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Bi+ Lines: bringing bi+ poets together

Bi+ Lines is a project for bi+ poets that explores ideas of in-betweenness. With the support of Arts Council England, I ran writing workshops for bi+ poets, published an anthology of bi+ poets with fourteen poems in 2023 and toured the UK with launches into May 2024. Order the book now and find out more below.

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The first-ever anthology of poems written by those who identify under the bi+ umbrella, Bi+ Lines is an engrossing, exciting, and often moving title gathering bi+ poets from across the globe. 

Edited by award winning poet Helen Bowell, the anthology collects new poems by more than 40 poets, ranging from those well-known to brand new voices. 

Themed around the idea of in-betweenness, these poems look at love and acceptance, at biphobia and belonging, at families and trust, and at how we can use poetry to express our desires, fears, and hopes. With new work from poets including Troy Cabida, Jen Campbell, Golnoosh Nourpanah, Shivanee Ramlochan, Jake Wild Hall and more, Bi+ Lines offers an insight into diverse stories that are often erased.

Your Bi+ Lines poets are: Freya Bantiff, Davina Bacon, Jake Wild Hall, Suyin Du Bois, Rory O’Sullivan, Adriano Nobl, Ben Dalitz, Jen Campbell, Yves Olade, Chloe Henney, Nasim Rebecca Asl, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan, Jennifer Wong, Viv Kemp, Grae Tower, Lenni Sanders, Rona Jia Luo, Imogen Wade, Paul S Ukrainets, Fadairo Tesleem, Ilisha Thiru Purcell, Astra Papachristodoulou, Eoin Kelly, Kyla Jamieson, Hetty Cliss, Isaac Ginsberg Miller, Adegboyega Kayowa, Maria Ilona Moore, George Parker, Bebe Ashley, Noah Gower-Jones, Shivanee Ramlochan, Beth Harrison, Troy Cabida, Imogen Osborne, Dan Fitt-Palmer, Fee Griffin, Nnamdi Ndiolo, Carmina Masoliver, Mish Green, Len Lukowski, Ruth Yates, Golnoosh Nour, Holly Moberley, Jane Flett

Launch events

We launched Bi+ Lines across the UK, with 10 events and over 400 audience members coming out (figuratively) to celebrate the book. Each event featured at least two readers from the book, and many involved open mics and panels on bi+sexual poetics. The final official launch for Bi+ Lines took place on 22 May 2024 in Manchester. You can watch back the livestreamed launch at Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh below. Keep your eyes peeled and follow us on social media @bi_poets for future events.

 

Are you a bi+ poet looking for a community? Get in touch via bipoetsonline[at]gmail[dot]com if you'd like to join the self-organising online workshop group, which came out of the Bi+ Lines project.

Join the London-based group at bipoetslondon[at]gmail[dot]com.

Want to set up your own group? I can help connect you with bi+ poets in your area. Drop me a line at bipoetsproject[at]gmail[dot]com.

Past events

23 September 2023 - Queer Britain - London

We celebrated Bi+ Visibility Day in the UK's first and only LGBTQ+ museum, ft. Golnoosh Nour, Holly Moberley and George Parker

11 October - online

An online coming out party on National Coming Out Day, ft. Jen Campbell, Shivanee Ramlochan, Fadairo Tesleem and others

29 November - National Centre for Writing - Norwich

Queering England's most eastern city ft. Viv Kemp and Hetty Cliss

6 December - National Poetry Library - London

A Special Editions reading and a panel on bi+ poetics ft. Troy Cabida, Maria Moore and Rona Luo

1 February 2024 - Gay's the Word - London

Bi+'s the word, ft. Carmina Masoliver, Jennifer Wong and Adriano Noble 

17 February 2024 - Portal Bookshop - York

Step through the Portal to a polysexual world, ft. Freya Bantiff and Ruth Yates

2 March 2024 - The Queery, Brighton

Bi+ghton's celebration of Bi+ Lines ft. Astra Papachristodoulou and Imogen Wade

10 April 2024 - Lighthouse Books - Edinburgh

The queers assemble in Scotland's capital, ft. Len Lukowski and Ilisha Thiru Purcell 

12 April 2024 - Category Is - Glasgow

Category is... bi+ at Glasgow's LGBTQ+ book shop, ft. Nasim Rebecca Asl and Beth Harrison

22 May - Queer Lit - Manchester

A big bi+ party at Europe's largest LGBTQ+ bookshop to end the UK tour, ft. Jake Wild Hall, Lenni Sanders and Fee Griffin

Launching Bi+ Lines at Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh, 11 April 2024
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More about the project

Who are you?

Hi! I'm Helen Bowell and I run Bi+ Lines. You can find out more about my work elsewhere on this website. Other partners on this project include: fourteen poems, Gay's The Word, Commonword, Manchester Poetry Library, Out on the Page, Spread the Word and The Writing Squad.

Bi+ Lines included:

  • 4 online workshops and 4 in London, Manchester, Norwich and Glasgow for poets at all stages (March - April 2023) - these are now over but you can follow Bi+ Lines on Eventbrite for future events here

  • The first print anthology of bi+ poets in English, edited by me after an open submissions process (more than 2,800 poems were submitted from 40 countries!) and published by LGBTQ+ publisher fourteen poems. 

  • From Autumn 2023 to Spring 2024, friendly, community-minded launch events in London, Manchester, Norwich, Glasgow, Brighton, York, Edinburgh and online featuring poets in the anthology

  • Social media profiles (@bi_poets on Twitter and Instagram) to continue this community and celebrate the successes of bi+ poets long into the future

What's the theme?

Through the workshops and the anthology, we explored the theme of 'in-betweenness'. 

Bi+ people exist between categories. We are often seen as not being queer enough to be in a queer spaces, but neither are we straight enough to fit comfortably in the straight world. As a mixed race person with a sticky relationship to class, I've always felt a little outside of categories. And as a poet, too, I know about categories breaking down when you look too hard at them.

So the theme for Bi+ Lines was 'in-betweenness', because I want to investigate that genre-defying existence and help bi+ people to reclaim it in their writing practice. I think poetry is very suited to exploring this, and I was excited to include genre-bending poems in the anthology too - whether that's prose poetry, visual poetry, verse drama, playing with form and fragments, collage, zines, found and blackout poetry, or even just experimenting with how a poem looks on the page.

 

And isn't defying categories one of the queerest things you can do?

 

What do you mean by bi+?

This project aims to be as inclusive as possible to people on the multisexual spectrum. If you are bi, biromantic, pan, poly, queer, fluid, heteroflexible, homoflexible, demisexual, greysexual, questioning (or otherwise feel aligned to the bi+ category) you are very welcome, as long as you're happy to be included in a project marked as bi+. Whether you know exactly what your label is or seem to change every week, whether you feel assured in your queerness or don't feel "queer enough", if you're ace, single, in a monosexual-presenting relationship or polyamorous, you are welcome and valid and valued here. Bi+ Lines welcomes trans people, and given the focus on beyond-the-binaries, I have been particularly interested in hearing from non-binary people.

 

You don't have to be out to take part in this project: anonymous contributions to the anthology were welcome and we'd love you to join the community in whatever feels safe to you. If you're still working out your sexuality, that's cool too! (And, I think, is very bi+.) Come along and we'll figure it out down the line.

 

I'll also leave Robyn Ochs’ famous definition of bisexuality below because I personally find it useful:

I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.

What are you doing about access?​

All events and submissions are free or pay as you feel. We had funding for a BSL interpreter at two workshops and launches, and Russell Andrews kindly interpreted our final event in Manchester. Online workshops were auto-captioned. Workshops took place at different times and days of the week to give people with a variety of schedules and responsibilities the chance to join at least one. 

Why are you doing this?

I wanted to create a project specifically for bi+ people, who experience particular prejudices and stereotypes, and experience biphobia from both the queer community and the straight world. As a result, bi+ people are less likely to be out of the closet than their lesbian and gay counterparts, more likely to experience poor mental health, and less likely to join queer communities (Stonewall).

 

I hoped this project would give bi+ writers the chance to reclaim the in-betweenness that has been used to shut us out, and instead harness it creatively. I wanted the workshops to give bi+ poets a chance to develop their skills and write more, and hoped that the anthology would increase representation of bi+ people and exist as an object that helps future bi+ people feel less alone. I wanted all the workshops and events to be as focused on building community as developing craft and celebrating writers, and I want the @bi_poets social media profiles to keep that community going now that its initial funding has run out. Hopefully this project will do something small to reduce biphobia and its impacts on us.

Why poetry? I'm a poet, it's all I know. I'm sorry if you're a bi+ science fiction writer - hopefully you'll find the outcomes of the project interesting and fingers crossed there will be a project some day for you too!

And why am doing this? Well, I'm a glutton for admin, aren't I...

How can I hear more?

Sign up to the free Substack mailing list for updates about this and future queer poetry projects below. You can also follow us (who am I kidding, it's just me) @bi_poets on Twitter and Instagram and check back here for updates.

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