Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993. He holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Sheffield and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and works as a writer, events producer, and creative writing tutor.
His poems have been published in a range of magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Magma, Wasafiri, The Best British Poetry 2011 and 2013 (Salt Publishing, 2011 and 2013), The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt Publishing, 2011), Out Of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), The World Record (Bloodaxe, 2012), and in a debut pamphlet entitled Some Bright Elegance (Salt Publishing, 2012).
Kayo has also been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally. In 2012 he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by The Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival. He was recently awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
Kayo teaches in the Writing School at Kingston University and in the Drama, Dance, and Speech Department at City Lit. As a creative writing tutor Kayo has devised and delivered workshops for The National Theatre, London School of Economics, Royal Shakespeare Company, YMCA, Poetry Society, English Pen, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre, Pop Up CIC and Apples and Snakes as well countless universities, schools, youth centres and writer’s groups across the UK and internationally. As well as poetry, Kayo leads workshops in collaborative practice, theatre, life writing, fiction, song writing and performance.
As an events producer Kayo has curated events for Hackney Council, The Freeword Centre, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Africa Centre, and Comic Relief. As an undergraduate he was co-founder of Word Life, a succesful literary and music event series based in South Yorkshire. In 2013 he co-founded The Blend a monthly arts night featuring the best in comedy, poetry, and music.
‘His language is wonderfully searching, his imagery a series of small doors opening onto a whole house echoing with harmonic play and set with delicate rhythmic trip wires.’ – Jane Draycott (Judge’s Commentary – Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2012)
‘Chingonyi is always compelling’ – Sheffield Forge
‘The poems published here demonstrate Chingonyi’s craft and his attention to the formal aspects of poetry on the page as well as to the spoken word’ – Sarah Ream, Poetry International Web
‘Kayo weighs each vowel and syllable as if it’s a thing of beauty, which it is, even when the words themselves are breaking your heart’ – Apples and Snakes
‘The highlight of the evening was the set by Kayo Chingonyi [...]. Combining lyrical prowess and rhythm, his poetry is tinged with his experience of MCing. Kayo gave a performance which captivated the spectators and left them in awe’ – Sheffield Steel Press