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She Did It Her Way

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British born Barbadian raised poet, dancer, choreographer and researcher whose exhilarating style of poetics is a force to be reckoned with . Her interdisciplinary art, braids dance and poetry on the page and stage. She is a PhD student in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds.

Safiya's first spoken word encounter happened by chance in 2017 at a poetry slam called Milk Poetry in Bristol, hosted by Malaika Kegode. Safiya was dared to perform after a poet did not show up, she performed a freestyle and the host encouraged her to continue. Safiya was at first reluctant, but soon discovered poetry could bridge her passion for cultural studies and dance. In 2018, when studying poetic form, Safiya encountered challenges unique to her neurodiversity. To overcome her obstacles she began using dance to develop her own innovative frameworks to write, create choreography & unearth lost narratives. Safiya's debut collection 'Cane, Corn & Gully' was published by Out-Spoken Press in November 2022. The collection explored her Barbadian heritage through the dances of women, the book was written in partnership with the Barbados Museum & Historical Society.  'Cane, Corn & Gully' is the first book to feature dance notation of the enslaved.

Her unique interdisciplinary style on the page and stage has led her to become a force to be reckoned with in the poetry community. Safiya won multiple national slam championships including the UK Hammer & Tongue National Slam Championships and the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Award. In 2020 she was awarded The New Voice in Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Page Poetry Prize and Creative Future Writer’s Award. She is an Obsidian Foundation fellow & Apples & Snakes/ Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance recipient. Her notable commissions include writing for English Heritage, BBC Bitesize and The Wailers. 

In 2021 Safiya started a free poetry poetry programme in Barbados; the initiative offers professional lessons teaching a variety of techniques, form & poetry around the world and across time. 


Before poetry, Safiya's dance talent was discovered at the age of 14 at Swindon Dance Academy. In college Safiya won multiple competitions for public speaking as part of the Rotary Speakers' National Competitions. She then went on to study Cultural Studies (University of Leeds, BA) then Dance Cultures (University of Surrey, MA). 


Awards & Achievements

  • White Rose Arts & Humanities Doctoral Scholarship 

  • ' The Guardian's Best Poetry Roundup - Read Here

  • Poetry Book Society 'Winter Choice - Read Here


(This bio will be updated regularly to keep up with her.)



How I Stay Awesome:

  • I will write whatever moves me.

  • All parties will to be treated respectfully, this includes self-respect.

  • All parties will value each other's services: no free work. 

  • I will honour the national Barbadian pledge: respecting those who came before me & those who will come after me.

  • I will eat plantain as a main dish.

  • I will remain humble & I will celebrate my victories.

  • I will give credit where credit is due. 

  • I will not be subservient to anything or anyone who disrupts my spirit.

  • My slayage & style will be on point.

  • I will not apologise for who I am, nor will I shrink to appease others.

  • I will give myself hugs when I "fail", then start again. 

  • I will cater to my needs, I will rest, I will dance before answering emails.

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