Programme Description

This is a weekend programme based at Cambridge Muslim College, designed for those who would like to become creative and confident writers of poetry. The programme combines writing time, discussion, and readings from different genres of poetry. A tutor will discuss poetic devices and terms using poems from the Islamic literary tradition, as well as English literature. Participants will have the opportunity to develop poems from predetermined prompts. At the end of the weekend, participants will have an opportunity to solicit feedback on their new writing or previous ones in one-on-one sessions with the tutor.

Day 1:
The first day will consist of a workshop-cum-walk to Grantchester, observing the beauty of nature. Participants will learn to name fauna and flora and relate location and historical moment to nature in view. During the afternoon, participants will have a chance to work more on their poems from the morning and hear the tutor read studied nature/visionary poems from different traditions. This encompasses the outward aspect of the weekend, though there are many spiritual connotations in nature poetry.

Day 2:
On the second day, the writing session will concentrate on ‘thingness’, showing an object to inspire writing. This to encourage close observation with precise description. Participants will concentrate and only slowly makes any abstract comments, in order to transition from description to thought as natural as possible. Participants will have the opportunity to sit in the College garden or choose from one of the quiet locations in and around the College to write. The remainder of the day will consist of an exploration of different masters of mystical/ visionary Islamic and Christian or Jewish poetry or agnostic masters.

During the weekend, evening sessions will allow participants to have informal discussions over dinner and listen to the delivery of a lecture. Participants will have the opportunity to bring up questions or reflections that might have come up during the day and share creative insights from their own writing practices.

No requirements. All levels of writers welcome! 


Paul Sutherland is Canadian-British award-winning poet. A Muslim since 2004, he has eleven collections, editing seven others. He’s founding editor of Dream Catcher a national-international journal in its 35th issue. He performs his poetry, runs creative writing workshops and retreats, leads seminars, mentors, and collaborates with musicians and visual artists. His works include Poems on the Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saws); A Sufi Novice in Shaykh Efendi’s Realm, (first pub. In Romania in a bilingual book 2014; re-printed in UK 2015), and A New and Selected Poems, from Valley Press.  The University of Lincoln archives his writings in poetry and criticism.

Poetry Readings and Lectures by:

Yasmine Ahmed-Lea is an unpublished writer, and has been writing poetry and short stories since she was 13 years old. Originally from the UK, and having lived in both Germany and Malaysia, she has grown up immersed in a deeply Sufi Muslim community and is inspired by poets such as Rumi, Hafez, Jami and Nizami, as well as by traditional Sufi saints across South Asia and the wider Muslim world. She also has a deep love for classical western poets such as W.B. Yeats, Walt Whitman, Keats and The Bronte sisters. She studied English Literature at The University of Birmingham and as worked in Media, Marketing and Communications for the last 8 years. She continues to write and has performed her poetry at various spoken word events, namely at KL Poetry Café and Rumi’s’ Cave. Her poetic themes range from seeing the Divine in the everyday, family and culture, reflections of the human experience, social commentary, and personal, emotional interactions on how she feels about the importance of having faith in often turbulent, dark times.

Uzma Ali is a writer of poetry and fiction.  She has completed advanced poetry courses at ‘The Poetry School’ in London, counting Forward Prize winners as among her mentors.  She has performed poetry in venues across London, and was recently published in an anthology in the US entitled ‘Children of Immigrants’.  She is currently working on her first novel.

Ron Geaves is better known as an historian of Islam in Britain, especially for his ground-breaking biography Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam (2010, 2014). He has recently co-edited Victorian Muslim with Jamie Gilham (2017) and his new monograph Islam and Britain: Muslim Mission in the Age of Empire will appear in early 2018. He has held several chairs at British universities and remains Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK based in the University of Cardiff. He has been writing and performing poetry since the 1980s, recently appearing at the Bradford Literature Festival along with Ben Okra and others in a session entitled Modern Mystical Poets. His first single authored collection of poems Rumi Weeds was published this year.