Poet Belinda Zhawi to perform new site-specific work on the banks of the rivers Thames and Exe

Blog | Published on June 27, 2022

In September 2022 the poet, musician and sound artist Belinda Zhawi will present In Transit – a new site-specific performance exploring themes of colonialism, migration, industry and the environment.

In Transit will share stories and reflections from the Thames and the Exe: two great rivers bound together by a shared history of trade. This mesmerising spoken word performance by Zimbabwean-born Zhawi will trace the movement of tides, and the movement of people, animals and goods, and will be performed in historic riverside venues in London and Exeter.


Photograph by Sylvia Suli


In Transit has been commissioned by Literature Works as part of their Quay Words programme at Exeter Custom House, and will premiere on 17 September in the Transit Shed – an historic, open-sided structure which was once used to store cargo unloaded from ships docked at Exeter Quay. Zhawi’s research process will lead her to explore the waterways of Exeter on foot and in conversation with local partners and river users.


The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe will host the London performance of In Transit in their 50-feet deep Grand Entrance Hall – the former entrance to the Thames Tunnel, which opened in 1843. Zhawi will conduct several site visits to the Thames foreshore in partnership with Thames Discovery Programme. As part of this partnership, Zhawi will work with students from a local secondary school, St Michael’s Catholic College in Bermondsey, to encourage creativity and engagement with the river Thames.


In Transit is produced by pioneering literary arts company Penned in the Margins, and is their first new performance work since 2019.


Performance dates

Saturday 17 September 2022

The Transit Shed, Exeter Custom House, 46 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AN

Free – booking advised
Book now


Thursday 22 September 2022

The Brunel Museum, London, Railway Avenue, London, SE16 4LF

£7.50 (£5 concessions)
Book now




Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator who lives and works in London. Her work explores Afro-diasporic research and narratives; how art and education can be used as intersectional tools. She has performed across the UK in numerous venues, festivals and events including at Africa Writes, Bestival and TATE, with her work published in the anthologies Liminal Animals and Casagrande: Rain of Poems. In 2013, Zhawi featured on Channel 4’s Random Acts. She was the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet & is co-founder of literary arts platform BORN::FREE. Belinda Zhawi is the author of Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018).

Literature Works is the literature development charity for south west England. Literature Works programmes and delivers Quay Words on behalf of Exeter Canal and Quay Trust. This live literature programme is supported by a grant from Arts Council England National Lottery Project funding and the ongoing investment of Exeter Canal and Quay Trust. Quay Words showcases literature as a diverse art form and is a core project of Exeter as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Penned in the Margins is a dynamic, artist-led literature organisation producing groundbreaking new work in performance, online and on the page. Their publishing list includes popular and award-winning poets Raymond Antrobus, Luke Kennard, Gail McConnell, Rebecca Tamás, Luke Wright, Inua Ellams and John McCullough. Their pioneering performance programme has introduced new works for the stage by sound poets Caroline Bergvall and Hannah Silva, spoken word artists Antosh Wojcik and Ross Sutherland, and playwright Siddhartha Bose. Their productions have reached audiences across the UK and internationally in both traditional arts venues & unconventional spaces – from London’s Victorian cemeteries and an RSPB nature reserve in Teesside to the top of the Malvern Hills.

Thames Discovery Programme aims to communicate an understanding and informed enjoyment of the historic Thames to the widest possible audience. This ambitious project was launched with generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008, and has been hosted at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) since November 2011. Other partners include the Museum of London, Historic England and the UCL Institute of Archaeology. The Thames Discovery Programme has been awarded £250,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support River Recoveries, a two-year project to revitalise the TDP, and shape it to succeed long into the future. The project is also generously supported by funding from Historic England, the City of London Archaeological Trust and the Port of London Authority. Commencing in July 2021, the project aims to support London’s communities in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, by encouraging participation in foreshore activities and volunteering.

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