Sophie Collins and Kayo Chingonyi

Associate Poets

As a response to the growing intersection between art and poetry today, this Associate Poet programme continues a long-standing interest and engagement with language and poetry throughout the ICA’s history. Both Herbert Read and Roland Penrose, who founded the ICA in 1946, were poets themselves; a particular interest which was reflected in the ICA’s programme in the early stages of its history from readings and publications to performances, the institution became a platform for contemporary poets at that time, including such luminaries as T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Bob Cobbing and Dylan Thomas.

In the post-war period, the 1965 ICA exhibition Between Poetry and Painting curated by Jasia Reichardt was one of the first significant exhibitions on concrete poetry, a subject which was later re-addressed in 2009 in the exhibition Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. (2009) which examined the legacy of concrete poetry through contemporary art practices. More recently, the ICA has presented the work of artists and poets David Robilliard (2014) and Adrian Henri (2015).

Sophie Collins and Kayo Chingonyi joined us as the inaugural ICA Associate Poets for a period of ten months, starting in July 2015. Following the Associate Artist programme that includes NTS, Luke Fowler and 6a architects, these appointments marked the beginning of an exciting range of events and projects.
For a period of five months each, Sophie Collins and Kayo Chingonyi devised a programme of talks, poetry readings and performances which took place at the ICA. Sophie Collins's residency began in July 2015, following her participation in the performance event Looks Live on 19 June. Kayo Chingonyi participated in the ICA’s programme from November 2015.

Belinda Zhawi was the ICA's Associate Poet from Autumn 2016 to Spring 2017. Zhawi took over from previous Associate Poets Sophie Collins and Kayo Chingonyi, and devised a programme of talks, poetry readings and performances that took place at the ICA.
Sophie Collins is co-editor of tender, an online quarterly promoting work by female-identified writers and artists. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry London, The White Review, Ploughshares, Poetic Series (Sternberg Press), The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt), and elsewhere. Reviews and essays are published in Prac Crit, Poetry Review and Dazed & Confused. In 2014 she received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was a poet in residence at the LUMA/Westbau exhibition space in Zürich. She is now editing Currently & Emotion, an anthology of translations to be published by Test Centre in late 2015. Her first collection will be published by Penguin in 2017.

Maybe it’s simplest to say that my poems could be characterised by miscellany - certainly, in my reading, I’m drawn towards the work of other poets, including Holly Pester, Chelsey Minnis, Linda Kunhardt and Lucy Ives, who seem to show a similar kind of mutability and/or restlessness. My hope is that working with the ICA will enable me to foreground translation and the translators who I feel are currently doing vital work, as well as to continue the work begun with tender, a co-edited online project which showcases work by female writers and artists in quarterly PDFs. - Sophie Collins

Read our interview with Sophie Collins

Kayo Chingonyi is a writer, editor, events producer, and creative writing tutor. His poems have been published in a range of magazines and anthologies and in a debut pamphlet entitled Some Bright Elegance (Salt Publishing, 2012). In 2013 he was awarded a writing residency at Cove Park (Scotland) as well as the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize from the Poetry Society. He represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity in British Poetry, and has been invited to give readings and performances across the UK and further afield in Ireland, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, and South Africa. Kayo is currently working on his first full-length collection entitled Kumukanda and a new pamphlet is forthcoming from the African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Brooklyn-based independent publisher Akashic Books, in 2016.

My work is concerned with and influenced by the musicality in language and the non-linguistic meanings enacted by sound, literary theory, Hip Hop, Black Studies, Contemporary British and American Poetry, DJing, Sampling and Music Production. Lately my artistic practice has been concerned with bringing together my interest in poetry, music, and dance. The ICA is space where a range of art forms intersect and I'll be using this environment, and the role of Associate Poet, to extend this hybrid approach and devise a programme that takes in a range of influences, presenting poetry in surprising contexts. - Kayo Chingonyi

Read our interview with Kayo Chingonyi

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator who lives and works in London. Her work mostly focuses on memories of living in rural and urban Zimbabwe. She has performed across the UK in numerous venues, festivals and events including at Africa Writes, Bestival and TATE, with her work published in the anthologies Liminal Animals and Casagrande: Rain Of Poems. In 2013, Zhawi featured on Channel 4’s Random Acts and also co-founded the monthly poetry night, BORN::FREE. Zhawi was shortlisted for 2015-16 Young Poet Laureate’s London role.

As a Black African migrant woman writer living in London, I'm interested in exploring hidden and marginalised narratives that are part of what makes London. It will  be an interesting year of exploring ideas around home, displacement and migration through art, workshops, talks and discussions. This will be a chance to see what poetry and spoken word can contribute to all this unpacking. - Belinda Zhawi