Tuesday 25 February 2020

Alumni feature: Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe profile picture

Adam Lowe has been writing since he was a child. Taking his mum’s work envelopes, he would fashion home-made covers for his ‘novels’, which were largely written on the backs of letters from her job with Leeds City Council. Now a published author of five chapbooks of poetry, LGBT+ History Month Poet Laureate, and with his first full-length collection nearly finished, he’s come a long way from those early scribbles on scrap-paper...

Visits to the University as a child helped to spark Adam’s life-long love affair with Leeds. Both of his parents studied at Leeds, and Adam’s father used to bring him to the University Union to visit the bookshop, play in the games room and meet with friends in Old Bar. It seemed therefore, like a natural choice for Adam to choose to study at Leeds himself. “Leeds is such a vibrant, beautiful city that it seemed like a no-brainer to me,” says Adam. “I knew I’d be happy at Leeds.”

He decided to study English Language and Literature, in order to gain a broader understanding of critical theory. Having continued to write throughout his youth, by sixth-form Adam was running his college’s creative writing club and he knew that he wanted to be a writer. He continued to write throughout his undergraduate studies, and chose to stay on to pursue an MA in Writing for Performance and Publication after graduating.

Adam credits his studies with providing him with the confidence to try new genres. “The wide range of modules throughout the MA meant I got to try lots of different things and became much more comfortable having a go at a wide range of forms. It gave me the opportunity to write more flexibly, and that was invaluable.”

After leaving university, Adam founded Young Enigma - a space within the community in Manchester that provides support for young and emerging writers. Having personally benefited from taking part in writer development projects for BAME writers, he identified that there were no spaces that provided support explicitly for young LGBT+ writers. He felt that their specific needs were not being met by other organisations, and aimed to create a space in which they could develop professionally, emotionally and socially. By working with local and national groups, Adam developed a funding application which was ultimately successful. Since then, Young Enigma has continued to partner with a variety of organisations and community groups to support writers, producing the Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Patterflash!’, the anthology ‘SPOKE: New Queer Voices’, and sister publication ‘Vada Magazine’.

But of course, that didn’t mean the end of his ties with Leeds. In 2017, Adam was invited back to the University as a visiting lecturer for the School of Performance and Cultural Studies. “It felt right to be able to give back to the University and pass on my knowledge to current students.”

Adam’s story is one of talent and hard work, and his portfolio continues to grow. In 2018-19 Adam featured in the British Library’s ‘Out of Bounds’ exhibition, which explores the links between poetry, ethnicity and place, helping to create a new map of Britain written by Black and Asian poets.

He is currently working on his PhD and is looking forward to the publication of his first full-length collection. It is a work we, along with all of Adam’s eager readers, await with anticipation. In the meantime, why not read two of Adam's pieces below or explore more of his work here

Marsha P. Johnson over New York Pride

A parade winged with rainbows
sashays down the New York corridor.
Swelling crowds furl and ray
behind the clarion float. Spectators nuzzle closer,
traffic swept in their bending wave.
In this chanterie, a voice scoops near,
lilting between jangle and rave. It breezes,
thickens, scarpers quick. The velour voice
of Marsha P. It cries, ‘Throw that brick.
Don't submit,’ as it canters through history.


With a gaggle of drag queens and trans women of colour, Marsha P. Johnson fought back at police harassment at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar in New York. Police regularly raided the venue, but in the early hours of 28 June 1969, the community fought back. This sparked the Stonewall Riots which, a year later, were commemorated with the world’s first ever pride march. According to popular legend, Marsha threw the first brick. This was arguably the most important moment for LGBT rights in the US.

Tough Look

Well then, that's how you'll move:
with purpose; leonine strides.

You'll thatch your skin thicker
with a patchwork of diva, all Liza,

Whitney, Marilyn. You'll scare
men who fall out of Wetherspoons,

invoke platitudes from girls streaked
the colour of shoe polish. You'll

be you: a little braver, a little bigger
—but it will always sting inside.