Inua Ellams: Writer-in-Residence | Arvon

Inua Ellams Season

Staying curious in your writing

Inua Ellam: Arvon Writer-in-Residence 2024

Inua Ellams, the tour de force poet and playwright behind Barbershop Chronicles, The Half-God of Rainfall and Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars has become Arvon’s fifth Writer-in-Residence. Inua has has curated an accessible programme of online and in-person events that traverses the creative voraciousness of Inua himself. Running across all genres, Inua’s programme is proof that writers should always challenge themselves and never stop trying to grow.

Inua Ellams:

‘About 15 years ago I attended a week-long residential at Arvon, and what I learnt there completely transformed the way I thought, the way I thought about writing, and everything I have written since. As such, it is the greatest honour to be this year’s Writer-in-Residence for Arvon. I am a multidisciplinary writer, working across many forms, from poetry to essays, from screenplays to radio and theatre; I explore monologue, dialogue, and dramas with much larger casts.

As such, I have put together a series of events that reflect my interests and invited some of the finest practitioners of my art forms to share their skills and curiosities with you. The season begins with a 5-day poetry challenge: I’ll be issuing prompts, ideas and dares, to ignite new work for the new year. Next, there will be an Online Masterclass on Modern Adaptation for Theatre (using my version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters as a reference point); I will also be leading an online week on Poetry & Theatre alongside poet Rachel Long, with Caroline Bird as our VERY special guest. There will be a session on Starting out in Screenwriting with Lily Loveless, a celebrated actor and now writer for TV; and the magnificent Simon Mole will be teaching a recorded poetry workshop for children, completely free to access for teachers and families. The grand finale will be an event incorporating film and poetry, with poets sharing brand-new work with you, live. There will be a couple of other surprises on the way, but all my creativity – all the magic I hope to inspire – comes from the simplest of alchemy: knocking words together, as if flint stones, and watching, with kindling, with fires, what they become.’

Mary Morris, Artistic Director, Arvon: 

‘I’m so excited to be able to share Inua Ellams’s 2024 Writer-in-Residence programme with you. A prize-winning poet and playwright, a screenwriter, and a creative curator of live events, Inua’s own work crosses forms, genres and timezones, and ranges from the political to the exuberantly funny to the intimately human. The season he has put together will offer insights into how ideas, images and words can be translated between cultures and centuries and still feel relevant; it will inspire writers who are looking to make a leap from the page to the stage or the screen, or simply want to write dialogue that feels alive and authentic. There will be prompts to provoke and send your pen in a fresh direction, and live events showcasing brand-new work from contemporary poets. So whether you have just five minutes a day to spare or a full week to focus on your creativity this year, I hope you enjoy exploring the many riches on offer here.’

Photo of Inua Ellams

Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is writer and curator. He is a cross-disciplinary artist, an internationally touring performer, a poet, playwright, screenwriter, graphic artist & designer. His published books of poetry include Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales, The Wire-Headed Heathen, #Afterhours, and The Actual. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival. His plays include Barber Shop Chronicles, Three Sisters and The Half-God of Rainfall. He is currently touring Search Party, An Evening With An Immigrant and working on several commissions across stage and screen.