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JJ Bola

About JJ

JJ Bola is a London-based poet, educator, former refugee, and has been a supporter of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency since 2017.  JJ was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and his family fled to the UK when he was six years old.

Much of JJ’s work is focused around concepts of displacement and belonging, as well as black masculinity. JJ’s poem Refuge explores themes of forced flight, home, integration and the perception of refugees.

He is the author of three poetry collections; Elevate (2012), Daughter of the Sun (2014), and WORD (2015). His debut novel, No Place to Call Home, was published in 2017, and his second book, Mask Off, was published in 2019 and will be translated into 5 languages. His second novel, The Selfless Act of Breathing, will be published in 2021.

In 2017, JJ attended the World Economic Forum with UNHCR and participated in a Facebook Live with Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett and Iraqi refugee Aya Abdullah. In support of UNHCR advocacy and fundraising events JJ has performed his poetry for high level donors, as well as at UNHCR's World Refugee Day reception at the Palace of Westminster, and at an international conference at the Reykjavik Peace Centre.