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Created as part of British Council’s India/UK Together Season of Culture 2022, Language is a Queer Thing is an international poetry and artist development programme engaging LGBTQIA+ poets, poetry professionals and communities in India and the UK. 


A partnership between The Queer Muslim Project (India) and the VERVE Poetry Festival (UK), the project brought together 6 emerging LGBTQIA+ poets from India and the UK in 2022 to collaborate, create new work and share it with audiences in both the countries. The project reached over 1 million listeners via BBC radio programmes, and in-person audiences at mainstream literary festivals - BBC Contains Strong Language in Birmingham and Tata Literature Live in Mumbai.


In 2023, the project returns for a second run with 6 talented queer poets from India and the UK, and an in-person residency, culminating with a festival showcase at BBC Contains Strong Language in Leeds, between 21-24 September. Poets will have opportunities to perform live and on radio, hold panel discussions and meet with communities to create legacy work.

Applications close on 11 June 2023

Applicants must meet the following criteria:


  • Be an emerging queer poet in India or the UK with a story to tell, aged 18+

  • Belong to groups underrepresented in the arts sector 

  • Have prior writing experience and a keen interest in the spoken word

  • Can commit to online workshops on weekends between July and August and a weeklong on-site residency in Leeds from 20-27 September 2023 

  • Must produce at least 3 original pieces of writing as part of the programme 

What will the programme entail?


  • Virtual workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions with industry experts

  • An all expenses covered on-site residency in the UK in September

  • An opportunity to perform at BBC Contains Strong Language 2023 in Leeds

  • Commission fee of 750 GBP for each selected artist

  • A powerful cohort to write and grow alongside

  • Networking and community engagement opportunities in the UK



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