Arji is a poet and writer who has written for theatre, TV, podcasts, essays and articles. He has been shortlisted for several awards, most recently was successfully named The Jerwood Arvon mentee 2019. This has led to him being mentored by the multi-award winning poet and novelist Hannah Lowe.
Arji released his debut pamphlet with Outspoken Press in 2020.
“Arji Manuelpillai hits the ground running with this debut and I freaking love it. His poems are funny, irreverent, hugely affecting. He’s fidgety, darts moment to moment – you’ll rush after him, then suddenly find he’s stopped, spun on his heel and you’re face-to-face with his good-natured grin. Manuelpillai will dial up the volume just to whisper something damn beautiful beneath its surface. Every page of Mutton Rolls is tasty, and announces by increment a highly enjoyable new voice.”
— Wayne Holloway-Smith
Arjunan Manuelpillai’s energetic and moving poems offer us a world of Ikea flatpacks and stolen credit cards, email conversations and trips to Hawaii. His voice is entirely his own, full of pizzazz, and his mastery of narrative and syntactic jump-cuts gives great excitement to his verse. He is adept at pointing at enormous themes through small incidents: a crowd of white people sunbathing on a beach, a mother chatting at a petrol station in a language her son can’t understand. One feels that there is enough linguistic verve here to rock the world, but beyond this there is so much feeling, It takes a special talent to write poems that wow us even while they are breaking our hearts, and this pamphlet announces a crucial new voice.
- Jonathan Edwards
Credits for poetry 2018/2020 include
- 2020 - Pamphlet released under Outspoken Press
- 2019 JERWOOD/ARVON Mentee
- The Lake (2019)
- Merak Magazine
- The Rialto (2019)
- Prole Magazine / 'A sonnet for the equal opportunities monitoring form.' (2018)
- The Lighthouse Journal / 'My Top Shottah' (2018)
- Blue Nib (2018)
- Cannon's Mouth (2018)
- Live Canon's 154 (2018)
- Poet in Residence for 2017 at Shakespeare's Birthplace trust
- Poet in Residence for 2018 at The Wedgewood Museum
- poems in anthologies including Survival (BadbettyPress)
- Runner-up for Robert Graves Prize 2020
- Longlisted for Live Canon prize 2020
- Shortlisted for Oxford Brookes Prize 2020
- Shortlisted for Live Canon poetry prize 2018
- Shortlisted for Robert Graves Prize 2019
- Shortlisted for Burning Eye Pamphlet Prize 2019
Brand new single on Spotify. A collaboration with Bpmoore, visuals by Alex Noble. The poem used is from the new pamphlet 'Mutton Rolls'
As part of his residency in a canal boat hire shop in Stratford upon Avon Arji produced this short film
This film was produced for refugee week 2019.
I worked with INNCROWD to run a remote residency with residents of a small village called Allhallows. I spoke to a variety of people and finally created a pamphlet of 16 poems.