Reece Williams

Reece Williams is a towering presence on the northern spoken word and poetry scene. He joined poetry collective Young Identity in 2007, performing across the UK and internationally with the likes of Saul Williams, Kae Tempest, The Last Poets and the late Amiri Baraka. His current poetry collection, This Kind of Black, was enabled by ACE funding, and residencies with Apples and Snakes. He recently completed a successful ACE DYCP programme.

Reece is currently Community Engagement Manager for Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, and is the regular compere of legendary spoken word event One Mic Stand. A former trustee of Manchester’s renowned Contact Theatre, Reece is passionate about youth engagement, cultural policy and race relations. He embeds peer mentoring and advocacy of active citizenship through the arts into his professional practice. He was a longstanding Peer Mentor on The Agency, a UK-wide project delivered by Contact and Battersea Arts Centre to empower young people from economically deprived communities to create projects that foster social change.

Over the last year Reece has been developing This Kind of Black as a concept for a theatre show. Reece is lead artist, writer and performer on the project. Inspired by the workshops delivered through the Poetry in Performance programme, Reece has developed a full-length script from poems he had written for his upcoming debut poetry collection (This Kind of Black). Working with the highly experienced dramaturg and producer Matt Fenton, former Artistic Director of Contact Theatre, Reece has been workshopping the script and exploring how he can utilise the new skills gained from the Poetry in Performance workshops.

Alongside this, Reece has been working on high-profile commissions from the Guardian and Penguin. The Guardian commissioned him to write about Len Johnson, a famous Manchester-born boxer and race activist. The poem was published as part of their Cotton Capital series. Penguin commissioned Reece to write about Walter Tull, one of the first professional footballers of colour. The anthology was published in July 2023.

In 2023, Reece was selected for the Jerwood New Work Fund, which will enable him complete the project to a high professional, tour-ready standard, and to reach new audiences outside of the venues already confirmed (HOME, Chester Storyhouse).

When asked what he was looking forward to about his Jerwood New Work Fund project, Reece said,

I am excited to present poetry to non-poetry audiences in a way that brings to life words and stories that may be familiar to them. I’m looking forward to shaping and presenting a piece which pushes the boundaries of spoken word and incorporates theatrical devices to aid the narrative. I can’t wait to take the story of Moss Side as far as I possibly can.

Image by Audrey Albert