Poet • Mentor • Author
Shirley May is a poet from the Speakeasy Collective in Manchester. She co-managed the collective for five years and was a member of Commonword's writing development agency.
Shirley writes from a Caribbean diaspora reference point and her writing includes her expression of being part of the Black British Canon. Shirley believes her role is to make both performance and page poetry accessible to young people in Manchester. She has worked for 25 years to promote a culture around performance poetry by mentoring and supporting new writers in schools and community groups. Shirley and her team of young writers and mentors 'Young Identity' believe that the voice of young people in writing is as valid as adult writers.
Shirley May has performed predominately in the North West, nationally and internationally, appearing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York and the Calabash writing festival in Jamaica. Shirley May is a Visiting Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University and has been published in several anthologies, including 'The Suitcase Book of Love Poems', 'Hair', 'The Food for Thought Anthology' as well as 'Evidently Anthology' (Volume 1 and Volume 2).
Her peers are Lemn Sissay, Kei Miller, Kate Tempest, Roger Robinson and Saul Williams. She has worked alongside great names in poetry by offering a platform for their work to be showcased at events such as Speakeasy and One Mic Stand. She's a motivational speaker and through her work inspires, challenges and gives tailored advice to groups and individuals around creating personal goals and ways to achieve them by signposting them to groups and organisation with training and development at their heart.