magazines. In the last three years and during her exile in the UK, she has been writing for online magazines,  including Iran-free which  supports democracy in Iran. She has also worked as a volunteer with Oxfam , participating in a research group in Manchester which looked at how to integrate refugees  into UK society. She has written her story about how she came to be an exile in a book she hopes will be published.



Sudanese Exile




Evening Entertainment:


Julian Daniel

Julian is a stand up comedian and comic poet and soon to be published author of ‘How to Dump Your Girlfriend’
He has taken his spokenword/comedy to theatres, comedy clubs, libraries, art galleries, youth groups, prisons, schools, shopping centres and across the world wide web.


Shirley May

Shirley May is co-founder and voluntary Creative Director of Young Identity, a young people’s poetry collective. She has also been part of Commonword, a literature development organisation. Shirley won the North West Poetry Slam has performed at prominent venues across the North West and works for Manchester Library Young People and Children’s Services. Shirley is published in several anthologies, including The Suitcase Book of Love Poems


Reece Williams

Reece is a Project Administrator at Young Identity, a Manchester-based creative writing and performance project for young people aged between 13 and 25 years old. Reece is a poet (Young Identity & Inna Voice Collectives) peer mentor, workshop facilitator and aspiring theatre producer. Currently studying Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), Reece has a particular interest in modern and innovative theatre.


JP Cooper

JP Cooper is a Manchester based musician


Pete Kalu

Peter Kalu is well known as a poet, novelist, playwright and script writer. He started writing as a member of the Moss Side Write black writers workshop and has had five novels, two film scripts and three theatre plays produced to date. In 2002 he won the Kodak/Liverpool Film Festival Award for his script, No Trace. In March 2003 he won the BBC/Contact Theatre’s Dangeorus Comedy Script Award for his play, Pants.