Shirley May is the co-founder of Young Identity (YI), a spoken word collective formed in Manchester, 2006 by herself and actor/performer
Ali Gadema. YI delivers dynamic poetry and spoken word workshops in art venues such as Contact and HOME Theatre as well as local wards. The group meet regularly in these locations to work with eager writers aged 13-25 years old.
The original members of Young Identity, known as 'Inna Voice', also work alongside YI to manage One Mic Stand, affectionately known as 'OMS', a popular poetry showcase and slam night which takes place quarterly in Manchester. Young Identity is dedicated to giving young people opportunities to perform and perfect their written work. They have recently launched 'Hatch' a new 2-year program that develops the talents of up-and-coming poets to become professional artists in the industry.
Young Identity have worked with artists such as Lemn Sissay, international spoken word icon Saul Williams, dub poetry legend Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ted Hughes Prize Winner Kate Tempest and the late Amiri Baraka. The work of Young Identity has also featured all over the country at Manchester International Festival, Hay Festival, BBC's Contains Strong Language, BBC Radio 5Live, Brighter Sounds, BoxedIn as well as internationally: Youth Poetry Slam and the Schaubuhne in Germany to America’s Nuyorican Poetry Café.
They work in partnership with Contact, HOME and Manchester Library Services.