Tolu Agbelusi is a Nigerian British, poet, playwright, performer, educator and lawyer whose work addresses the unperformed self, womanhood and the art of living.
Her debut poetry collection Locating Strongwoman (Jacaranda Books) was published in October 2020. A Callaloo Fellow, Agbelusi’s work was shortlisted for the 2018 White Review Poetry Prize and she was a 2017 BBC Slam Finalist. She has been published internationally and widely including in Wildness Journal, Aké Review, White Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Brittle Paper and Peepal Tree’s Filligree Anthology. She has given readings internationally including at Cheltenham Literary Festival, Stanza International Poetry Festival, Lagos International Poetry Festival, Poetry Africa, the London Southbank and for the BBC. Her poetry film, Wake Up, was selected and screened at the 2016 Zebra Poetry Film Festival.Showcasing her multi-disciplinary talents, Agbelusi curated and produced the Home Is… project which explored the concept of home in the context of constant displacement. As part of the project, she wrote and produced the play Ilé La Wà (we are home), which debuted to a sold out audience at Richmix in 2016 and subsequently toured the UK, staging productions at Stratford Circus, Contact, The Lowry, The Curve, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, Proteus and Streatham Space. She also filmed a series of documentaries exploring Black British experiences and curated poetry based collaborations with animation, illustration and dance which culminated in exhibitions that were mounted at Richmix, Stratford Circus and Proteus. Utilising her ability to curate creative cultural experiences, Agbelusi was a consultant for the Home Exhibition which took place at King’s College University, London’s Exchange hub.
Using poetry and performance as a translation tool for academic research, Agbelusi has worked with a wide range of academics at King’s College London devising and leading workshops on topics including Brexit, exclusion, Gender Based Violence, the politics of language and the far right, etc. She devised and led ‘Poetry as Protest to Black Letter Law’ for Phd Students at Birbeck. Agbelusi is the founder of Home Sessions, a development hub for young Black poets. She facilitates poetry and creative writing workshops nationally and internationally for schools, arts centres, festivals, universities and various writing communities.
Agbelusi’s work has been supported by Arts Council England, Counterpoint Arts, Writerz ‘n’ Scribez. She serves on the board of Young Identity. She is also a practicing human rights lawyer.
- Exeter (UNESCO City of Literature) Quay Words & Library Unlimited Writer-in-Residence, chronicling the stories of Exeter’s remarkable women
- Writer and Director on art films for Feast Afrique (tracking migration through food) screened at the 2021 Forecast Festival and at the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) New York;
- Facilitated third season of Home Sessions in collaboration with Writerz ‘n’ Scribez