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Poetry Competitions UK
15 Jun 2011

Dreadlockalien

Richard Grant is better known as Dreadlockalien, the slam and performance poet and former Birmingham poet laureate as well as a host of BBC Radio 4 Slam Poetry. Dreadlockalien is also Co-Director of Colour Free Visions Theatre, a founding member of the New October Poets, curator of the 'Art 4 Social Change' collection of ethnic art and Co-Director of the UK Schools' Poetry Slam Championships.


How old were you when you started writing poetry?

I have always likes song lyrics and poems but actually writing my first poem I was 27 years old.


When and where was your first poem performed?

My first performed poem I had written myself was at Rugby College, access course literature module, about 1995.


Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from experience, from the every day, the path you have trodden and the one you wish to run down.


Which of your poems is your favourite and why?

I love my 'Well Done' poem about encouraging young people. I perform it most days in schools or conferences so it's one of my most heard poems.


What has been your greatest (poetry) success to date?

To get the untraditional pupils I work with each day to attend class, pick up a pen and write a whole page is a success for me. The accolades and certificates along the way merely decorate the journey.


Do you have any poetry ambitions you'd still like to fulfil?

I'd love to organise a spoken word poetry festival in the UK.


Do you have a special place you write?

I own a tour van which I can park anywhere, plug in the laptop and write away. It's ideal for me and the travelling lifestyle I lead.


Who is your favourite poet and why?

This changes on a daily basis, in live literature you're only as good as your last performance, hot at the minute are Kate Tempest, Byron Vincent, Steven Camden and Oneness.


Can you recommend any spoken word acts we should try and see?

Google, Facebook and Twitter the following terms for an insight into spoken word UK:
Apples and Snakes, One Taste Poetry, Hammer and Tongue, Leeds' Young Authors. On  YouTube search for spoken word and slam poetry. Enjoy.


What is your fondest memory of being Birmingham's Poet Laureate?

I loved sitting for my portrait, I've been painted by Graham Kershaw on two occasions now. It felt quite posh.


Tell us more about the UK Schools Poetry Slam Championships …

An ongoing search for the very best of a new generation of poets. Word of mouth submissions from over 35 top poets working in schools throughout the year, assembles a small number of the hottest young slam poets the UK has to offer.


What do you find the pupils' perception of poetry is?

Most pupils find that literacy in general is dull, let alone the module of poetry. Great fertile ground for us to sow the seeds of learning with fun.


Tell us more about Colour Free Visions Theatre …

An evolution of the New October Poets that focuses on the education and corporate sectors. A collective of professional poets, literacy consultants and theatre directors, we network work and opportunities whilst developing and retailing products for schools.


Do you have any projects in the pipeline you'd like to share with us?

I am working closely with the Muslim Writers' Awards nurturing new talent as well as Soul City Arts based in Birmingham. Also developing a workshop for AQA Exam Support for the poetry module aiming to improve grades from Ds to Cs.


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