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18 January 2024

Writer-in-Residence 2023/24 - Reece Williams

We are delighted to reveal our latest Writer-in-Residence, the talented poet and writer Reece Williams. As Wasafiri enters its 40th year – spanning four decades of championing diverse voices – Reece Williams will play a pivotal role in continuing Wasafiri's tradition of pushing the boundaries of literary exploration. His energy, passion, and commitment to engagement promise to strengthen regional networks and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of voices that define Wasafiri's legacy.

As our sixth Writer-in-Residence, Reece follows in the footsteps of accomplished predecessors who have contributed significantly to Wasafiri's history, especially in recent years. Each residency has added a unique chapter to our narrative, from Jennifer Wong's provocations with language and human geography, to Jessica Gaitán Johannesson’s exploration of climate emergency activism, and Durre Shahwar’s beautiful life-writing pieces and workshops over the last three years.

Recently, Reece developed his debut poetry collection This Kind of Black into a theatre piece which graced the stage at Manchester's HOME theatre in November 2023. This unique blend of poetry and theatre showcased Reece's ability to transcend traditional boundaries and explore storytelling in dynamic ways.

Commenting on his appointment, Reece Williams said: 'I'm absolutely delighted to have been appointed as Writer-in-Residence at Wasafiri. I have been a secret admirer of the magazine for some time and have always been inspired by its passion to shine a brighter lens on writers from African, Asian, Caribbean, and Black British backgrounds. I'm excited to work alongside the team to devise and deliver a range of exciting workshops which centre Black Mancunian voices and experiences as well as penning an article which shares insight on the communities that I am proud to belong to.'

Wasafiri's Editor and Publishing Director Sana Goyal said: 'We're thrilled that Reece is our sixth Writer-in-Residence. His work on the page and the stage, as a writer and performer based in Manchester, is bound to bring new audiences and perspectives to Wasafiri. We can't wait to witness his energy and passion for engagement in his writing workshops and other activities during our 40th anniversary year and also strengthen our regional networks by way of this promising new partnership.'

As we embark on this exciting new chapter, stay tuned for further updates on Reece's writing workshops, engagements, and the compelling narratives that will unfold during his residency.

Reece Williams is a towering presence on the northern spoken word and poetry scene. He joined poetry collective Young Identity in 2007, performing across the UK and internationally with the likes of Saul Williams, Kae Tempest, The Last Poets and the late Amiri Baraka. His debut poetry collection This Kind of Black (Spring 2025), was enabled by ACE funding, and residencies with Apples and Snakes.

Reece is the former Community Engagement Manager for Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, and is the regular compere of legendary spoken word event One Mic Stand. A former trustee of Manchester’s renowned Contact Theatre, Reece is passionate about youth engagement, cultural policy and race relations. He embeds peer mentoring and advocacy of active citizenship through the arts into his professional practice. He was a longstanding Peer Mentor on The Agency, a UK-wide project delivered by Contact and Battersea Arts Centre to empower young people from economically deprived communities to create projects that foster social change.

Over the last year Reece has been developing This Kind of Black as a concept for a theatre show. Reece is lead artist, writer and performer on the production. Funded by Jerwood Arts New Work Fund and ACE and inspired by the workshops delivered through the Poetry in Performance programme, Reece developed a full-length production from poems he had written for his upcoming debut poetry collection. Working with a full creative team led by the highly experienced dramaturg and producer Matt Fenton, former Artistic Director of Contact Theatre, Reece performed a sell-out show at HOME in Manchester and The Storyhouse (Chester).

Alongside this, Reece has been working on high-profile commissions from The Guardian and Penguin. The Guardian commissioned him to write about Len Johnson, a famous Manchester-born boxer and race activist. The poem was published as part of their Cotton Capital series. Penguin commissioned Reece to write about Walter Tull, one of the first professional footballers of colour. The anthology was published in July 2023.


Photo courtesy of Audrey Albert 
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