Photo of AFLO performing

Postgraduate researcher channelling poetic identity into spoken word activism

A Brighton PhD student is combining her research work with an increasingly high profile presence as an activist poet in movements like Black Lives Matter.

For her research in the School of Applied Social Science, Annie Whilby is in the second year of a PhD exploring experiences of intimacy and mental health. But as AFLO., she brings her life experiences to bear in potent spoken word performances at a wide range of events addressing issues such as racism, decolonisation and mental health.

Influenced by hip-hop from an early age, AFLO.’s work is a powerful embodiment of her belief that creativity is at the heart of revolution and change. Her appearances range from being a memorable presence at 2020 Black Lives Matter street protests in Brighton to specialist webinars.

In March she will be performing at Diversity Resource International’s event as part of on International Women’s Day (8 March) and at FemFest (12 March).

Speaking to Brighton newspaper The Argus last October, AFLO. said: “With poetry, I think you are painting a picture with your words, and people can see and imagine what you are talking about a lot more. Expressing yourself creatively can also be an easier way to talk about more difficult things you might be feeling because you can paint it with metaphors and make it sound like you are talking about something different.”

You can hear AFLO. performing her best known work Wake Up. You can also hear another piece called Decolonised Rhymes. She can be found on Twitter and also on Instagram.

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