They wanted to drown me at birth – now I’m a poet’

Rahil Sheikh:

Born in an Indian village with cerebral palsy, Kuli Kohli was lucky to survive. Neighbours told her parents they should throw her in the river, instead they brought her to the UK. As she grew up here, writing became her means of escape – and transformed her life in ways she never expected.

Waiting to be called on stage in her home town of Wolverhampton, Kuli Kohli felt sick with anxiety. She was petrified her words wouldn’t come out and worried she would fall flat on her face. Her heart soared and her nerves clattered. Self-doubt raced through her mind. “Why am I putting myself through all of this?” she asked herself.

The host welcomed Kuli to the empty chair that was waiting for her. It was dark, a spotlight illuminated the stage, and a small wave of applause rippled around the room.

Emerging from the side of the stage, Kuli nervously approached the mic. She took a breath and a few seconds of silence passed before she shared one of her poems with an audience for the very first time.

Choose Life.