Roger is promising plenty of poems at performance

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​‘Poetry provides a lens to see things differently’, says renowned writer Roger Robinson ahead of his performance in Sheffield next week.

​The T.S Eliot Prize-winning poet is a headliner at this year’s Migration Matters Festival, a celebration of diversity which will bring 70 events to city venues from tomorrow (Friday, June 14 to June 22) Roger will take the audience through his collective works - and the stories of how they came to be - in a memorable night exploring home and belonging.

He said: “There’ll be poems, poems and more poems. “Emotional poems, poems about life. Poems about moving to countries and leaving countries. Poems about the coast. “I’ll be telling stories in between of how they came to be and a little of my own story of migration. “I think poetry is incredible in that it provides a lens to see things differently, to feel them differently. “If you want to see things in a new way, come along.”

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Born in Britain to a Trinidadian family, Roger spent his formative years in the Caribbean nation before returning to London to study like his parents had.

Roger RobinsonRoger Robinson
Roger Robinson

In time, he became fascinated by the culture here and ‘exploring what Englishness is.’ He never went back to Trinidad. But he became a spoken word performer, musician and award-winning poet who has now performed worldwide.

In 2019 Roger became only the second writer of Caribbean heritage to win the noted T.S Eliot Prize with his collection A Portable Paradise.

“It’s something to do with pies”, he joked, when asked what the quality of Englishness is. “A huge part of it is how people in England are still demarcated by really strong lines of class. Working-class people and upper-class people might as well be worlds apart.”

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An Evening With Roger Robinson and Friends, on Thursday, June 20 at The Leadmill, will also include supporting performances and DJ sets.

Ten in the Bed. LEAD IMAGE. Photo by Stephen Beeny - Stephen BeenyTen in the Bed. LEAD IMAGE. Photo by Stephen Beeny - Stephen Beeny
Ten in the Bed. LEAD IMAGE. Photo by Stephen Beeny - Stephen Beeny

It is part of an electric lineup for the festival, now in its ninth year and the biggest Refugee Week event of its kind.

Other headliners include Mali musicians, the husband and wife team Amadou & Mariam, in their only English tour date, on Monday, June 17.

The festival’s launch party tomorrow includes reggae legends The Cimarons, and over this weekend alone there are 24 events to see.

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Many are for families as part of the Mini Mig Mat strand, aimed at introducing a new generation to conversations on migration.

The CimaronsThe Cimarons
The Cimarons

They include the national debut of Ten in the Bed, a playful theatre production celebrating the power of imaginary play. And Our Childhood, Our Games will focus on Cantonese nursery rhymes and games.

Roger added: “I like how the festival juxtapositioned different types of artists who have a similar thread through them.

“When I saw the lineup included Amadou & Mariam and Sirens of Lesbos from Switzerland I was like ‘Woah, this is a crazy mix.’ Diversity always makes things better.”

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The festival also includes events spanning art, heritage, community, comedy, cabaret, walks and food.

All tickets can be booked, with prices available on a sliding scale, at

migrationmattersfestival.co.uk.