With strongly and beautifully worded pieces and a powerful presence, Tolu Agbelusi’s work addresses the unperformed self, womanhood and the art of living. Her delivery is simply enchanting. Known for simplicity and incredible depth, Tolu is a Nigerian British, poet, playwright, performer,producer, educator and lawyer, with compelling story telling skills.
Tolu was shortlisted for the 2018 White Review Poetry Prize and is a 2017 BBC Slam Finalist. Agbelusi has performed widely including at Stanza International Poetry Festival, Lagos Poetry Festival, the Southbank, St Paul’s Cathedral, IWM and for BBC World Service.
As a producer, Tolu secured Arts Council grants and developed the Home Is… project , a timely poetry based, cross-arts exploration of home and displacement involving interviews, workshops, theatre and a visual arts exhibition that showcased animation, dance, documentary and illustration, all in collaboration with poetry. Tolu also showcased her writing, performance, curatorial, production and facilitation skills through this process. Ilé La Wà, Tolu’s debut multi-hander play produced as part of the project received rave reviews from theatre critics following several sold-out shows.The production was staged at 14 venues across the country including Richmix, The Lowry Manchester, Curve Leicester, Stratford Circus, etc.
Building communities and empowering people through literature is central to Tolu’s artistic practice. She is the founder of Home Sessions, a sessional development program and community for Black poets under 30 which has had two successful cycles. She also facilitates a variety of workshops, using poetry and creative writing as a tool to explore different topics. In 2019, she worked closely with several academics in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Policy at King’s College London, using their research to create 5 workshops which were offered to students, faculty, and members of the public on topics spanning Brexit, Migration, Gender exclusion, the Politics of Language and the Rise of the far right. As guest facilitator to PhD students at Birbeck University Tolu created and led a bespoke 3 session ‘Poetry as Protest’ series in 2018. She was guest speaker at King’s College London for the Shakespeare Studies MA in 2017, and in 2019 created a workshop for the Maternal Journals project website.
A Callaloo Fellow, Tolu is published internationally, including in the White Review, Filigree Anthology by Peepal Tree Press, Ake Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Brittle Paper, Wildness Journal and After Ferguson, In Solidarity! An anthology published by Mourning Glory.
Her debut poetry collection Locating Strongwoman is now available for pre-order here.