Shirley May has performed predominately in the North West, nationally and internationally, appearing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York and the Calabash writing festival in Jamaica.
She is the director of Young Identity writing collective, which primarily works with 13-25 years old. Young Identity works in partnership with Contact Theatre. The group has received Lottery Funding to expand into four local communities in the Manchester area. Shirley believes her role is to make both performance and page poetry accessible to young people in Manchester. She has worked for 18 years to promote a culture around performance poetry to make it "cool" and happening by mentoring and supporting new writers in schools and community groups.Shirley and her team of young writers and mentors believe that the voice of young people in writing is as valid as adult writers. She seeks to free "de inna voice."
Her peers are Lemn Sissay, Kei Miller, Kate Tempest, Roger Robinson and Saul Williams. She has worked alongside great names in poetry by offering a platform for their work to be showcased, at events that she has organised. Many of these events can be seen on YouTube such as Speakeasy and One Mic Stand. She's a motivational speaker and through her work she tries to inspire, challenge and give tailored advice to groups and individuals especially around creating personal goals and looking at ways to achieve them by signposting them to groups and organisation with training and development at their heart.