These poems from featured poets Keith Jarrett, Remi Graves, Courtney Conrad and malakaï sargeant respond to historical archives and objects from the Lloyd’s insurance market which show evidence of insurrection by enslaved people on board the ships of the Middle Passage and give life and meaning to the their names, voices and experiences which have been silenced in the spaces of exchange and economic speculation


To: buckrabuccanneer666@hotmail.com

Cc: ‘Lloyd’s’;
Bcc: ‘Ancestors’

Re: Guipúzcoa agreement

Hello Fermin,

I’ve been looped into this email so just jumping in.
I’m too tired for pleasantries. Where to even…?
This contract is… troubling? Puzzling?
I’m measuring my language, claro. Made a few napkin
calculations – or, tbh, used an online calculator tool to string
these numbers across our time continuums – to bring
you into the 21st and help with my mental labouring.
So, ‘slaves valued at 45 pounds ea.’ at a 1780 rate, taking in
today’s inflation is roughly a 2017 value of – drumroll begin –
£3,454.25. These figures are… numbing? Astonishing?
But the rationale of trafficking is hardly worth imagining.

Fermin, honestly, do you feel you’ve struck a bargain?
Total ship value of more than a 1⁄4 mil – it’s staggering!
But do you feel the shiver of your future gathering
pace around the neck of these lands, laying
its hands on the soil over your grave, tightening
its grip for a reckoning?


Dr. Keith Jarrett’s work explores Caribbean British identity, religion and sexuality. A multiple poetry slam champion, he was selected for the International Literary Showcase as one of 10 outstanding LGBT writers in the UK. His poem, ‘From the Log Book’, was projected onto St. Paul’s Cathedral and broadcast as a commemorative installation. His play, Safest Spot in Town, was performed at the Old Vic and aired on BBC Four. Selah, his poetry collection, was published in 2017. Keith teaches at NYU in London and is completing his debut novel.

Fermin de Tastet was a Spanish merchant in the City of London who got insurance coverage for a slaving voyage aboard the Guipúzcoa from the  Lloyd’s insurance market in the early 1790s. The two agreements are part of the Lloyd’s archives and a handwritten note on one of these references the £45 value given above.



calm seas

always moving
never ashore
never still
always dying
always alive
never alone
never not imagining
never not eyes to the overhead
never sky always overhead
painting blue beyond the hold
always dreaming
always always never never
always hearing the horizon tilt its axis
always knowing
the water beneath and above the buoying
never dry always parched
always imagining sated thirst
always thirsty
always damp never not
here always gone
always happened to never happened for
never not refusing
always refusing to never not refuse
always one foot on the bottom rung of the ladder, wrung mind, sea-swell, swollen hold, whole
in this ship’s grubby grip hands slicked with tar, grit, shit, filth, salt, spit, vomit until elsewhere
becomes me — and what do we look like from up there, god’s open air sitting room? a fleck of
something heinous on the good calm seas, tiny dark dots on un-cresting waves


Remi Graves is a London based poet and drummer. A former Barbican Young Poet, Remi’s work has been commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral, Barbican and BBC Radio 4. Remi has taught at The Poetry School and performed at Cheltenham Literature Festival, Tate Modern and more. Remi’s debut pamphlet with your chest was published by Fourteen Poems in 2022.



Death Over Coffee

Before black pulses load vessels,
two men walk into a coffee shop
teaspoons stir the grit of dark beans
as curdling tongues spar. The underwriter
serves slave trader a platter of inherent vices:
Slave trader knows ship carnages brew
long before rocking waves. Merchandise
readying for ‘piracy’. Neither slave trader
nor underwriter willing to grind their shillings
over black fossilising villages underwater.


Courtney Conrad is a Jamaican poet. She is an Eric Gregory Award winner, Bridport Prize Young Writers Award recipient and has been shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize, Manchester Poetry Prize and Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Magma, The White Review and bath magg, and her work has been widely anthologised. She is an alumna of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme, Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, Barbican Young Poets, Obsidian Foundation and Roundhouse Poetry Collective.




Dear Almighty God,

if You are really / there, we pray that when / Your wind revisits, / distracted,
necks snap / unexpectedly, as / if tapped on the back / by new destinies. / we
pray for the heat / of guilt and pressure / to marry, walking the / devils down the
aisle / to the tune of their / own failed abortion / for we prevailed / let us be
merry, / at their expense, like / they do us, O Lord; / we lust to drink their
/ muffled screams in shells / recovered from home. / if You hear us now /
give us just one thing: we ask for chaos ////
use Your hand to strike // through the black dove’s cage // birth us in a new //
darkness. //// let the air expand ///// let the sea gyrate ////// let the whole
earth swell ////////// on this boat; the hold ////// like all of us here // is
ready to burst.

Shall they rise? Indeed!



malakaï sargeant is a writer, theatre director, dramaturg and cultural producer from pre- gentrified Hackney, London. Led by curiosity and care, malakaï creates and interrogates through an unapologetically Afroqueer lens. They are a senior producer at Poet in the City and Co-Creative Director of experimental literary arts organisation BORN::FREE.


The anthology also included artwork from Jess Nash and Levi Naidu-Mitchell.

Uprising & Resistance: Jess Nash

Uprising & Resistance: Levi Naidu-Mitchell


For more information on the project:

Please note that we are currently awaiting a reprint of Uprising & Resistance, which should happen in the spring / early summer of 2024. To register your interest, please email Kate at enquiries@inksweatandtears.co.uk.

Uprising & Resistance


To buy its predecessor, Runaways London, produced in conjunction with Spread the Word and the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slave in Britain Project, please go here.

Runaways London