It was a pleasure to chair the reading and Q&A with wonderful writer A. L. Kennedy as part of the Emerald Street Literary festival, 11th June at the Royal Geological Society in London. Many thanks for her tips about fencing with women and how to best walk with a raven on your arm.
The full programme featured talks and readings from authors and organisations including Kate Mosse and the Baileys Prize finalists, Jessie Burton, Caroline Criado-Perez and Marina Lewycka on Britain’s European referendum, Maggie O’Farrell, Kit de Waal, Amy Liptrot and Bryony Gordon, Scarlett Thomas, Laura Barnett and Holly Bourne.
You can buy A. L. Kennedy’s most recent novel, Serious Sweet, here.
Celebrating the release of forthcoming An Unreliable Guide to London, I was very pleased to join Influx Press at the Library Gallery to read an extract from the anthology and discuss London’s fictions, past and present. Quite a thing to sit next to writers M John Harrison (let alone be described as ‘steely-eyed’ by him, as per confluence), Courttia Newland and Yvvette Edwards; many thanks to the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, for all the questions from the audience and to Gary Budden for chairing.
It was good to see my purpureus colleagues Emma Venables, Susan Gray and Ishita Mandrekar for one final performance of prose and poetry as part of Play!, the annual festival celebrating music, theatre, creative writing, film and art from Royal Holloway’s students and staff. This year’s festival theme was ‘Lost & Found Spaces’ and hosted over 30 events take place across campus. Many thanks to the student volunteers for assisting the smooth-running of the festival, and to our receptive audience.
Influx Press will be publishing a collection of my short stories and prose in Spring next year. Please do read the recent post from the London-based independent publishers and treat yourself to a browse of their back catalogue, featuring Darran Anderson‘s Imaginary Cities, Linda Mannheim‘s Above Sugar Hill and Chimène Suleyman‘s poetry collection Outside Looking On.
There was a small announcement in The Bookseller (this William fellow sounds rather pleasant).
It was an absolute privilege to work with poets S J Fowler, Luke Kennard, Zaza Koshkadze and Lia Liqokeli as part of this year’s International Festival of Literature in Tbilisi, Georgia. The full programme can be seen here on the Georgian Writer’s House’s dedicated site; it was a wonderful week of collaboration, reading and exploration. S J Fowler’s account of the trip can be read on his dedicated journal, and some footage of the collaborations can be seen on the Enemies’ project website. Thank you to the Writers’ House on-site angel Davit Gabunia for co-curating, and to the International Literature Showcase Fund and the British Council for their support.
Sandeep Parmar & James Byrne
Carol Watts & George Szirtes
Mark Waldron & Rebecca Perry
Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams
Giovanna Coppola & Clover Peake
Mischa Foster Poole & Chrissy Williams
Julia Lewis & Harry Man
Tasimbaradzwa Kanyangarara & Susie Campbell
Rachel Long & Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
Kathryn Maris & Amy Key
Videos of all the performances can be found on the Enemies’ dedicated blog. The Camarade series began at Rich Mix and I will always be grateful for the collaborations and work that I have been able to encounter at the centre both as audience and participant. Wonderful, too, to have the opportunity to work with Prue Chamberlain again not least because she has a number of new works being published this year. Nice nice nice nice.
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
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/