• ©
  • Oliver Holms

Inua Ellams

  • Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria


Inua Ellams was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to the UK as a child.

He is a poet, performer, playwright, graphic artist and designer. He started performing in cafes in 2003 and has since worked in venues which include Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tate Britain, Theatre Royal Stratford and Glastonbury Festival. He has also undertaken several commissions, including those for Tate Modern, Soho Theatre and for the BBC's Politics Show.

His first book was the best-selling poetry pamphlet, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales (2005), and in 2009 his debut play, The 14th Tale (2009), a partly autobiographical coming of age tale, won a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Festival, toured, and ran at the National Theatre in 2010. His second play, Untitled (2010), toured in Autumn 2010.

His creative work has been recognised with a number of awards, most recently, The Live Canon International Poetry Prize, an Arts Council of England Award, a Wellcome Trust Award, shortlisted for the Brunel Prize for African Poetry, longlisted for the Alfred Fagan Award, and a 2009 Edinburgh Fringe First.

He has been commissioned by the Tate Modern, Louis Vuitton, Chris Ofili, National Theatre, BBC Radio & Television, Battersea Arts Centre and Soho Theatre. His first two books of poetry Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales (2005) and Candy Coated Unicorn and Converse (2011) are available from Flipped Eye, and several plays including Black T-shirt Collection (2012), Knight Watch (2012) and Cape (2013) are available from Oberon. In 2005, he founded the Midnight Run, a cross art form nocturnal urban movement to reconnect inner city lives with inner city spaces.

He is currently working on Barber Shop Chronicles – a new play, and a poetry pamphlet called #AfterhoursInua Ellams lives and works in London.


Black T-shirt Collection
Knight Watch
Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars
The 14th Tale
Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales


Live Canon International Poetry Prize
Edinburgh Festival Fringe First