Here at the K-SAA, we love hearing all about the creative as well as the critical! We had the absolute pleasure of speaking to poet, Laila Sumpton, about her current and upcoming projects, as well as enjoying an exclusive look at one of Laila’s poems based on the collections of Keats House.
Laila’s poetry uses imagery and lyricism to tell stories about identity and human rights. She studied English literature at the University of St Andrews and Human Rights at the University of London. She co-edited In Protest- 150 poems for human rights, a unique anthology of global poetry collated by the Keats House Poets and the University of London’s Human Rights Consortium. Laila is a Keats House Poet and former Keats House Poet in Residence, whose work for this residency focused on the evidence of colonialism within the House’s collections.
More information about Poetry Versus Colonialism:
UK Poetry Versus Colonialism is a project to build connections and awareness of the histories and legacies of Empire and the slave trade. Working with artists, historians and museum curators the project uses poetry as the means of articulating and processing the affective, troubling and surprising histories and realisations about the everyday legacies of colonialism. Enabling the voices of all participants to register and articulate their personal response creates agency and ownership which is essential to progress with integrating deep understandings of British history into society and identity and helping us to establish new worlds and futures together.
From Spring 2021 workshops will be taken into UK Schools as part of an Arts Council England funded roll-out. Poets will collaborate with academics, teachers, artists and museum staff to investigate the colonial history of sugar, gold, cotton and tobacco. A set of teaching resources for exploring Empire, history and identity through poetry and creative writing will be developed, tested and published. The project includes poetry commissions from professional poets and platforms for the performance and publication of poems by poets and young people. Two day-long workshops will be held with trainee teachers and with arts and heritage organisations around the communication and handling of colonial material and ideas, and ways in to creative engagement and ethical awareness building. The project will reach diverse audiences of parents, community groups, artists, trainee teachers, arts and heritage staff through school events and CPD workshops, a social media campaign, an online anthology and a project website.
Thank you to Laila for a wonderful interview and a moving poetry reading!
For more information about Poetry Vs Colonialism, click this link for the website and search for the hashtag #PoetryVsColonialism on Twitter.
To read more about Laila’s work with Poetry Vs Colonialism and Keats House, see our blog post here.
To see more about Laila’s play ‘I Am Leah’, and book tickets for Sunday 13 June 2021, see here.
If you are a creative and would like to be interviewed by the K-SAA Communications Team, please do get in touch!
Image courtesy of Keats House.