Staff, Trustees & Patrons
Jonathan Davidson – Chief Executive
Jonathan Davidson has worked for over twenty-five years in arts management and literature development. He is joint-founder and Associate Director of the Birmingham Literature Festival, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and Director of Midland Creative Projects Limited. He produces theatre-poetry performances, most recently The Hundred Years’ War with The Belgrade Theatre and Bloodaxe Books. His radio plays are regularly broadcast on BBC Radios 3 and 4. His stage adaptation of Mary Webb’s novel, Precious Bane, toured with Interplay Theatre. His second collection of poetry, Early Train, was published by Smith | Doorstop in 2011 and his most recent pamphlet was Humfrey Coningsby: Poems, Complaints, Explanations and Demands for Satisfaction (Valley Press, 2015). His most recent publication is a poetry memoir On Poetry (Smith/Doorstop, 2018.) He is Chair of National Association of Writers in Education. He has two grown-up children and lives in Birmingham.
Emma Boniwell – Learning & Participation Manager
Emma has worked in arts administration since graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music in 1998 with a degree in music. Following a circuitous route, she worked at the Society of Authors for over ten years where, amongst other roles, she was Membership Secretary for seven years. Following a house move and now working part-time, she lives in Solihull with her husband and two energetic small children. Occasionally she is allowed to play the piano.
Olivia Chapman – PR & Communications Manager
Olivia previously worked at New Writing North, based in Newcastle, as Communications Manager for seven years. Prior to that, Olivia worked at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency and Puffin Children’s Books. She is from London, where she did a BSc in International Relations at LSE before moving to North East England to do post-graduate studies in marketing and PR. Olivia was part of the 2015 AMEX Leadership Academy.
Shantel Edwards – Creative Producer / Festival Director
Shantel has worked within the arts in higher education since 2013. In 2019, she completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, focusing on contemporary black and Asian British writing and the publishing industry. She is an avid reader, native of Birmingham and passionate Birmingham Literature Festival attendee.
Heddwen Creaney – Operations Assistant
Heddwen graduated from Bangor University with a Masters in English Literature and Creative Writing. Prior to joining the team at Writing West Midlands, she was a Medical Administrator. While at university, Heddwen was President of the Literature Society and worked as an editor and secretary for the student paper. She has also been a facilitator and mentor for young people.
Peggy Long – Finance Manager
Peggy works with us as a freelance bookkeeper. She supplies accounting, VAT, credit control and payroll services to a wide variety of clients from a cross section of business sectors of all sizes. Her clients range from ‘one-man-bands’ to corporate enterprises with an extensive selection of business sectors including charities, retail, consultancy and the arts. She looks after the accounts of a number of literary organisations and has recently become the treasurer for West Midlands Readers’ Network.
Board of Trustees:
Olwen Brown (Chair)
More information coming soon.
Gregory Leadbetter’s poetry collections include The Fetch (Nine Arches Press, 2016) and The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007). He is a regular contributor to The Poetry Review, and his poems have also appeared in Poetry London, The North, Magma, The Rialto, on BBC Radio 4, and in CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets (Smith/Doorstop, 2014), as well as other journals and anthologies. His book of literary criticism, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) won the University English (formerly CCUE) Book Prize 2012, and he has published essays on Wordsworth, Keats, Charles Lamb, and Ted Hughes. He wrote for the BBC radio drama Silver Street, and was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013. He is Reader in Literature and Creative Writing at Birmingham City University.
Femi Oyebode was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He graduated with distinction in medicine from University of Ibadan in 1977. He later trained in psychiatry in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and has been consultant psychiatrist in Birmingham since 1986. He is also Professor of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham. His research interests include psychopathology, medical humanities, and the neurological basis of psychiatric phenomena. His book Sims’ Symptoms in the Mind-textbook of descriptive psychopathology (4th and 5th editions) is the leading English language on the subject and has been translated into several European languages. He is also author of Mindreadings- literature and psychiatry and Madness at the Theatre. He received the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. He is a published poet.
Nikki is currently Programme Lead at Impact Hub Birmingham (soon to be The Civic Square) where she curates a regular programme of book events, film nights and festivals. Prior to this, Nikki worked in reader development for Birmingham Libraries with the remit of broadening the reader experience across the library network. She also managed the Birmingham Poet Laureate scheme and Birmingham Fringe Festival. Nikki was the inaugural recipient of the national PPC Librarian of the Year Award, an award established within the publishing industry recognising the work that libraries do with readers. More recently, she was also the inaugural Reader in Residence at Birmingham Literature Festival 2018. Nikki has a keen interest in all things representation, gender equality and community, you can follow her on twitter via @ThatNikkiBi
Carol Phillips is Principal at Erdington Hall Primary School. She has previously worked for Sandwell Borough Council as an EMA Consultant and has been on the Board of Trustees since 2013.
Hannah Clifford is a Senior Associate Solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell LLP specialising in employment law; with a particular focus on providing commercial and pragmatic advice to employers. Hannah has a degree in English Literature obtained from Sheffield University and is, like all the best people, an unabashed bibliophile.
Helen Cross is a writer of novels, stories and screenplays. She is based in Birmingham.
More information coming soon
George Bastow is a freelance writer, journalist and blogger at Books, Films and Random Lunacy. He was a speaker at the National Writers’ Conference 2019 and a guest at The Tamworth Literary Festival’s GeekFest in 2017. George is a full-time wheelchair user and regularly writes pieces on disability and health for wellbeingforwriters.com. He is currently the Assistant Writer at the Tamworth Spark Young Writers Group.
Liz Berry is a poet from the Black Country who now lives in Birmingham. Liz’s debut poetry collection, Black Country, received the Forward Prize for Best First Collection Winner 2014, Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award. Liz’s second collection is The Republic of Motherhood, for which Liz won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018 for the title poem. Liz also works as a tutor for organisations such as the Arvon Foundation and Writing West Midlands.
Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, author, columnist and journalist. He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 6Music and has written and presents dozens of other shows on BBC Radio. His books include The Pie at Night, The People’s Songs, Hope and Glory, Adventures on the High Teas, Pies and Prejudice and Cider with Roadies. www.stuartmaconie.com.
Sathnam Sanghera is a journalist and author from Wolverhampton, whose memoir The Boy with the Topknot is based on his familial history and Sikh upbringing, was named the Mind Book of the Year in 2009. The Boy with the Topknot was also shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award and the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and was later adapted for TV and broadcast on BBC2 in November 2017. Now based in London, Sathnam continues to write and has released titles such as If You Don’t Know Me By Now and Marriage Material. Alongside this, Sathnam has been a judge for The Wellcome Book Prize and The Costa Book Awards, a former trustee for mental health charity Rethink, the chair of media charity Creative Access and a guest curator of the Birmingham Literature Festival.
Kit de Waal, a Birmingham-born writer of Irish and Caribbean descent, is an award-winning writer and former magistrate. Her book, My Name is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in 2016 and was awarded the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 as well as being shortlisted for several other prizes. Kit released two more books with Penguin, Six Foot Six and The Trick to Time, and also established the Kit de Waal Scholarship to improve working-class representation in the arts by funding a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, University of London.