The Second City Poets collective is currently comprised of Sean Colletti, Anne Gill and Hannah Ledlie, but we regularly collaborate with other poets and artists. We take our name from the fact that each of us grew up in different places around the world, but we all found a second home in Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city.
It was in Birmingham where we discovered the extraordinary creative benefits of collaboration. Working with others opened up a level of depth, experimentation and accountability in our practice which would simply not have been possible as individuals.
We believe collaborative writing is severely undervalued and under-utilised in the UK writing scene, and it is part of our mission to change this. Going forward, we plan to continue setting a positive example through successful collaborations within our collective as well as making new connections with other poets in order to exchange and combine our expertise.
Between 2016 and 2019, each of our degrees at the University of Birmingham overlapped and we met at Writers’ Bloc, the writing society which Sean first founded during his undergraduate degree in 2009. In 2016, we then each successfully auditioned for Birmingham’s UniSlam team. UniSlam is the UK’s largest team poetry slam competition, where teams of up to five poets from universities across the UK and Ireland come together to participate in a 3-day programme of workshops and compete for the UniSlam trophy.
In 2017, we competed along with Kieran Hayes and Tian Sewell-Morgan to secure second place at the competition. In 2018, we competed with Mikey Barnes, Kimberley Knaggs and Hannah Swingler (coach), placing first. In 2019, Anne had graduated, Sean took on the role of non-competing coach and Hannah Ledlie competed along with Memory Bhunu, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Jonah Corren and Chloe Bettles to win the competition once again.
Following our UniSlam success in 2018, we formed Second City Poets along with Hannah Swingler. Together, we were commissioned to write a full-length spoken word show for the 2019 Verve Poetry Festival, and so Playground was created. Our performance at Verve won the Second City Poets a Special Mention in the Sabotage Awards ‘Best Collaborative Work’ category. Sadly, Hannah Swingler was unable to tour the show, so Kieran Hayes joined the collective; the four of us revised it before bringing the show to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2019.