About Leah


I am a spoken word poet, activist and lecturer, published through performance, film, anthologies and magazines in England and the United States. At the heart of my poetry is the autobiographical exploration of identity and issues of liberation.

I am an International Fellow at The England Centre for Practice Development at Canterbury Christ Church University, the 2016 Kent Creative Arts Champion of the Year and an Associate at the Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health.

Much of my work is with women, including –

Co-curating Folkestone WOW Festival, 2015 and 2016;

Residencies at Drayton Park Women’s Mental Health Crisis House, London 1996 to the present;

Projects in women’s prisons including York Correctional Institution, USA; HMP Bronzefield; HMP Holloway; HMP Peterborough and HMP East Sutton Park.


For the past ten years I have led poetry workshops in prisons nationally. In 2012 I was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship, visiting women’s prisons across the United States with dance and theatre companies. In 2013 I received a Royal Society for Public Health Special Commendation Award for my contribution to Creative Arts and the Criminal Justice System.

I also collaborate with filmmakers to create poetryfilms.

With Ewan Golder, I made ‘watch’, an award-winning film using Super 8 film, poetry, storytelling and photography to reveal the impact of dementia on my relationship with my  father.


I have made two poetryfilms with filmmaker Clare Unsworth, ‘count’ about everyday sexism and ‘shhh!’ about the systematic silencing of women. Both have been selected for screening at international feminist film festivals in the UK, France, Dubai, Republic of Ireland and across the States.



‘Beautiful Sentence’ is a documentary by Suzanne Cohen made when I was writer-in-residence at HMP Bronzefield


a-beautiful-sentence‘Beautiful Sentence’

For my TEDxWomen talk about the use of poetry as provocation and witness with women in prison visit http://www.leahthorn.com/prison-work/tedxwomen-talk/

To see examples of my performance and facilitation work, visit www.leahthorn.com