Ronnie McGrath (aka ronsurreal) is a founding member of the now defunct musical group The London Afro Blok, who toured Europe, performed for the Queen, and opened the Commonwealth Games in British Columbia, Canada. For that memorable event, he gives thanks to the people of the first nations for use of their land.
A published writer and poet, Ronnie is a graduate of Manchester University’s MA in Novel writing and was both a runner up and 1st place winner of Len Garrison’s ACER award for Young Penmanship. Born in the UK, he spent his early years growing up with his grandmother Sarah, brother Michael, and other members of his extended family in Kingston, Jamaica. Just like his neo-surrealist poetry and postmodern writing, Ronnie produces contemporary works of art which are informed by the changing same of his ‘black’ identity.
A former Creative Writing Lecturer at University of the Arts, London College of Communication, he teaches creative writing at Imperial College London, Bath Spa University, and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College. In 2018 he was invited by the Centre for Black Humanities, Bristol University, to talk about his art in a lecture entitled Signs and Symbols: the Consciousness of Black Art in the Postmodern World. In the same year he chaired a panel at Queens College Cambridge for RAPAPUK (Race, Poetry and Poetics UK) on ‘Radical Black Traditions’ and performed his brand of neo-surrealist, postmodern poetry.
He held a solo exhibition at Goldsmiths, University of London, consisting of his paintings and assemblage works of art for the On Whose Terms? Ten Years On… (Critical Negotiations in Black British Literature and the Arts) conference. He has performed his poetry for Paper Nations and Time to Write, a creative writing incubator, and contributed to their roundtable discussion about writing and the nature of Black writing in Britain.
Ronnie has also appeared alongside a small coterie of black British academics and celebrities, on the BBC4 documentary Tales from the Front Room, which is based on an installation by artist and playwright Michael McMillan’s work.
As well as having taught creative writing for many years at CRISIS, the UK’s national charity for people experiencing homelessness, and currently at Mount Carmel Addiction Treatment Centre, Ronnie has facilitated workshops in schools and for a variety of organisations throughout the country, including writing as a therapeutic tool.