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Zena Edwards

: Poet 

: Project Maker

: Curator

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Why I write

I dream of returning to water,

Each drop with genius within

I melt into mineral -

iron fleck, porcelain clay

And saltpetre, the spark-catcher,

The seed vessel of the flame.

I’ve been writing since I was a child.
Poetry is the one literary form that has given me space and freedom  to truly express the feelings I feel for the awesomeness and drama the world has to offer. For all the years I’ve been writing, the poetic word, performed, spoken or read from the page, has always been the love I return to as a North Star, as an old friend, and as a confidante.

After graduating from Middlesex University and studying storytelling and performance at The London International School for Performing Arts,  Zena has been a professional writer/performance poet, curator and  creative project developer for over 30 years.

She is known as a renowned award winning UK based poet of Afri-Carib-British heritage, however
she is also a multidisciplinary artist, at home with collaborating with musicians, choreographers, environmental growers and visual artists.

The list of acclaimed artists she has worked with includTheaster Gates, Ackroyd and Harvey and Akram Khan.

Zena was was shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Best Single Poem Performed for 2023.

As a theatre maker  she has directed for Contact Young Creatives at Contact Theatre, Manchester, for Redbridge Theatre Company as part of Jonzi D's Breakin' Convention for Sadlers Wells.


Her writing practice involves photography and experimental sketching and film as tools to explore and enhance her writing.

Since 2005 she has been exploring movement and the concept of ‘the body is the ear’.  

Her writing and performance pedagogy is currently exploring  the connection to the body, the imagination and the earth.

Embodiment and the natural environment is now a crucial writing stimulus for all her new work.

Her most recent project, Nature Persists is exploring this work more thoroughly.

An Artist's Charitable Principle

by Zena Edwards

I have a prevailing Artist's Charitable Principle.

It was recommended to me by a long-ago mentor, Suzanne Allyene.

A charitable principle, to my ethos and way of thinking, is rooted in the alignment of your sense of purpose with a / the cause you wish to support; to see it achieve all its goals, fulfil its intentions, and reach its full potential.


As an artist and a poet, whose love of words, and their ability to liberate the mind, channel the emotions and give voice to the intellect, imagination, and psyche, I am committed to, not only the space creation for those who love words as I do, but also to support those who wish to create space such as these too.


This is where I gift my labour, experience, and time; for a cause that I believe in, and do not have to get paid for.


More recently, over the last 7 years I would say, I have been committed to environmental awareness raising for the health of all of Life on Earth.


I will do this without request or need of a fee, remuneration or honorarium.


(NB: However, there must be a contractual noted agreement in place that defines boundaries, and stipulates where my practice and ethos aligns and separates from those of the other party with whom I am commissioned by and / or in partnership with.)

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Performance Poet

Zena has been a performance poet from the very beginning of her poetry career and is always exploring the craft. With a passion for storytelling, a captivating stage presence, and a voice that resonates with emotion, Zena is a multidisciplinary artist who has dedicated her life to the world of performance.

“Edwards is a superb performer.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Convincing, raw performance full of passion and conviction.”  The British Theatre Guide 

“A deeply original, dramatically dexterous portrait of London’s bewildering kaleidoscope of difficult, defiant life.”  Time Out

“An unlimited supply of potent charged poetry, which is moving, relevant, innovative.”  Whats On Stage

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Poet With Music

Music is at the core of Zena's writing and performance practice.

"For me, poetry is a musical score that deepens the meaning of language in the moment and words are the musical notes ."

Her music collaborations include The Last Poets, composer and guitarist, Femi Temowo, Jamie Woon, and Randolf Matthews, .

She was invited as support for  Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis as part of the London Jazz Festival and collaborated with Award Winning  musician Senegalese artist Babaa Maal, for Africa Utopia at the Royal Festival Hall.

In Other Words - a collaboration with Jamie Woon. Produced by Apples and Snakes Poetry Organisation 

Healing Pool in collaboration with Randolf Mathews, Henrik Jensen, Maurice Velez. Produced by The One Taste Collective

Wood And String in collaboration with Femi Temowo 

Poet Of
Environmental Conscience

Zena has been involved in climate and environmental awareness raising since 2016. 

Her poetic advocacy work includes  climate and environmental awareness, sustainability, well being and regeneration.
Her writing and performance pedagogy is rooted in identifying the connection to the Earth, the body, human resilience and the imagination which greatly informs her mentorship practice.


Nature Persists her most recent inititiative which uses creativity and somatic principles to view the body as an intelligent vessel that can hold the duality of nature and the man-made environment, and find a wholistic balance of comfort and well being between the two.



Writing and Performance for Radio

 She was  commissioned to write for BBC Radio Three's adaptaion of Virgina Woolfe's Orlando which was nominated for the BBC Radio Drama Awards, and has performed for on Michael Macmillian's 'The Verb' on numerous occasions. 


Her commissions for poetic dramatic writing, span across a number of years. Her own passion for  the oral tradition creating soundscape and audio story-telling has seen her commissioned by Writers Mosaic and the Bernie Grants Arts Centre Windrush Commemoration Day.

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