World Book Night is an annual event to promote links between literacy and well-being, organised by The Reading Agency. I was delighted to turn up for a nocturnal stint at Goldsmiths in support the campaign as part of an evening that featured from staff and students from the university’s Black British Writing MA, current Creative Writing MA students as curated by LitLive, and performances by Iphgenia Baal and Julia Calver with The Literary Kitchen.  My thanks to Andrea Mason for the opportunity, and for the team at Goldsmiths’ Library for all their hard work.

In April I was lucky enough to participate in ‘Drawing Breath’, an evening of live reading and art. To take the wording from its website (from which the pictures above are taken, shot by Karoliina Helosuo), the project set out to ‘stage an encounter between spoken and visual language through a set of simultaneous performances’; without any prior introduction, and with each reading lasting only five minutes, an artist would respond in real-time to a writer’s performed text in front of the audience. Nik Nightingale was the artist I was paired with: his beautiful response to my piece can be seen above!

Other writer-artist pairings on the night include Daisy Thurston-Gent & Zeel, Ella Frears & Aurélie Freoua, Lisa Luxx & Spike Zephaniah Stephenson, Patrick Cash & Paola Pinna, Matt Martin & Claudia Juhre, Becky Moses & Sebastian T. Sjöstrand, Andrew Wells & Sarah Dawson, Francis Byrne & Helen Wyatt, Keleigh Wolf & Valerie Pezeron, Tim Kiely & Francis Byrne & Spike Z. Stephenson

Many thanks to curator Iris Colomb, host Zorro Maplestone and to the Ziferblat space.


Roles, Playing #3


Pleased to have worked with Prof. Adam Roberts this academic year, teaching Children’s Literature with brilliant third-year undergraduates at Royal Holloway, University of London.


I was honoured to write and read as part of English PEN Writers at Risk‘s literary festival in London this April. It was a full day in solidarity with the work that PEN seeks to achieve – defending and promoting freedom of expression, and specifically campaigning on behalf of oppressed writers throughout the world.

I was writing directly in response to the writer Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan activist, essayist and poet who has faced house-arrest and censorship. She is incredible. Some of her articles can be found here and here.


The full schedule was as follows:

Harry Man on Maung Saung Kha
David Berridge on Dawit Isaak
Kirsten Irving on Nurmuhemmet Yasin
Jen Calleja on Gao Yu
SJ Fowler on Khadija Ismayilova
Dave Spittle on Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury
Prudence Chamberlain on Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkhong
Robert Hampson on Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace
Adam Baron on Can Dündar and Erdem Gül
Andrew McMillan on Ashraf Fayadh
Eley Williams on Tsering Woeser
Sam Winston (with Jamie Perera) on Zunar
Lucy Harvest Clarke on Liu Xia
Stephen Emmerson on Dina Meza
Alex MacDonald on Alaa Abd El Fattah
Drew Milne on Omar Hazek
Oli Hazzard on Enoh Meyomesse
Caleb Klaces on Jorge Olivera Castillo
Tim Atkins on Liu Xiaobo
Caroline Bergvall on Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor
Emily Critchley on Mahvash Sabet
Andra Simons on Amanuel Asrat
Sarah Kelly on Nelson Aguilera
Allen Fisher on Mamadali Makhmudov
Nathan Walker on Mohammed al-‘Ajami
Michael Zand on U Zeya
Mark Waldron on Zhu Yufu
Mark Ravenhill on Mazen Darwish and Yara Bader
Emily Berry on Raif Badawi

Co-curator S J Fowler gave an excellent and important account of the day here, which includes videos of the performances, while the official PEN blog can be found here. Many thanks to Cat Lucas at PEN for her dedication and hard work; please do consider reading more about PEN’s work and what membership might mean for their organisation: https://www.englishpen.org/


Images and video courtesy of PEN America, and the Enemies Project.