New Chairperson appointed to lead Manchester City of Literature

Manchester City of Literature has announced the appointment of Manchester based novelist, poet and screenwriter Zahid Hussain as the first Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Zahid will lead the Board of the new organisation at this very exciting time, as it begins its work to celebrate the diverse voices of our city and maximise the benefits that our UNESCO City of Literature designation can bring.

Zahid said of his appointment, “I am profoundly honoured and thrilled to be part of Manchester City of Literature. The UNESCO designation offers us the unmissable opportunity to demonstrate the depth of the Manchester Spirit. Manchester has so much to offer and across so many diverse spheres from sport to science. The City of Literature status grants us a platform to weave the voices of the city together from Wythenshawe to Blackley, Chorlton to Gorton. More than anything else, I believe Manchester City of Literature will give us the chance to share and amplify the stories that make Manchester the awesome place it is.”

A former North West Poetry Slam champion, Zahid has performed at venues such as Manchester’s Green Room and Contact Theatre and has regularly featured on BBC Radio. His debut novel ‘The Curry Mile’ was named by New Statesman as one of their books of the year in 2006.

Zahid will bring a wealth of experience to the role and shares Manchester’s vision for an inclusive and diverse City of Literature. The founder of Manchester Muslim writers (the only collective of Muslim writers in the UK) and a trustee of the Black Training and Enterprise Group for over a decade, Zahid also founded ‘Young Shakespeares’ to teach creative writing to young people and set up the first BAME football league in Manchester.

Most recently Zahid has worked with Read Manchester, Manchester Libraries and local residents to create the innovative multilingual poem ‘Made in Manchester’, celebrating the city’s 200 spoken languages. The poem currently includes lines in 65 languages, including British Sign Language, and is intended to be a living art work that embraces Manchester’s diverse communities and newcomers from across the globe.

The text of the poem is on display now in Central Library and is highlighted in a video which can be viewed online.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, said, “We are thrilled at Zahid’s appointment, which is a major milestone for the city’s UNESCO designation. Zahid is passionate about literature, about ensuring the voices of communities across Manchester are heard and about bringing the city together through inclusive engagement. He shares Manchester’s vision for an inclusive and diverse City of Literature that truly celebrates and represents the people of Manchester.

"Manchester City Council looks forward to working with Zahid, the new Manchester City of Literature organisation and partners across the city to ensure that our residents reap the benefits of our UNESCO designation.”

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said, “Manchester has a proud literary voice as highlighted by its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. Zahid Hussain will bring his extensive knowledge of the city and its many and varied neighbouring places to his role as Chair of Manchester City of Literature and will help to ensure that literature and diversity are at the heart of the City of Literature activities.”

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