Please meet Varaidzo, the final speaker in this Thursday’s line-up. We’re really looking forward to her thoughts on how best to accelerate gender equality in the literary world.
We still have a few spots left, so please do join in the conversation by emailing us on SomethingRhymed@gmail.com to make one of them yours.
Varaidzo is a writer, editor and film programmer with a focus on storytelling through fiction, journalism and film. She is an editor at gal-dem.com, an online media platform produced by women of colour, and curates the gal-dem Winter Film Festival which showcases work solely by women of colour filmmakers. As a speaker, she regularly advises film and publishing organisations on how to engage young people and ethnic minorities with media industries. Her writing has appeared in Media Diversified and New Statesman, and her forthcoming essay on navigating black childhood in white spaces will be published in The Good Immigrant(September, 2016)
Melanie Abrahams, founder of an events company dedicated to diversity in the arts, will be joining us this Thursday at the third and final Something Rhymed salon. Here we will ask whether it is possible to achieve genuine change in the UK literary scene by attempting to use the master’s tools, as Audre Lorde put it, to dismantle the master’s house.
If you’d like to hear Melanie’s ideas for accelerating positive change and also share your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book one of the last spots.
Melanie Abrahams is a curator, producer and speaker, who has channeled a love of books and words into projects and escapades. She has curated events and festivals both independently, and through her companies Renaissance One and Tilt, for the Bluecoat, Chris Ofili, Miami Book Fair International and Southbank Centre. As a literature producer, she has shaped poetry videos for BBC’s The Space with Chris Redmond, and has toured with writers including Ali Smith, Amiri Baraka, Patience Agbabi and Caryl Phillips. This year she partners with the British Library to present London Is The Place For Me, a Caribbean festival of literature and liming, as part of a wider project exploring the theme of independence, and contributes fifty one-to-ones, and supporting public events, to writers and practitioners around England.
Here at Something Rhymed, we take any opportunity to celebrate female literary friendship. It is therefore with great pleasure that we welcome Louise Doughty, a dear novelist friend of Jill Dawson, to our third and final salon.
Longstanding readers will already know about Jill’s bond with the Australian writer, Kathryn Heyman, because this pair kicked off our guest blog series back in 2014. Similarly, Louise blogged for us with one of her old friends, Jacqui Lofthouse.
We’ll look forward to seeing Jill and Louise together this coming Thursday, May 12th, and to hearing their ideas for achieving greater diversity in the literary world.
Louise Doughty’s eighth novel, Black Water, will be published on 2nd June. Her most recent book was the top ten bestseller Apple Tree Yard, published in 2013 by Faber & Faber UK and Farrar Straus & Giroux New York. It was longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize, shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger Award and the National Book Award Thriller of the Year and is published or being translated into twenty-seven languages worldwide. A four-part BBC1 adaptation is currently in production with Emily Watson in the lead role. Doughty’s sixth novel, Whatever You Love, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has also won awards for radio drama and short stories, along with publishing one work of non-fiction, A Novel in a Year, based on her popular newspaper column. She is a critic and cultural commentator for UK and international newspapers and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.
We are delighted to welcome award-winning novelist, Jill Dawson, to our third and final salon in this series. Jill will be helping us to come up with strategies for improving diversity in the literary world.
Jill Dawson is the author of nine novels and winner of an Eric Gregory Award for poetry. Fred and Edie, her third novel, published in 2001, was shortlisted for the Orange and Whitbread prizes and voted ‘one of fifty essential novels by a living author’. The Great Lover, about the poet Rupert Brooke, was a best-seller and Richard and Judy book-club choice. Her seventh novel, Lucky Bunny, won a Fiction Uncovered award. The Tell-Tale Heart was nominated for the Folio Prize. Her latest, about the writer Patricia Highsmith, is The Crime Writer, to be published 2016. In addition Jill is a tutor of creative writing, credited with bringing many new writers to publication through the one to one mentoring scheme she set up, Gold Dust (www.gold-dust.org.uk).
Please join Jill and us this coming Thursday for drinks, snacks and fruitful conversation.
We had another full house last night at our second Something Rhymed Salon, when we talked about the devaluing of so-called women’s issues. Our speakers fed us a gloriously varied platter of food for the mind, and the conversation continued over madeleines, sparkling water and plenty of wine.
Arifa Akbar is a journalist and literary critic. She is the former literary editor of The Independent, where she worked from October 2001 until April 2016, as a reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009.
She was a judge for the Orwell Prize in 2013, the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2014, and the British Book Industry Award in 2016.
Arifa has chaired author interviews at the London Literature Festival, Foyles, Asia House and the Bath Literature Festival.
She is a regular newspaper reviewer on Sky News, and reviews books in print and on radio. She studied English Literature at university and then completed a Masters in Gender Studies, specialising in French Feminism and ‘writing the body’.
We are honoured that Michèle Roberts has agreed to speak about the devaluing of so-called ‘women’s issues’ at tomorrow’s Something Rhymed salon.
Female friendship is at the heart of her writing and feminism – something she reflected on with her own literary friend, Sarah LeFanu, in September’s guest post.
Michèle Roberts has published over twenty books: novels, poetry, essays, memoir, artist’s books. She is Professor Emeritus at the University of East Anglia, a Chavalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her latest publication, with Jenny Newman and Sarah LeFanu, is The Lille Diaries. She currently teaches a Guardian Masterclass (mistressclass?) on novel-writing.
We are delighted that Sarah LeFanu has agreed to share her wealth of experience with us at the Arts Council sponsored Something Rhymed salon on May 4th. It will be a particular delight to meet Sarah since we were so captivated by the thoughts on female literary friendship that she explored in her guest post last year.
Sarah LeFanu was an editor at The Women’s Press for ten years, and was responsible for their ground-breaking feminist science fiction list. She has edited seven anthologies of original stories (including three all-women anthologies), and her books include Rose Macaulay: A Biography and its companion volume, Dreaming of Rose: A Biographer’s Journal. For six years (2003 – 2009) she was Artistic Director of the Bath Literature Festival, where she consistently promoted women writers.
If you would like to join Sarah LeFanu, Karen Maitland, Arifa Akbar and Michele Roberts to discuss the problem of gender inequality in the literary world, do email us at SomethingRhgymed@gmail.com.
The first Something Rhymed salon was full of informed discussion and spirited debate, all washed down with great wine and plentiful supplies of madeleines. Guests came alone or accompanied by old friends, and plenty a new friendship was forged.
Our panellists gave candid accounts of their thoughts on the latest VIDA count, which shows the continuing lack of gender parity across the literary pages. And they provided us with behind-the-scenes glimpses of the gender issues they’ve confronted during their careers in the media and publishing.
We will keep track of the suggestions for accelerating change that crop up during this salon series, and we’ll post a list on the site. If you have any ideas, please do share them by using the comments facility and we’ll make sure to include them in our roundup.
Our second salon is fast approaching, and we have an equally stellar line-up of guests. This Wednesday, you can meet journalist and literary critic, Arifa Akbar; biographer and former senior editor at The Women’s Press, Sarah LeFanu; bestselling author, Karen Maitland; and Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Michèle Roberts.
Introducing the final guest in Thursday’s line up: Michael Caines.
Michael works at the Times Literary Supplement. He has edited an anthology of plays by eighteenth-century women, and written a book about Shakespeare and the eighteenth century. He is currently working on a very short book about the failings of literary prizes. Perhaps he’ll reveal more on Thursday!
Something Rhymed is keen to include both men and women in the conversation about gender equality, and, in order for the salons to be more than just talking shops, it’s crucial that we have panellists who have associations with some of the publications that appear to come out poorly from the VIDA survey.
Emily Midorikawa will be hosting this salon at New York University London, and I will be chairing the discussion between Michael Caines, Maggie Gee, Harriett Gilbert and Salena Godden.
Please join them and us this Thursday for drinks, snacks and fruitful conversation.