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Part of: Exile and Arrival: Poetry Translation Centre's 20th Birthday Showcase in Norfolk Polylingual Poetry Open Mic

National Centre for Writing

The world needs to hear your voice! Join us for a unique poetry open mic night with a polylingual flavour.

Hosted by accomplished poet Phoebe Wagner, at this event we’ll hear from two stunning headline performers, ko ko thett and Fathima Zahra, who each have their own spin on the polylingual poem.

We’ll also invite you to the stage! Open mic-ers can share two poems each: one that’s free choice, and one from a language other than English.

If you speak more than one language, you could share poems you’ve written in English or another of your languages, poems mixing them together, verses you were taught as a child, songs from your grandmother’s home town, your favourites from Instagram, the wisdom of your forefathers in rhyming couplets… no translations necessary.

If you’re monolingual, we challenge you to get up and share a poem of your own and a poem from Africa, Asia or Latin America that’s been translated into English - why not start with the Poetry Translation Centre’s poem archive? We’ll provide some of these printed out on the night.

This will be an evening where English is not the default language and all languages are welcome - from Arabic to Zapotec, Portuguese Creole to Cantonese, Somali to Spanish and every other language spoken in Norfolk.

We invite as many performers of all ages, stages and backgrounds as possible to take to the stage, but if you’re feeling nervous, never fear - you’re more than welcome to bring nothing but applause and cheers to this linguistic cracker of an evening.

This event is presented by the Poetry Translation Centre, the only UK organisation dedicated to translating, publishing and promoting contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America. It’s the final event in a showcase weekend at the National Centre for Writing, kick-starting the Poetry Translation Centre’s 20th birthday year of celebrations. Throughout 2024, the PTC will be running events and workshops around England, open to all. Find out more about our exciting line-up, upcoming publications, young people’s programme and online activity at

As an open mic, this event may cover difficult or adult themes. All are welcome but age 14+ recommended.

More about the host

Phoebe Wagner (she/her) is a poet and community artist. She was part of the Poetry Translation Centre’s UNDERTOW programme in 2021 and hosts pub quizzes around London. Some of her poems are Spanglish because she grew up half understanding her Mum and Abuela's chatter. Her commissioned short film, '(Pub)lic House', released in March, explores empty pubs in her hometown, Croydon, with her Dad. She published her debut pamphlet, The Body You're In, with Bad Betty Press in 2019.

More about the headliners

ko ko thett’s heart language is Burmese, but he often dunks himself in the discomfort of English. His poems are widely published and translated. His translation work has been recognised with an English PEN Translates Award. His most recent poetry collection Bamboophobia (Zephyr Press, 2022) was shortlisted for the Walcott Prize. He lives in Norwich, UK.

Fathima Zahra (she/her) is an Indian poet and performer based in London. She is an alum of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Barbican Young Poets and BBC 1Xtra Words First. Her poems have won the Bridport prize, Asia House Poetry Slam and Wells Fest Young Poets Prize. Her debut pamphlet sargam/swargam was PBS Pamphlet Choice (2021).

Phoebe and Zahra are alumni of the Poetry Translation Centre’s UNDERTOW programme for polylingual young poets, which will open for applications again soon.

This event is supported by Arts Council England.

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