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Graduate Poet Battles Against Racism with Dub Hip-Hop and Degree

Originally published 1 July 2003

Richard Grant, a prolific West Midlands poet from Rugby, has just completed a 2+2 degree in Social Studies at the University of Warwick, and is using his skills and newfound talent for poetry to help reduce racism and bring poetry back to the people.

Unemployed at the age of 27 Richard Grant, aka Dreadlockalien, started a 2+2 degree at the University of Warwick, and hasn’t looked back since. He has successfully juggled raising a young family, working as a chef, and working in the arts to achieve his degree.

The degree in Social Studies opened up the chance for Richard to forge a career in the arts when a course lecturer first published a piece of his dub poetry, which is a brand of oral poetry arising from reggae and hip hop cultures. Five years on, Richard has performed at 70 events, and he regularly runs workshops in schools and community groups.

Hip-hop is creating a culture that goes beyond race, education, and income. Richard’s dub, hip-hop poetry revolves around issues of racism, definitions of blackness, immigration and growing up as an ‘Indo Caribbean’ in the UK.

Through the BBC Roots Project and West Midlands Arts Richard is helping to promote communication between African-Caribbean and Asian communities and ensure cultural traditions are brought to mainstream audiences via local radio and television.

Richard Grant said: “When I started the course at Warwick my major worries were financial survival, low academic confidence and fear of failure. These didn’t go away, but lessened as the journey progressed. Skills that held me in good stead for the degree were effective time management and a good work ethic.”

“The 2+2 degree has been the greatest test I have had to face yet. Leading a team of chefs at a six-course banquet for 500, raising a family and performing poetry is easy in comparison!”

Richard is resident poet at the Community Arts Workshop in Leamington Spa and recently won a National Slam Poetry competition, held in Oxford. In his spare time he runs a spoken word recording label and manages a collective of artists called the New October Poets.

Richard hopes to undertake postgraduate studies in the future. He will return to the university later this year to deliver his dissertation to a European conference on adult education.

For more information contact:

Richard Grant,
Tel: 01788 335644

Jenny Murray,
Assistant Press Officer,
University of Warwick
07876 217740

Photo and interview opportunity:

Richard will graduate from the University of Warwick on Friday 11th July. A photo and interview opportunity will take place at the back of Senate House at 12.15pm.

The 2+2 Degree Programme provides over 21 year old without formal qualifications the chance to gain a degree through two years’ study at a local college and a further two years at the University of Warwick.