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New film on poet Patience Agbabi’s The Canterbury Copy and Grants for the arts

  • Date: 25 April 2013
  • Area: National, South East
Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi. Credit: Photo courtesy of Patience Agbabi

Kent poet Patience Agbabi is the subject of a new film that explores her new Chaucer-influenced book of poetry The Canterbury Copy and how Arts Council England's Grants for the arts helped make this happen.

In 2010, Patience received £9,000 from Grants for the arts to support her project to remake Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Copy tells the story of 24 people on a Routemaster bus from London to Canterbury who entertain each other with poetry. While in the 14th century tale, Chaucer's pilgrims competed for the best tale, Agbabi's perform in a poetry slam. The collection will be published next year.

The film was made by Transition Films and the soundtrack was produced by Brighton hip hop rapper and musician Jon Clark. The film also features poety and writer Sarah Salway as the guest interviewer.

Grants for the arts is an open access scheme and awards National Lottery money to thousands of arts projects nationally each year. It offers awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to support the creation and presentation of great art, from dance to sculpture, poetry readings to melas. The scheme supports artists and arts organisations to produce more innovative work, enables projects that bring our communities together and enriches lives, and stimulates the creative economy in our cities and towns.

Arts Council England wants to see more applications made to the scheme by people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds to support projects that reflect this rich diversity. As outlined in our Creative Case for Diversity, we know that greater diversity and equality sustains and releases the true potential of England's artistic talent regardless of people's background.

Grants for the arts - Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi is a poet, performer and workshop facilitator. She was born in London in 1965 to Nigerian parents and spent her teenage years living in North Wales. She was educated at Oxford University and in 2002 received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex.

R.A.W., her groundbreaking debut collection of poetry, was published in 1995, and won the 1997 Excelle Literary Award. In 2004 she was named as one of the Poetry Society's 'Next Generation' poets. In 2008 she released a third collection, Bloodshot Monochrome (Payback Press). Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women's Poetry (The Women's Press), The Virago Book of Wicked Verse, and IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain.

Patience Agbabi has performed at the ICA, the Edinburgh Book Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Glastonbury Festival and Soho Jazz Festival, and has worked extensively for The British Council in countries including Namibia, 1999; the Czech Republic, 2000; Zimbabwe and Germany, 2001; and Switzerland, 2002. Her work has also appeared on television and radio.  She has been poet-in-residence at Oxford Brookes University and at Eton College.

Patience Agbabi lives in Gravesend, Kent.

For more information about Grants for the arts and how to apply, visit