New Offices

Commonword has moved offices. The new office is now:
No. 3 Planetree House
21-31 Oldham Street
M1 1JG

There is a buzzer for entry.
The office number is 3, the workshop space number is 6.

We are having an open day on Thursday 1st of October. During the day (10.30am til 5pm) we are open for drop-in sessions and from 6pm there will be a small shindig.

Superheroes of Slam 2015

Commonword presents the Superheroes of Slam 2015



3MT, 35-39 Oldham Street, Manchester,  M1 1JG.

7.00pm, £5/£4.

The grand final champion will receive £250 and an Arvon week of their choice in 2016 (subject to availability).


The Finalists




Paris Kaur

Paris is a poet from Leeds. She belongs to the poetry group Leeds Young Authors and has competed at the international team poetry slam ‘Brave New Voices’ and is a regular performer. Paris is currently studying her A Levels and is an aspiring theatre director. In her spare time, she likes to write, cook and can often be found napping.





Rebecca Audra Smith

Rebecca Audra Smith is a lyrical, queer feminist poet living in Manchester. She is a founding member of Stirred Poetry Collective with an MA in creative writing from MMU. She has a piece about bikini waxing in the Bloodaxe Anthology, ‘Raving Beauties’, which pretty much sums up her work. You can see her perform at





Alex Webb

Alex Webb is a poet from Cambridge, who now lives in Manchester. He has been published in Bunbury e-zine and Miracle zine. Alex is still adjusting to the real world after graduating Uni last year. He works/writes for M20Collective and Sleepy House Press and is spending his year trying to figure out what he wants to do creatively. You can find his stuff at



HEAT 4 – LEICESTER HEAT In association with Dare to Diva


Jenny Hibberd aka Hibword

Jenny Hibberd a.k.a Hibword started performing on Leicester’s spoken word circuit two years ago. She has read at various events around the city and this is her first poetry slam. Jenny is involved with an array of creative collaborations. She runs an interactive variety show called House of Verse, which is a platform for a plethora of practitioners from spoken word poets to comedians, live musicians to DJs, beatboxers to dancers. A lucid lyricist obsessed with wangling words absurd, listen out for Hibword.


HEAT 5 –  SHEFFIELD HEAT In association with Liquorice Fish


Sarah Thomasin

Sarah Thomasin is a sex educator, equality and diversity trainer and performance poet from Sheffield. These roles have occasionally been known to combine. Sarah is a former winner of the Wordlife slam and the Poetstars slam in Sheffield, hosts the Sheffield heat of the Anti Slam, and will be competing as a finalist in the Hammer and Tongue slam early next year. She finds performing poetry terrifying but exhilarating. Like bungee jumping for nerds.
You can find out more at or follow her at @wordgeeksarah on Twitter.


HEAT 6 –  MANCHESTER HEAT In association with Dare to Diva


Jon Compliant

Jon Compliant is spoken word artist/performance poet from Wrexham, North Wales. Part of the Voicebox collective, Jon has been getting away with using poetry as an excuse for heavy midweek drinking for a while now.


HEAT 7 – LIVERPOOL HEAT In association with Writing on the Wall

Raven Maguire (credit Wesley Storey)

(photo by Wesley Storey)

Raven is a 21 year old spoken word artist who grew up traveling the world and moved to Liverpool in 2011. With a background in theatre she joined 20 Stories High Young Actors Company where she performed in various shows. Their most recent production ANIMALS saw Raven not only take to the stage but also co-create scenes alongside writer and director Keith Saha, her spoken word piece ‘My Brother Ryan’ got featured in the show. She is also the recipient of the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme where she assistant directed the play PROMISES alongside Julia Samuels. She is currently developing herself as a recording artist and singer and has created an experimental music video ‘Free At Last’, which you can find on Youtube.
She is a wordsmith who has a passion for rhymes, recently being described as “the power pack of eloquence herself” by Jennifer John, Creative Director of Sense of Sound. All of her work has a common element of creative writing that strives for collective evolution; her content always pursues higher consciousness and expansion of the mind. Raven loves challenging belief systems and instigates positive empowerment of the individual. She was recognised by Nick Bagnall and taken on as an ‘Ignition’ Artist with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatre. Raven is excited to be the Liverpool finalist of Superheroes of Slam and looks forward to competing in Manchester!


HEAT 8 –  HUDDERSFIELD HEAT In association with Write Out Loud

Rose Condo (photo by Dominic Simpson)

(photo by Dominic Simpson)

Rose Condo is a writer, performer and multi-slam winning poet who hails from the Canadian prairies. In 2014 she toured her solo spoken word show, The Geography of Me to her home city of Winnipeg, the London Free Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe. She won Manchester’s 2014 Word War One Slam, Newcastle’s 2015 SLAMalgamate and the 2015 Say Owt Slam in Edinburgh. She regularly performs at spoken word events around the UK and will soon begin leading poetry workshops for students and educators. @prairiepetal


HEAT 9 – WIGAN HEAT In association with Write Out Loud


Trev Meaney

Trev Meaney is a performance ‘poet’ from Lancaster. Mostly tired and haggered but still full of high energy beans, fast paced delivery and very much performance based. Poems include: chicken, DIY disasters, bionic hoovers and other hard hitting issues. Hugely proud to be commissioned to write and perform for ‘Do You Own The Dancefloor’ premiere at RNCM in front of 600 people and in the same month my one man show ‘Meaney’s Mouthburst’ had just 2 audience members, and they were friends! We decided to go to Burger King instead, it was quite nice. Not quite KFC or Nando’s but…er…yeah. I’m not very good at biogs because I tend to waffle. Thank goodness I haven’t this time!




launch of Spoke: New Queer Voices

Young Enigma’s launch of Spoke: New Queer Voices was done in style. At the Manchester Central Library on the 26th of February, the writers from our LGBT+ group performed their work from the anthology

Culminating in Young Enigma’s exciting spoken word/cabaret performance ‘A Royal Wedding’ (featuring Manchester queens Anna Phylactic and Cheddar Gawjus and originally commissioned by Manchester Pride), this cultural event was an evening where glamour and literature, word and performance collided.

Writers performing on the night:
Adam Lowe
Bryony Bates
Jane Bradley
Blythe Cooper
Tara Ali Din
Jamal Gerald
Benjamin William Crisafulli
Jude Orlando Enjolras
Rei Haberberg
Keith Jarrett
Rebecca Swarray
SPOKE: New Queer Voices is an anthology of writing from young and emerging LGBT writers, published by Manchester-based press Dog Horn Publishing, and edited by LGBT History Month Poet Laureate Adam Lowe. Hosted by the Archives+ Young Writer in Residence Bryony Bates, in association with Young Enigma, this event by Archives+ will showcase the very best new LGBT writers from Manchester, with a few old(er) friends in a purely supporting role.

You can buy from the book here:



Bazgasht (Homecoming) eBook Launch


Shahireh Sharif

Bazgasht, meaning return or homecoming, is a journey of self discovery through the eyes of two childhood friends. Revisiting their homeland, the mystical world and richness of Persian culture revitalises their spirits. Influenced by the writings of the Persian philosopher Attar, each finds new ways of coping with the difficulties of life as they get to know themselves and understand others.

The launch included an excerpt in Farsi with a translation in English, along with a screening of the short film Collection by Iranian filmmaker Peyman Mandegar.

See the film here:

To see pictures from the event click here


Below is an extract of her book translated into English:


Bazgasht (Homecoming)

Chapter 1: The Valley of Quest


“Come in. Please come in.” The old man said.


The fact we had arrived a good few hours earlier than expected didn’t seem to bother him. He opened the door wider and with a smile that echoed in his eyes beckoned us in. I followed Roxana into the narrow hallway. The moment that he closed the door behind us, the hallway’s only source of light became a semicircle stained glass above a wooden door frame far ahead of us. We walked to a door on our right, halfway along the corridor. It challenged the old man’s muscle power. As he pressed his shoulder to it, I gazed at the kaleidoscopic patterns that light passing through the stained glass painted on the wall.


The old man coughed hoarsely. His smooth pressing had become more of a battering action now. He had a sunburnt, stubbly face, and dark brown eyes that resembled two pieces of amber. His white hair swept upwards and away from his forehead and flailed with each of his assaults on the stubborn door. Finally the struggle ended.   We stepped in. The smell hit me. Stale tobacco. The old man kicked a corner of carpet that had been wedging the door.


He stopped by the door and ushered us in with his now familiar smile. Big, south facing wooden-frame windows separated the room from a garden. Sheer white lace curtains softened the sunlight flooding the floor. A large rug with flower patterns and a central rounded decoration was underfoot. The rug was longer than the length of the room and folded in at both ends, hence acted as the obstacle against the door. On one side of the room assorted furniture was crammed in, its faded, gold embroidery hinting at past glory.


The old man gestured to the sofa. “Please, be my guests.” Without hesitation we sat down, he flicked on the tall pedestal fan in the corner and, with a hand rubbing his shoulder, a legacy of his battle with the door, he span round and out of the room.


The smooth whirl of fan blades cut through the tobacco smell. I looked around. The wall-mount ledge was covered with an oval doily decorated with two red butterflies, a few old books and a crystal vase with artificial flowers. I turned towards Roxana who seemed relaxed on the sofa, she winked at me. Maybe as an attempt to avoid long eye contacts I looked up. Each of the two plaster ceiling roses had a naked bulb hanging from it.


It was as if the room and its furniture were telling stories of life: the butterflies that despite their permanently opened wings could not even reach the plastic flowers; the eternal flowers with their faded colour and the bulbs hanged perhaps as a punishment for operating against the darkness of despair. The intertwined knots of the carpet that formed its intricate design covertly exhibited my intermingled feelings and mixed emotions.


Roxanna leaned forward and squeezed my arm, I turned. Her eyes flicked to the door. We could hear footsteps approaching, but not the stumbling ones of the old man.


Winner of Diversity Writing for Children Prize

Commonword is pleased to announce that the winner of the Children’s Diversity Writing Prize 2014 is Dale Hannah’s The Multiple Lives of Haroon Patel
Dale describes his novel as ‘A Christmas Carol meets The Fault In Our Stars’ and is a story about a boy with a terminal illness. Dale uses humour as a counterpoint to the emotional subject matter.
Dale Hannah lives in the North West of England. He is the Head of a Pupil Referral Unit where he works with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The Shortlist:

Wild Isle by Devon Black
Pufferfish by Jenni Foley
The Multiple Lives of Haroon Patel by Dale Hannah
Hope Grayling, The Blind Detective by Honey Stavonhagen
Soul Child by Joanne Wesley-Williams
The Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize welcomes submissions from unpublished children’s authors whose writing embraces ethnic diversity either through their own ethnicity and culture and/or in their writing. Dale was announced as the winner in a prize-giving ceremony held at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester on 5th of February.
The Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize is a national competition run in association with the award-winning publisher Penguin and the leading literary agency Catherine Pellegrino & Associates. It is also supported by regular Commonword writing workshops and an annual masterclass.

Alexandra Antscherl, Executive Editor at Puffin, said: ‘It’s been an honour and a pleasure to judge this year’s Commonword Diversity Writing for Children prize. The variety of stories told by the talented shortlisted authors is a testament to the diverse backgrounds of people writing in Britain today, which this prize seeks to encourage.

Catherine Pellegrino, literary agent, said: ‘In its third year, The Children’s Diversity Prize has again produced a strong short list, five very different novels, linked through their exploration of cultural and ethnic diversity.’

Irfan Master, Leading Children’s author, said: ‘it has been fantastic being a judge for this marvellous and important prize. This year’s winning entry The Multiple Lives of Haroon Patel was funny and original and stood out for me.’

Commonword’s Artistic Director, Pete Kalu, said: ‘Notions of Englishness are seeded by writers, including by children’s writers. We are a diverse nation and yet there is a disturbing absence of diversity in what is currently published in the UK. This Prize addresses that and I am pleased with the talent it is discovering and nurturing.’

The winner, Dale Hannah, said: ‘I’m so proud to be the 2014 winner of the Commonword Diversity Prize. It has always been a passion of mine to write diverse characters, and winning such a prestigious award will hopefully ensure my novel, The Multiple Lives of Haroon Patel, can reach a wider audience through publication.’
For further information please contact:

Pete Kalu: Phone: 0161 832 3777
Hannah McMillan: Phone 0207 010 3386