Patience Agbabi
BirthplaceLondon, England, UK
OccupationWriter and poet

Patience Agbabi (born 1965) is a British poet and performer with a particular emphasis on the spoken word.[1] Although her poetry is hard-hitting in addressing contemporary themes, her work often makes use of strong formal constraints, including traditional poetic forms. She has described herself as 'bi-cultural' and bisexual,[2] and issues of racial, sexual, and gender identity are important in her poetry.

Early life

Agbabi was born in London and as a teenager lived in North Wales. Her parents were Nigerians. She studied English Language and Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford.

Agbabi began performing on the London club circuit in 1995. She has cited her influences as including Janis Joplin, Carol Ann Duffy, Chaucer, and various aspects of contemporary music and culture.

Poetry and performances

Her latest book Telling Tales was published by Canongate in 2014. It revisits Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and mines the Middle-English masterwork to offer a 21st-century take on the characters, as well as the book's poetry and performance elements. She is also the author of poetry collections Bloodshot Monochrome, Transformatrix and R.A.W.

Agbabi's first collection of poetry, R.A.W, was published in 1995 and received the Excelle Literary Award in 1997.

She has performed extensively and also worked in collaboration with other writers. Her work has also been influenced by rap rhythms and wordplay. She was a member of Atomic Lip, which has been described as "poetry's first pop group". They worked together from 1995 to 1998 and their last tour, Quadrophonix, in 1998 merged live and video performance. In 1996 she worked on a performance piece called FO(U)R WOMEN, with Adeola Agbebiyi and Dorothea Smartt, first performed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

As well as performing in Britain she has also undertaken reading tours of Namibia, the Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Germany and Switzerland, working with the British Council. She took part in Modern Love, a spoken-word tour produced by renaissance one that explored love and modern relationships, which toured the UK and Switzerland.

Her poetry has been featured on television and radio, including the Channel 4 series Litpop in 1998 and on the children's programme Blue Peter in 1999. In 2000, she was one of ten poets commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to write a poem for National Poetry Day. In 2004, she was named as one of the Next Generation poets.

Her book, Transformatrix (2000) is a commentary on contemporary Britain which draws inspiration from popular music forms.

Agbabi is a former Poet Laureate of Canterbury. She has taught and run workshops and also been poet in residence at various places ranging from Oxford Brookes University to a London tattoo and piercing studio. She has an MA in Creative Writing, the Arts and Education from the University of Sussex and in September, 2002 was appointed Associate Creative Writing Lecturer at the University of Wales, Cardiff.


  1. Patience Agbabi
  2. Young, Victoria (March 5, 2005), “Giving the Boys at Eton Poetry to Think About”, New York Times, <>. Retrieved on 1 April 2008 
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