Funded by a major grant (2018-20) from Arts Council England, LIT UP is Waterloo Press’s new mentoring and publication scheme for emerging poets of colour. Initiated in recognition of the need to improve the diversity of our list, and that of the UK poetry publishing world in general, LIT UP aims to shine a spotlight on talented poets, and hopefully encourage other poets from diverse backgrounds to submit their work to Waterloo Press in future. Work produced by the scheme will include new volumes of poetry, podcasts, videos and live events.

The scheme is being co-managed by Sussex-based writer, spoken word artist and coach Akila Richards, and Waterloo Press editor Naomi Foyle. Akila is mentoring the cohort and liaising with Naomi and WP editors Simon Jenner and John O’Donoghue, and events manager/performance coach Carole Bremson to provide a range of support and opportunities for the participants. The nine LIT-UP poets are working with Akila and a WP editor to publish a pamphlet or full collection by the end of the project in Spring 2020.

The nine LIT UP poets are (left to right, by row): Uzmah Ali, Jay Délise, Wajid Hussein, Kev Inn, Arun Jeetoo, Des Mannay, Catherine Okoronkwo, Sea Sharp and Merrie Joy Williams.

In Feb 2019, the WP team and the LIT UP cohort met for the first time at the offices of New Writing South in Brighton, where they shared food, thoughts, laughter, plans and poems – captured by videomaker Daniel Lawton in this showreel of talent. [To see clips of the individual poets performing, please click through to our Videos page]