Shaniqua Benjamin, credit Chetna Kapacee

5 Black poets you should know about in SW London and Surrey

5 Black poets you should know about in SW London and Surrey 

Amber-Louise Large reveals the local bards that are making their voices heard

“The Earth has music for those who listen,” says Shakespeare – or so rumours claim. But whether the bard said it or not, it’s true, and there are a number of poets in south west London and Surrey who know it.

In the last week of Black History Month UK, we spoke to five local Black poets about their work, inspiration, and what they think poetry can do for present times as well as the future.

Meet the modern bards!

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua is 28 and Croydon’s Poet Laureate.  She’s a Spoken Word Poet and Creative Workshop Facilitator and she describes herself as a ‘Croydon girl, born and raised in Thornton Heath’.

She writes about American sports, mental health, matters of the heart and social issues such as injustice, youth violence and culture. She’s been writing her whole life but turned to poetry in 2015 when creating a short film to launch her youth organisation Young People Insight.

Shaniqua believes “poetry is for EVERYONE.

“It provides everyone with the opportunity to make their voice heard in a beautiful, powerful way, speaking out on what is important to them or on what is happening in the world.

“Just like with any art form, poetry brings change and brings people together.  Poetry is needed more than ever and poetic voices are needed more than ever.”

You can check out Shaniqua’s work on Instagram @shaniquabenjamin_, Twitter @ShanqMarie or her blog (

Pictured top, photo by Chetna Kapacee


Ragz-CV is a 32-year-old spoken word poet from Brixton. His album ‘Soul Lyrical’ was released last year and he is the founder of Brixton-based charity Poetic Unity.

He writes about everyday life events he or others experience and explores subjects he usually wouldn’t speak about.

He started writing lyrics at 16 but found Spoken Word at 26.

Ragz-CV says poetry gave him a voice and Poetic Unity helps his purpose of bringing light into a dark world.

“Poetry is everything. I can tell you now that modern day poetry is here to stay. Spoken Word is so powerful it can help mental health, education, bring communities together and give a voice to the voiceless.”

You can check out Ragz-CV’s work on his website and on social media under the handle @RagzCV.

Find on twitter @Poetic_Unity and Instagram @PoeticUnity.

Rick Dove

Rick is a 43-year-old Poet and Event Organiser. He was born and raised in Tooting, where he currently lives after he spent some years away.

He touches on classic subjects like love and loss, nature and perception, mental health and justice, human frailty and strength. Recently he has increasingly written about politics, climate change, and social justice: “It is 2020, have you seen the news?”

Rick started writing poetry as a teenager encouraged by his Tooting teachers. He came back to writing in his thirties when he began commuting in London and travelling gave him time to reflect.

Revisiting poetry has given him a way to process complex and challenging life events as well as provided him with a second career and some good friends.

“I write in order to connect people with ideas, with stories, with other people, with me, and with themselves.

“I have no fear that poetry will continue to evolve and keep pace with us, because it is so much about the desire to connect within and without, and we will always need those connections.”

Rick published his first full collection Tales From the Other Box earlier this year. You can also watch some of his past performance on Muddy Feet Poetry’s YouTube channel.

David Kwaw Mensah

David is a 39-year-old photographer from Chelsea. He also writes about nature, spirituality and culture. David was inspired by a teacher and started writing poetry at the age of 16. He says writing poetry gave him the ability to externalise and process his emotions.As a photographer, David believes poetry has given him a particular lens through which he can observe the world. This lens is a little romantic and a little melancholy.

He sees poetry everywhere: “I think poetry is infinitely changeable and adapts to the times. Rappers are poets, Drill artists are poets. We just don’t refer to them as such, but I think it’s about time we did.”

You can find David’s work on his Instagram @davidkwawmensh as a series of commentaries. He also shares poetry on his blog:

Chloe Carterr with 2 R’s

Chloe is 21 and a Creative Entrepreneur. She’s a Fine art painter, YouTuber and Spoken Word artist. She often performs in south west London and calls it her creative home.

In her poetry she explores themes such as self love, relationships, empowerment, identity, mental health and vulnerability.

She started writing in 2018 and performing in 2019, and she has headlined multiple Spoken Word shows since.

Chloe says poetry allows her to use the power of vulnerability and notes its adaptability.

“Poetry has transformed a lot! There is an underground world of poets who are such creative writers and performers! Young and older people!

“A poet is the equivalent to a literary superhero! They tell stories and save people with words!”

You can find Chloe’s work on her Youtube Channel Chloe Carterr with 2 Rs and on her instagram and Twitter @Chloe_Carterr.