Pete Kalu

Pete Kalu



My mother settled here from Denmark , my father from Nigeria and I grew up exclusively in Manchester, but always with a sense of a wider world, of other languages, other ways of being, parallel and alternative lives. Ours was always a vibrant household, people coming and going, a sense of flux. Some of the local white population tolerated rather than embraced our presence and perhaps due to this, we made alliances as a family with other recent immigrants: the Irish, West Indians, Nigerians, a South African family, a family from Spain. As a young man I experienced first hand the 1980's uprising in Moss Side against police brutality and the state oppression, and it was at the same time I started writing as a member of Moss Side Write, a Manchester based black writing group. Much of my writing has been on the subject of the UK migrant experience.


Creative Work

Fire stokers, bridge builders, ball jugglers,

Weavers, tunnellers, atom chasers,

guitar thrashers, cyber geeks, sausage sizzlers,

peaceniks, heretics, rebels, refugees,

carnivalists, miserablists,

swindlers, poisoners, punks, poets,

centurions, slave barons,

Divas, Destroyers,

Rocket scientists, revolutionaries

all live/d here.



Manchester has been for me a place of great, positive political and creative energy, full of humour and love. Like the rest of the UK it is still wrestling with its imperial past, and the artists and young people of Manchester are way ahead of its institutions in that respect. The poem Manchester is a list poem that attempts to capture Manchester 's cultural and creative diversity, while also setting down its engagement with the slave trade, and other more shameful aspects of its history. The poem would probably work better on the Internet, where for each word there could be an html link to another file which would unpack the history of that particular element of the poem. To give one example: Miserablists is a reference to the music of Morrissey and The Smiths - I grew up close to the cemetery where Morrissey apparently liked to wander - but it is also a reference to the UK's post Empire melancholia that fuels some of its contemporary racism.

I don't like to over-explain the poem however, it works far better when left to the reader's, the browser's or the audience's speculation.



Little Jack Horner, Suitcase Press 2007
Yard Dogs The X Press, 2002
Diary of a Househusband, The X Press 1998
Black Star Rising, The X Press June 1998
Professor X, The X Press October 1995.
Lick Shot, The X Press December 1993.

Theatre plays
The Bay (duologue) Contact Theatre, Manchester 2006
Pants (comedy) Contact Theatre, Manchester, 2003
Gabrielle (monologue, with Shirley May) Pumphouse Museum 2002
Downfall, Manchester University Theatre, Manchester 1995.
Taxi, Manchester Town Hall 1994.

Radio plays
Xango's Challenge, BBC Radio 3, August 12th 1995
Afrogoth, launched BBC Radio 4's Young Playwrights Festival 1991

No Trace, (short film) Migrant Media 2007

Mongrel Moon, Mongrel Press, November 1996

Contact & Links

Writer Index