Kayo Chingonyi

Award-winning poet who was our first artist in residence

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015.

Counterpoints Arts first worked with Kayo for Platforma 2 in Manchester 2015, and subsequently commissioned workshops and performances including alongside hiphop artist Akala at RichMix for Refugee Week.

In 2016 Kayo was the first Counterpoints Arts artist in residence, which included a Creative/Critical Residency on Migration in partnership with the Humanities and Arts Research Centre, Royal Holloway.

Kayo’s first collection, Kumukanda, was published by Chatto & Windus in the following year.

Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived.

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, Kumukanda is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

Kumukanda has won many awards including the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award 2018*
It was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize and selected as a Book of the Year in the Guardian and Daily Telegraph