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, educator and lawyer, with compelling story telling skills.
Shortlisted for the 2018 White Review Poetry Prize, Tolu has also been listed as one the Best British Writers of Colour by Speaking Volumes in 2017, and ‘Longlisted for the inaugural Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships’ in 2017. 2017 BBC Slam Finalist, she has performed widely including at the Southbank’s WOW Festival 2017 with her project ‘Conversations With My Sisters’, as one of the headline poets at Southdown Poetry Festival, at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, as Poet in Residence at Postman’s Park in collaboration with the Poetry School and London Park’s and Garden’s Trust and for BBC World Service.
Notably, supported by several Arts Council grants Tolu produced 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 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. It will be on tour in Spring 2019.
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 writing sessions on demand, most recently as term Facilitator for Rewrite, and Associate Artist for 3ff on their young people’s manifesto project where she coordinated 25+ young people over a month to explore and create a poetry styled manifesto in collaboration with a film-maker. Tolu was guest lecturer to PhD students at Birbeck University on a short bespoke ‘Poetry as Protest’ series and guest speaker at King’s College London for the Shakespeare Studies MA.
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 and After Ferguson, In Solidarity! An anthology published by Mourning Glory.
Tolu is currently working on her first poetry collection.