About us

About the trustees

Introduction to the Trustees

Sandy Balfour

Sandy Balfour

Chair

Sandy Balfour is an author and prize-winning television producer. He currently serves as a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner and is a council member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. He was previously CEO of the Canon Collins Trust. He was chair of Divine Chocolate from its launch in 1998  until 2010, and subsequently chaired its sister company Liberation Foods CiC. 

Jorge Llorens

Jorge Llorens

Treasurer

Jorge Llorens has worked for more than 20 years in the finance sector, in London and Madrid. Throughout his career in investment and corporate banking, he has held senior management roles in international organizations such as Goldman Sachs, EBRD and BBVA, in areas such as Mergers & Acquisitions advisory and Client Coverage.

Jorge is also a Treasurer and Trustee at Voluntary Action Islington.

Alireza Abiz

Alireza Abiz

Alireza Abiz is an Iranian poet, literary critic and translator.

Abiz has written extensively on Persian contemporary literature and culture. His scholarly book ‘Censorship of Literature in Post-Revolutionary Iran: Politics and Culture since 1979’ is forthcoming by I. B. Tauris.

He has so far published five collections of poetry in Persian: Stop! We must get off, Spaghetti with Mexican Sauce, I can hear a tree from my desk, 13/1 Koohsangi Street, and Black Line- London Underground which won the Shamlou Poetry Award in 2018. His sixth collection, The Desert Monitor is forthcoming.  Abiz is an award-winning translator and has translated some leading English language poets including W.B. Yeats, Ted Hughes, Basil Bunting, Derek Walcott, Allen Ginsberg and C.K. Williams into Persian.  

Abiz has also worked in the media as a journalist and broadcast journalist and is currently employed as the Creative Director in a media company.

Jen McDerra

Jen McDerra

Jen McDerra is a Postgraduate Researcher in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia where she is writing her doctoral thesis on women’s transnational literary networks as part of the Caribbean Literary Heritage project

Jen teaches and co-convenes the MA Publishing module at UEA and is Commissioning Editor for UPP, encompassing the Strangers Press imprint which works in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation. As part of this role, Jen is currently working as an Education Consultant with the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Jen also tutors for The Brilliant Club which works to increase the number of underrepresented pupils progressing to highly selective universities.

Previously Jen was CEO at the Charles Causley Trust which exists to further the legacy of the poet through opportunities for those engaged with Cornish heritage and the community. Prior to this Jen held a number of roles within the literature sector, including Programme Officer for Commonwealth Writers, Development Manager for The Reader, and Community Relations Officer at Barefoot Books.

Jen became a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme in 2018. You can find her at the intersection of narrative, migration, and self-discovery – or in Bristol where she lives.

Octavia Lamb

Octavia Lamb

Octavia Lamb is a poet and political advisor. She was the winner of the inaugural Robert Graves Poetry Prize, and has had poems published in several publications and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Previously a picture editor at the BBC and Labour councillor in Southwark, she now advises on local government policy and public affairs.

Bohdan Piasecki

Bohdan Piasecki

Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, from underground Tokyo clubs to tramways in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events. 

Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in Translation Studies from the University of Warwick. He has worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and was the Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes between 2010 and 2017. Since 2012, he has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. He currently holds the post of Creative Producer at Beatfreeks.

Janet Remmington

Janet Remmington

Janet Remmington is a scholarly publisher, researcher, reviewer, and writer. She works as journals editorial director for the global Arts & Humanities programme and regional director for Africa at Routledge, Taylor & Francis. With two decades of publishing experience, she has pioneered interdisciplinary publications and partnership arrangements, and championed global South authorship and resource access. In her research capacity, Janet has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on African literature, and she co-edited Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present, which won the 2018 Non-Fiction Prize from South Africa’s National Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences. She is completing a cultural history of black South African travel texts for a PhD at the University of York. Janet has Masters degrees in English Literature (University of Cape Town), African Studies (University of Oxford), Creative Writing (Royal Holloway, University of London) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Studies in Publishing (Oxford Brookes). She has published creative non-fiction, poetry, and reviews in literary magazines, while facilitating creative exchanges and publication opportunities across borders.