Raw and smouldering, Babylon follows a young dancehall DJ (Brinsley Forde) in South London as he pursues his musical ambitions, battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbours, police, and the National Front of early eighties London. Written by Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges with beautifully smoky cinematography, Babylon is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, Dennis Bovell, and more.
Originally premiered in 1980 at Cannes film festival to rave reviews for its raw social realism and the way it refused to look away from some of the uglier things happening in South London, the film subsequently went unreleased in the U.S. for “being too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out). Now firmly seated in the cultural cannon, four poets respond to this cult-classic.
Courtney Conrad is a Jamaican poet. A member of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme, Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and a Barbican Young Poets. An alumni of Obsidian Foundation and Roundhouse Poetry Collective. A Bridport Prize Young Writers Award recipient shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize and Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Women Poets’ Prize. Her poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Poetry Wales, The White Review, Stand Magazine and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. She has performed at festivals including Glastonbury Festival, Brainchild Festival and UKYA City Takeover.
Keith Jarrett is a writer, performer and educator. UK poetry slam champion and FLUPP International Poetry Slam Winner, his work has included bilingual performances in Bilbao and Madrid, in addition to UK-wide commissions. His poem, ‘From the Log Book’, was projected onto the façade of St. Paul’s Cathedral and broadcast as a commemorative art installation, Where Light Falls, in 2019. His play, Safest Spot in Town, was performed at the Old Vic and aired on BBC Four. Selah, his poetry collection, was published in 2017.
Keith was selected for the International Literary Showcase by Val McDermid as one of 10 outstanding LGBT writers in the UK. He has judged the Polari Prize, the Foyle Young Poets Award, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021. Having recently completed his PhD at Birkbeck University, he is finishing his first novel and teaches at New York University in London.
Kirk-Ann is a Caribbean born, London based, spoken-word poet, playwright and theatre director. Her work often focuses on identity and the human experience. Roundhouse Resident Artist alumni and graduate of Young Vic’s Director Programme.Creative practitioner and multidisciplinary; she has worked for the likes of Talawa Theatre, Emergency Exit Arts and The London Bubble.
malakaï sargeant (they/them)
malakaï is an artist, educator and producer working in literature and live performance. Led by curiosity and care, malakaï creates and interrogates through an unapologetically Afrocentric lens. They co-founded and was Artistic Director of producing theatre company The S+K Project, and is Co-director of literary arts organisation BORN::FREE.
Karen McCarthy Woolf
Born in London to English and Jamaican parents, Dr Karen McCarthy Woolf is a poet whose first collection An Aviary of Small Birds was shortlisted for the Forward and Jerwood Prizes. Her second, Seasonal Disturbances is a ‘witty and nuanced’ (BBC Arts) take on nature, migration, the city and the sacred, was written while she was Writer in Residence at the UK’s National Maritime Museum and was a winner in the inaugural Laurel Prize for Ecopoetry. Through 2019-20 she was a Fulbright postdoctoral scholar and writer-in-residence at the Promise Institute for Human Rights at the University of California, Los Angeles where her research focused on how poetry is used to express safe spaces in complex environments. Her work has been translated into Turkish, Swedish, Italian and Spanish, made into poetry film, exhibited on the London Underground, and dropped from a helicopter over the Houses of Parliament.
We Are Lewisham is presented by Lewisham Council and the Albany as part of the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022.