Fathima Zahra was born in Kerala, India, and raised primarily in the Middle East before moving to the UK. She first encountered spoken-word poetry as a young teen through a video by Amal Ahmed Albaz, which led Zahra to realize that poetry could be a space for Muslim women and their self-expression. Zahra is a Barbican Young Poet and a 2018–2019 Roundhouse Poetry Collective alum. In 2019, she won the Wells Festival of Literature Young Poets Prize with her poem “Thirteen” and the Bridport Prize for “Things I wish I could trade my headscarf for,” the latter of which was selected from nearly 4,000 poems. She was also a runner-up in the 2018 Roundhouse Poetry Slam final and has been shortlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize and the Women Poets’ Prize. Zahra’s work has been featured in BBC World News, Young Poets Network, and the New Indian Express, and is forthcoming in the anthology SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This (Pan Macmillan, 2020) and in her debut collection Datepalm Ghazals (Burning Eye Books, 2020). Zahra is concluding her studies in biomedical sciences at the Queen Mary University of London and is based in Essex.
Photo credit: Suzi Corker