Tolu Agbelusi is a Nigerian British poet, playwright, educator and Lawyer who is based in London, UK. A 2016 Callaloo Fellow, her work was shortlisted for the 2018 White Review Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in anthologies and journals including Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry (Peepal Tree Press), Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The White Review, Brittle Paper, Shado and Wildness Journal. Her play Ilé La Wà debuted to a sold out audience in 2016 and toured the UK between 2018 – 2019.
She is the founder of Home Sessions a poetry development and community-building programme for young Black writers. Tolu also facilitates a range of live literature, creative writing and poetry programmes with schools, festivals, arts centres and other institutions. She also conceptualises and facilitates bespoke sessions in collaboration with academics at various university institutions where she uses poetic tools to generate discussions and translate academic information in a way that highlights its relevance for society in an easily digestible form.
Her poetry is about unperformed living, womanhood, the art of living and social justice. Her debut collection Locating Strongwoman, recently published by Jacaranda Books explores mother daughter relationships, love and lack of, agency, consent and what it means to be a strong girl or woman. Tolu writes to make sense of the world so whenever and if ever she is moved by something in the world, she writes without restriction.
Aside from writing and reading poetry, Tolu loves Brazilian Jui jitsu, travelling and making up sweet and savoury recipes. In fact, anything food finds its place on her hobby list as well as finding secret speak-easy bars with good cocktails. She also loves sleep when she can get it.
When it comes to poets, she loves those who match technique with high emotion. If it makes her feel nothing, it’s not for her. Some of the poets she revisits often include Lucille Clifton, vangile gantsho, Vievee Francis, Patricia Smith, Jacob Sam-La Rose and A.Van Jordan. As for non-poetry, Tayari Jones, Brooke Obie, Chimamanda Adichie are some favorites.
She is currently reading Deadly Sacrifice by Stella Oni and Little Kings by Peter Kahn.
Locating Strongwoman is available to buy here .