Jem Henderson photo

Announcing our 2024 Leeds Writer In Residence

28 March 2024

Jem Henderson will be our 2024 Leeds Writer In Residence. Jem is a genderqueer poet from Leeds, and a 2021 Creative Future Writers’ Award winner. Their work focuses on the body, motherhood, food, queerness and on triumph over trauma, playing with both traditional forms and experimental poetry. an othered mother, their first pamphlet, is out with Nine Pens Press. Their first collaborative project Genderfux came out in 2022 with Nine Pens Press, and a new collaborative collection with Chris Campbell, small plates, is out now with Broken Sleep Books.

Jem’s focus will be on developing the themes in small plates: contrasting homelessness, trauma and food poverty with fine dining; interrogating how food intersects with class and the traumas often experienced by people of working class backgrounds; and food as an exploration of place.

My body of work to date has drawn upon my own experiences in queerness, place, homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity. While this has proven to be a rich seam, what I want to say doesn’t stop at the edges of my own experiences and my development as a writer needs to start to think about fictional voices–how do we say what we want to say without just relying on our own character in our work as poets?

Inspired by books such as Alice Oswald’s Dart and Joele Taylor’s Cunto, who use both found and imagined voices to create breathtaking poetry, I want to meet with others who have experienced food poverty, trauma, and have found food to be an escape from the cycles of loneliness and desperation so many people are currently experiencing.  I want to support them to write their own stories. To explore and connect with themselves, and their experiences, through thinking about how breaking bread with others and cooking for yourself helps facilitate healing and hope.

Jem’s residency will take place at Shine, a social enterprise community, support and co-working space in in the Harehills area of Leeds. Shine’s mission is to raise aspirations and create opportunities for disadvantaged communities, in particular support for non-violent women ex-offenders, local children,  entrepreneurs, and the environment. Jem will write and interact with people in a dedicated atrium room on:

  • Monday 15th April
  • Tuesday 16th April
  • Monday 29th April
  • Wednesday 15th May
  • Wednesday 29th May

They will also be holding two workshops on the poetry of food at Shine for local underrepresented writers who face socioeconomic barriers, as well as four online sessions to widen access nationally.


About the 2024 Writers In Residence

Our Writer In Residence programme supports emerging/mid-career underrepresented writers to engage with new audiences, new writers and underrepresented people in non-traditional spaces and in new ways. From 2023, we have begun a new programme: bringing the residence to the writer, allowing them to explore their creative interests in their hometowns, communities and unique places. They also have full rein to decide the theme of their residency, what they will explore and how. Each writer has dedicated time to write, residencies in unusual/non-traditional spaces to interact with people and gain inspiration, and lead writing workshops for local people.

The residency is part of the 2024 Creative Future Writers’ Award programme. Jem will also write a reflective blog and a new piece for the award anthology inspired by their residency.

The residency is made possible with the generous support of Arts Council England, the Garrick Charitable Trust and Amazon Literary Partnership.

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