Poet, artist and performer-activist, SuAndi has received an honorary Doctor of Arts (Dart) at Manchester Metropolitan University for her significant contribution to arts and culture.
Born in Hulme, SuAndi started her professional life as a writer for Cultureword in1985. She simultaneously joined BlackScribe – Manchester’s first black women’s poetry collective.
Through her work, key themes emerge – speaking for the unheard; celebrating the unseen; questioning the accepted histories. Of particular focus are lives of women and the experiences of Black Britain.
In one of SuAndi’s most famous works The Story of M, she celebrates the life of her mother, a Liverpudlian of Irish descent, who marries a Nigerian man and raises her son and daughter in mid-twentieth century Britain. Although racism is present throughout, it is not the focus limitation of life.
“I am constantly pushing against the barrier of racism in my writing, but it is cloaked in humour and the celebration of humanity in all its shapes, colour and laughter”, she said.
Alongside poetry and performance, SuAndi is a librettist; with her opera Mary Seacole having opened at Covent Garden before touring. Mary Seacole was another extraordinary black woman of Jamaican descent who, like Florence Nightingale, tended to the wounded British soldiers of the Crimean War.
With her work woven into the fabric of Manchester, she created a series of metal discs inscribed with words from her poems in 2011. These are cemented into the Manchester Ship Canal Walkway on the quayside leading to the Lowry Arts Centre in Salford
Manchester Metropolitan University is deeply proud and honoured to celebrate the life and success of SuAndi, to whom they refer to as ‘one of our own’.
Through her significant contribution to arts and culture, in particular to the Black Arts Sector and within the North West, she presents a worthy role model for Manchester Metropolitan University’s students and staff.
So, if any of you think that all mixed raced people / Grow up confused, without identity / Think again / I work in schools / And often, the cocky lad sat at the back / Asks me where I come from / I answer “Manchester.” – SuAndi, from The Story of M.