Collaborating with Poets & Writers

As well as being inspired by colour, nature, and energy, I have always found beautiful writings to be deeply moving and often leave a lasting impression. I can still conjure vivid images in my mind from books I read as a child, which to me shows the power of the written word.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, unable to get to my studio, I was restricted to painting from home. Amid this surreal existence a thought came to me:  What if a poet were to respond to one of my abstracts with a poem, it would be wonderful to read how they felt. While dwelling on that concept I questioned whether I could respond to a poem with an abstract painting. Missing the contact with people outside of my immediate family, I felt the urge to start a new art project which would still allow me to connect, albeit ‘virtually’, with other creatives. Having previously explored the idea of blind people engaging with and responding to my work (which led me to devise, develop and successfully deliver my ‘Art Appreciation Workshop for the Blind and Low Vision’), I was excited about this next adventure.

So, I discussed this idea with a couple of inspiring friends who are amazing poets/writers. Feeling the same passion and enthusiasm that I had for the project, they agreed to collaborate and came on board immediately – for which I am profoundly grateful!  Since I started the project, I have been introduced to several talented creatives who have warmly embraced the project, which has been an extremely fulfilling experience, and I am filled with so much gratitude.

Right from the outset of this project my wish had been to collaborate with creatives from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, genders, and ages to make this project as inclusive as possible. There are no creative parameters or constraints – the beauty of this premise is that there are no right or wrong responses and that any reaction is welcomed and embraced. We all have our own unique and precious perspective, and this is exactly what I wish to celebrate with #artypoetry!

Click here to read my process of responding to poetry / prose through art!


It has been an honour and a pleasure to collaborate with the following poets and writers on this project:
Ruth Padel
Jenny Mitchell
Beverley Glick
Danielle Lima
Norman Miller
Alka Handa
Dominic Palmer-Brown
Sunny Bansal
Tanaz Assefi
Mandeep Birdy

Collaboration Process & Results

Each poet / writer I collaborated with was asked to respond to one of my existing works in the form of a poem or a piece of prose.  They were also asked to submit one of their own pieces of work for me to respond to in the form of an abstract painting.  It was fascinating and heartwarming to read the wide range of responses I received; however, when it was my turn to respond to their works  I have to admit I struggled initially.  Click here to read about the process that worked for me. To provide further insight into the process, I used Ruth Padel’s poem ‘Human Fire’ as an example to illustrate my thought process in formulating my response.  You can either scroll to Ruth Padel’s section or Click here to see how I responded to ‘Human Fire’

I am so thrilled with the results so far.  I have documented each collaboration below, grouped by author, in sections containing:

  1. One of my abstracts followed by the author’s response to my work in the form of a poem / prose.
  2. A separate poem / prose from the same author next to my response in the form of an abstract painting.

You can either scroll down through each group or click on the name of any author at the top of the page to jump directly to their respective section.

Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel is a prize-winning UK poet, author of twelve acclaimed poetry collections and prose works including much-loved books on reading contemporary poetry, a travel-memoir on tiger conservation, and a study of the influence of Greek myth on rock music. Awards include a British Council Darwin Now Award, a Travel Bursary and Cholmondley Award from The Society of Authors, and First Prize in the National Poetry Competition. She is Professor of Poetry at King’s College London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her latest collection is Beethoven Variations, a biography of Beethoven through poems. Click here to visit Ruth’s website.

Xavier - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Ruth’s response to ‘Xavier’
‘Human Fire’ by Ruth Padel
My response to ‘Human Fire’

Click here to learn more about how I responded to Ruth’s poem ‘HUMAN FIRE’

Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell is joint winner of the Geoff Stevens’ memorial Poetry Prize 2019, and winner of the Fosseway Poetry Competition 2020. She has been published in several magazines including The RialtoThe Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar. Her work has been broadcast on BBC2 and Radio 4.

A debut collection, Her Lost Language (Indigo Dreams Publishing) was selected as one of 44 Poetry Books of 2019 (Poetry Wales).  Click here to see what Jenny is Tweeting about…

Jenny’s response to ‘Ruby’
‘Black Men Should Wear Colour’ by Jenny Mitchell
My response to ‘Black Men Should Wear Colour’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Jenny

Beverley Glick

Beverley Glick has been a professional storyteller for 40 years – first as a music journalist and pop magazine editor, and subsequently in a variety of key editorial roles on national newspapers.

She is now a clarity coach who combines intuition with precision to help individuals and business owners find their voice in the written and spoken word. She is also a communication skills trainer, author of the ebook Dig for the Story in Your Soul, and is currently writing her next book Night Night Washing Machine: My Life in Words.  To read Beverley’s blog about this collaboration click here

Beverley’s response to ‘Darian’
‘On Surrender’ by Beverley Glick
My response to ‘On Surrender’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Beverley and how a 2nd painting followed my 1st response to ‘ON SURRENDER’

Danielle Lima

I am a Brazilian screenwriter and a script consultant, post graduated in English Literature from University of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Passionate about films, art, literature, theatre and nature where I can easily feel reinvigorated and inspired. Where I find my escape to leisure but also to creativity, to silence and to the stillness inside.

Among many of my projects, and through a feminist lens, I’ve written the short script THE PHOTOGRAPHER – Finalist on the London Independent Story Prize and on a few other international screenwriting contests – and the short film WINGS – Finalist at the Zaragoza Film Festival, in Spain, and  awarded a DOP at Kalaburagi International Film Festival, in India.

Poetry plays an important role in my life. A childhood memory that has been warmly kept in my heart came to life and put in print in my poem A MULHER INVISÍVEL (The Invisible Woman). It has been published and selected by a few Brazilian anthologies of emerging poets.

I currently work as a script consultant and story coach for writers.  Click here to read my Interview to the London Independent Story Prize – LISP

Carmine - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Danielle’s response to ‘Carmine’
‘Time’ by Danielle Lima
My response to ‘Time’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Danielle

Norman Miller

Norman Miller is a global citizen, having been born in Hong Kong, then grown up there, Australia, South Africa and Brazil, before moving as a teenager from the largest city in South America to quite a small place in Scotland… Having got over his culture shock – and acquired an enduring love of Scotland – he has been a journalist for a very long time, writing about a lot of very different topics for anyone who pays him enough. He lives in Brighton, and much prefers it to London where he lived for about 10 years too long…    Click here for Norman’s portfolio

Jackson - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Norman’s response to ‘Jackson’
‘Child, Remember’ by Norman Miller
My response to ‘Child, Remember’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Norman

Alka Handa

Alka Handa’s writing career began in 2018. She has published stories in the CityLit annual selection and her work was recognized in the Spread the Word City of Stories anthology. She is currently working on her first novel: a coming of age story about generational conflict and the challenges of migration set in modern day India and Great Britain. Alka is also a volunteer counsellor for the mental health charity, Childline. She hopes that her writing will help provide hope and light for people, just as her favorite literature has done for her.

Alka’s response to ‘Amelia’
‘The Chiming Sea’ by Alka Handa
My response to ‘The Chiming Sea’

Dominic Palmer-Brown

“I am a writer and visiting professor of creative technology, and formerly a university dean and pro-vice chancellor. My academic research explores the role of neural networks in learning, memory and data mining.

Writing poetry provides a meaningful ‘soundtrack’ to my life and I recite my poems with Londinium Trio at venues around London, such as Sienko Studio Gallery and Burgh House. I performed a series of art poems to launch exhibitions at Nolias Gallery in Southwark. I post videos of my readings and the texts on various media.

My poems tend to utilise linguistic playfulness as a means of articulating real or imagined emotional moments, memories and events.

Click here to read some my poems

Petra - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Dominic’s response to ‘Petra’
‘Life is Magical’ by Dominic Palmer-Brown
My response to ‘Life is Magical’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Dominic

Sunny Bansal (aka Pankh)

In his own words …

“Poetry has always helped me cope with problems and emotions which I may or may not understand but definitely don’t know how to tackle and I guess most of us people can relate to this. My core motivation is to touch souls and help them cope with life and live it to the fullest. The world is currently (May 2020) going berserk and humanity seems to be taking a hit every day. Such times require care, support, and above all something and someone out there who can relate with you. Because no matter how different we are or whatever number of factors divide us, there are things that we all have in common, love and hope. That’s it. That’s what I seek and that’s what I hope to spread through my writing.  If you’re one of those who feel the same, feel free to read my work 🙂 ”  – Sunny

Sunny’s response to ‘Julius’
‘The Old Brick Home’ by Sunny Bansal
My response to ‘The Old Brick Home’

Tanaz Assefi

Tanaz Assefi is a London based artist who was born and raised in Iran, a land of contradictions where deserts and forests are a few miles apart.  Iranian traditions and ceremonies are intertwined with an exotic blend of symbolism and metaphoric language, which is visible in the literature and art of her land… this is Tanaz’s heritage and a part of her being. As an artist, she has always been in search of a relationship between the mysterious and symbolic world of ideas and allegories which take place in mythology, poetry and dreams.  Her art is mainly based on her visual dream diaries which she’s been keeping for a number of years; where she expresses her inner self, dreams, memories and reflections. She works mainly in colour as she considers colour to be the soul of life and root of all existence.  Click here to visit her website.

Larimar - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Tanaz’s response to ‘Larimar’
‘Harmony’ by Tanaz Assefi
My response to ‘Harmony’

Click here to learn more about my collaboration with Tanaz

Mandeep Birdy

Surrounded with a culture that is driven by hard work, Mandeep is known for her insatiable desire to learn, adapt, and enjoy versatile ways of painting – you can often see this in her varied styles. Her paintings are often mixed media, rich in texture and depth giving the illusion of a three-dimensional image and draws the viewer in. Currently her work is very figurative and includes imagery inspired by iconic sculptures of India and full of qualities like; truth, strength, compassion, benevolence, wisdom, competence, power and courage. As a spiritual person, Mandeep leans toward subjects and characteristics that we aspire to be. Her greatest inspiration is people; their attitude, manner and character. Mandeep feels that her most successful paintings are those that imbue personality, be it strong, gentle, kind or even sinister; those that transform a potentially very static and lifeless artform, into something that stimulates an emotional response from the viewer.  Click here to view her work.

Stephania - Furrah Syed - Abstract Art
Mandeep’s response to ‘Stephania’
‘Infinite Passion’ by Mandeep Birdy
My response to ‘Infinite Passion’