Artist Biographies



Bob Beagrie is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University. He co-runs the Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret and Ek Zuban press. His books include The Seer Sung Husband, SAMPO: Heading Further North (written with Andy Willoughby) and Leásungpell. His poetry has been translated into Urdu, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Russian, Danish, Spanish, and Swedish.





Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze is a Jamaican dub poet. She has worked as a theatre director, choreographer, actor and teacher and has performed her work around the world. She also released several albums, and published many books, including Song Lines, The Arrival of Brighteye, The Fifth Figure, Third World Girl: Selected Poems and The Verandah Poems.





Graham Clifford works as a head-teacher in London. He has been published widely, both here and abroad, and has been translated into German and Romanian. His most recent book is The Hitting Game.





Amir Darwish was born in Aleppo, in Syria. He came to the UK during the First Iraq War and studied at the universities of Teesside and Durham. His poems have been widely published in the UK and the US. His first full-length collection is Don’t Forget the Couscous.





Julie Egdell has been published in magazines in the UK, Mexico and France, and included in the Bloodaxe anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women, The Break-Out Anthology and  a Dark Matter chapbook. Her debut collection Alice in Winterland is forthcoming from Smokestack.





Steve Ely is a poet, novelist, dramatist and biographer. His books include Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough, two books of poetry, Oswald’s Book of Hours (short-listed for the Forward Prize and the Ted Hughes Award) and Englaland.





Tony Harrison is arguably the most important poet writing in English today. The author of From the School of Eloquence, A Kumquat for John Keats, Laureate's Block, and the pioneering film-poems Prometheus, The Blasphemer’s Banquet and The Gaze of the Gorgon, he has also translated Racine, Moliere, Aristophanes, Hugo, Aeschylus and Sophocles for the National Theatre. His many awards include the European Prize for Literature and the 2014 European Poetry Prize.





Julie Hogg is a Poet and Playwright with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Teesside. She teaches in Middlesbrough. Her work has been published in many magazines and anthologies and featured in a chapbook, Dark Matter 2 from Black Light Engine Room Press. Her debut book, Majuba Road from Vane Women Press, is launched during the festival.





Nader Al Hussein was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Lebanon and now studies Psychology at Teesside University. He has published poetry, criticism and stories in the Lebanese newspaper al akhbar, usually under the pseudonym shahid aayan (‘witness’).  





Wajid Hussain is a qualified engineer, an artist and a ‘3D poet’ from Newcastle. He recently performed in Washington DC as part of Where is this Going? His latest project SiaM explores self-identity and migration. His first book Erratum is out this Summer.





Jyrki K. Ihalainen is a Finnish poet, publisher and translator. He has published thirty-four collections of poetry in Finnish, English and Danish, and produced three albums of poertry and music. He edits the magazine Kirjo, is the artistic director of the Annikki Poetry Festival and runs Palladium Books, publishing many poets in translation, including Gary Snyder, Paul Eluard and André Breton.





Helianne Kallio is a Finnish poet, and writer who works as a literary arts instructor with the elderly and with people with memory disorder. She often performs her work with the poetry band Vallan Kumous and in the duo Runorytmiduo Kallio & Karttila.





SJ Litherland has twice been commended in the National Poetry Competition. A founding member of the Vane Women collective, her collections include The Poetry of Perestroika, The Absolute Bonus of Rain, The Work of the Wind and The Homage.





p.a. morbid is a poet/outsider artist/gnostic/local historian/editor-MC of The Black Light Engine Room.





Mike Pratt is CEO of Northumberland Wildlife Trust. He has published two books of poetry, Wild and A Recipe for a Snow Bunting's Nest, both from Mudfog Press.





Shazea Quraishi was born in Pakistan, emigrated to Canada and lived in Madrid before moving to London where she works as a writer, teacher and translator. She has published a pamphlet, The Courtesans Reply, and a full-length collection, The Art of Scratching.





Mark Robinson was the founder-editor of Scratch magazine and Mudfog Press, his books include The Horse Burning Park, Half a Mind and How I Learned to Sing, a ‘Read Regional’ selection in 2014. His poem ‘The Infinite Town’ is carved onto a large plinth on Stockton High Street.





Joelle Taylor is a former UK slam champion, founder of the national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors and hosts the Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Day: LIVE. Her books include Ska Tissue and The Woman Who Was Not There.





Goran Simic was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A major literary figure in the former Yugoslavia, during the Bosnian War he was caught in the siege of Sarajevo. He has published two collections of stories, ten puppet plays, three opera-libretti and twenty books of poetry including Immigrant Blues, Sunrise in the Eyes of the Snowman, From Sarajevo with Sorrow and New and Selected Sorrows.





George Szirtes was born in Budapest and came to the UK as a refugee in 1956. His most recent books of poetry are Reel, New and Collected Poems, The Burning of the Books and Bad Machine. Reel was awarded the T S Eliot Prize for 2004. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.





Karlis Verdins is a researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia. He has published four collections of poetry, a book for children and translations of Eliot, Brodsky, Whitman and Yeats. His own poetry has been translated in many languages, including collections in Russian, Polish and Czech. A selection of his poems is published in English as Come to Me.





Andy Willoughby is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University. He co-runs the Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret and Ek Zuban press, working in community and educational settings with hard to reach groups. His books include Tough, SAMPO: Heading Further North (written with Bob Beagrie) and Between Stations.






Peg Powler are a four piece folk/blues/acoustic band fron Teesside and North Yorkshire. Their songs are influenced by folklore, local history, industrial landscapes, seascapes, literature and otherwordliness. They take their name from the mytical riverhag of the Tees who is said to pull young children and wayward young men into the bubbling river, never to be seen again.  @pegpowlerband.