Bi+ Lines: bringing bi+ poets together
Bi+ Lines is a project for bi+ poets that explores ideas of in-betweenness, funded by Arts Council England. We ran writing workshops for bi+ poets in spring 2023 and published an anthology of bi+ poets with fourteen poems. You can order the book now and come celebrate it at one of our launches across the UK and online, 2023-24.
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.
We will be launching Bi+ Lines across the UK and we'd love you to join us! Each event will feature at least two readers from the book, and many will involve open mics and panels on bi+sexual poetics. More details and booking information will be added here so keep your eyes peeled and follow us on social media @bi_poets.
Celebrate Bi+ Visibility Day in the UK's first and only LGBTQ+ museum, ft. Golnoosh Nour, Holly Moberley and George Parker
An online coming out party on National Coming Out Day, ft. Jen Campbell, Shivanee Ramlochan, Fadairo Tesleem and others
Queer England's most eastern city ft. Viv Kemp and Hetty Cliss
A Special Editions reading and a panel on bi+ poetics ft. Troy Cabida, Maria Moore and Rona Luo
Date TBC - Queer Lit - Manchester
A big bi+ party at Manchester's queer bookshop's brand new venue
1 February - Gay's the Word - London
Bi+'s the word, ft. Carmina Masoliver, Jennifer Wong and Adriano Noble
17 February - Portal Bookshop - York
Step through the Portal to a polysexual world
10 April - Lighthouse Books - Edinburgh
The queers assemble in Scotland's capital
13 April - Category Is - Glasgow
Category is... bi+ at Glasgow's LGBTQ+ book shop
More about the project
Who are you?
Hi! I'm Helen Bowell and I'm running 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 includes:
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 and published by LGBTQ+ publisher fourteen poems.
From Autumn 2023 onwards, friendly, community-minded launch events in London, Manchester, Norwich, Glasgow, Brighton, York, Edinburgh, online - and elsewhere, if festivals will have us! - with paid performances from the poets in the anthology
What's the theme?
Through the workshops and the anthology, we're exploring 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 is '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'm 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 your 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. Two of the workshops and events will be BSL interpreted, upon request.* Online workshops will also be 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.
*I know this isn't a perfect system and puts the onus on you to declare your needs. The reason I've done it this way is that I've been involved with several poetry workshops/gigs where BSL interpreters are booked but aren't needed - though they are paid, isn't very satisfying work for the interpreters. So if you need a BSL interpreter, please, please, just ask. Arts Council England have given me money to support your participation in this project, and I want to spend it! (If you want to point out another flaw in this system, I'm all ears - drop me a line on bi.poets.project [at] gmail [dot] com.)
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). My hope for this project is that it will give bi+ writers the chance to reclaim the in-betweenness that has been used to shut us out, and instead harness it creatively. I hope the workshops will give bi+ poets a chance to develop their skills and write more, and that the anthology will increase representation of bi+ people and exist as an object that helps future bi+ people feel less alone. I want 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 even after funding runs 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 I doing this? Well, I'm a glutton for admin, aren't I...
How can I hear more?
Back in February 2022, I tweeted to see if there was appetite for this project and got so many responses that I made a Google Form to gather people's details, skills and ideas in a more structured way. If you want to fill it out so I know more about you, it's here. (If you've already filled it out, don't bother doing it again!)
Sign up to the 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 over the coming months.