Books / Poetry

Preview: Raise the Bar presents Still I Rise: Poetry & Resistance, Arnolfini

By lowie trevena, Wednesday Nov 20, 2019

Raise the Bar will ring out 2019 with a bang as the spoken word and poetry company invite three of the country’s best BAME poets to the stage.

Taking place on Wednesday, December 11 at the Arnolfini and coinciding with the art gallery’s latest exhibition, Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, the show will illustrate the role of poetry in activism.


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Bristol poet Birdspeed will perform alongside Travis Alabanza and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, with city poet Vanessa Kisuule hosting the evening.

In what will be a selection of special of performances from prominent poets and activists, the performers will highlight the power and role of poets in shaping resistance movements.

Bristol-based, Barbadian-raised poet Birdspeed was crowned National Poetry Slam Champion in 2019, as well as BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam Championship and BBC1 Extra/BBC Asian Network’s Talent Search. Having secured a hat trick of awards during the year, expect to see one of the country’s best rising stars.

Birdspeed won at the Edinburgh Fringe this year

Joining Birdspeed on the night is trans activist and performer Travis Alabanza. Currently touring their award-winning show Burgerz, they return to their hometown of Bristol to perform some of their excellent spoken word pieces.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, also known at The Brown Hijabi, completes the stellar lineup. A poet, writer and speaker. Her work challenges the current narratives around racism, gendered oppression, Islamophobia, state violence, knowledge production and colonialism.

Having performed across the country, released a book and spoken at TEDx, she published her debut poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter, in September 2019.

Vanessa Kisuule, Bristol’s city poet, will tie the evening together, hosting each poet and completing an incredible lineup.

Vanessa Kisuule will guest host the evening

With work drawn from international movements, historical activist material, and black feminist/womanist survival strategies, the Still I Rise exhibition at the Arnolfini shows how the struggle for liberation is ongoing – and hard-won.

With some of the best BAME voices on the spoken word circuit in 2019, this poetry night of the same name will cement this very real struggle.

Find out more and book tickets at

Main photo by Jay Lee.

Read more: Preview: Burgerz, Weston Studio

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