New Inua Ellams collection to be published in autumn 2020

Blog | Published on January 28, 2020

Independent publisher Penned in the Margins has acquired The Actual, a new poetry collection of ‘personal and political fury’ by Inua Ellams.

Ellams skilfully brings together classical myth, vernacular dialect, flashes of dark humour, and precise rhythm to powerful effect. Each poem centres on a critique; sometimes bursting with anger, sometimes probing more delicately. The poems tackle a range of issues from musical hierarchies and weak hugs, to border politics and climate catastrophe. In ‘Fuck #45’ an instance of racial abuse teaches its subject that ‘words can slip through / can still break you’.


Born in Nigeria, Ellams is a UK-based poet, playwright and performer who has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and the BBC. His latest play, an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters set in Nigeria, is on at the National Theatre until 19 February. The Actual will be Ellams’ fifth poetry release, and first full collection, after Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales (flipped eye, 2005), Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars (flipped eye, 2011), The Wire-Headed Heathen (Akashic Books, 2016) and The Half God of Rainfall (Fourth Estate, 2019).


Ellams said, “The collection came out accidentally, the poems poured out quickly and fiercely, between writing screen and stage plays, all written on my phone, in transit, between meetings, before I’d fall asleep and as soon as I’d wake up. The topics and range of the poems are vast and reflect much of our fast-paced and increasingly polarised world. I am as excited to share them, as I am nervous of their reception.”


Tom Chivers, Director of Penned in the Margins, said, “I was over the moon to receive Inua’s new collection; these are poems of personal and political fury that communicate with utter assuredness, yet through their lyric complexity, capture that quavering, uncertain sensation of being in the world right now. They speak to history and to the present, and leave you in no doubt that they are the work one of the most exciting poets writing today. From a personal perspective, I am so happy to be welcoming Inua back to Penned in the Margins, almost fifteen years after we first collaborated on a project called Generation Txt – our first anthology and touring production.”


UK & Commonwealth rights were acquired from Miriam Tobin at Rogers, Coleridge & White.

Author portrait by Andy Lo Pò

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