‘Collections in Verse’ Showcase to Launch at Leeds Central Library in March

Collections in Verse is a unique nationwide collaboration between The British Library, The Living Knowledge Network (of 22 major libraries in the UK) and Poet in the City, funded by Arts Council England.

Following on from the British Library’s successful exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land, the showcase will celebrate the Caribbean community’s impact on the cultural landscape of Leeds and will feature live music, poetry, performance and talks, which will include real-life stories.

The project is set to take place over the next two years, during which audiences across England will be able to engage with local stories, histories and cultures through collections and exhibitions.

The first ever Collections in Verse showcase will take place at Leeds Central Library, a free takeover event called Colonizin in Reverse”: Celebrating Caribbean Culture on the evening of Wednesday 27 March, including:

a set by Leeds DJ Fluid Irie

an open mic session with rapper and singer Testament

Dub Poetry with Roger Robinson

a celebration of Sound System Culture with Khadijah Ibrahiim

live performance from singer-songwriter, composer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson and author and poet Anthony Josephas well as dub poet Roger Robinson and vanguard of dub who will bring a sound system to the heart of the library, Iration Steppas.

Three eminent Leeds poets of Caribbean descent have been commissioned by Poet in The City – Malika Booker, Vahni Capildeo and Khadijah Ibrahiim – to explore the legacy of Windrush on Leeds and on their work:

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library says, “Collections in Verse is a truly exciting, and wholly original, collaboration. Public libraries are natural homes for live poetry and performance, and so we are excited to work with Poet in the City and our five public library partners to reimagine British Library exhibitions for new audiences across the country.”

Alison Millar, Reader and Culture Development Manager for Leeds Libraries says: “We have been so pleased to be the first library service to work on this project with Poet in the City and the British Library. ‘Colonizin in Reverse’ promises to be such an exciting event and will be a fantastic way of celebrating the work that has happened in our libraries with the communities they serve and the commissioned poets.”


“Colonizin in Reverse”: Celebrating Caribbean Culture – at Leeds Central Library, Calverley Street, LS1 3AB on Wednesday March 27th from 6.00 to 9.30pm

NOTE:  Tickets are free but must be booked in advance

To find out more and book a ticket visit https://colonizininreverse.eventbrite.co.uk


  • Malika Booker, whose poetry has been shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for first full collection, is a LHRI Fellow and Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Leeds University. She is working at the Harehills Compton Road Library researching the impact of Windrush women on fashion and the textiles industry in Yorkshire.
  • Vahni Capildeo is a Forward Prize-winning poet and the current Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds. Their work with community groups at Beeston’s Dewsbury Road library looks at the concept of migration, the multiple senses of ‘home’, and how everyone’s life is a tapestry of small and large journeys.
  • Khadijah Ibrahiim, credited as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, is a Leeds born and bred poet and playwright and founder of Leeds Young Authors. She is working with the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown exploring African Caribbean folklore and music traditions and their place in the UK pre and post-Windrush.


Poet in the City is one of the UK’s leading poetry organisations. Bringing poetry to life beyond books, producing classic and contemporary poetry performances and commissions taking on major ideas, issues and people, they showcase biopics, use poetry to animate cultural movements, and create dramatic poetry experiences in major arts venues and unusual spaces. Their mission is to make live poetry more popular and they work to bring large and diverse new audiences to the art form. For further information visit www.poetinthecity.co.uk

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 year and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals. Manuscripts, maps, stamps, music patents photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website – www.bl.uk – every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

Living Knowledge Network is a network of public and national libraries. The aim of the network is to share resources, skills and ideas promoting the enduring values of libraries.  The Living Knowledge Network reinforces the idea of the library as a transformative and accessible public asset – at its heart the mission is to make our intellectual heritage to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment. The network was founded by the British Library and co-founded by the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Leeds Libraries are one of the 22 Living Knowledge partners. There are 33 community libraries across the City as well as the main central library. Whether you are searching for the perfect book, studying, researching your family tree, setting up a business or looking for a new hobby we have a wealth of resources, spaces and activities to help.

Photograph of Khadijah, Malika and Vahni  provided by Faye Dawson PR.  

Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Further reading


Get Involved

Leeds Living is run entirely by volunteers with contributions from the community. We are an open platform and welcome anyone with an interest in Leeds, to get involved.

Stay Informed


Until you tell us otherwise we’ll now send you irregular emails packed full of all things Leeds.

You can stop this anytime you like and we’ll never use your email address for any other reason or share it with anyone.