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.
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.
In the spirit of Something Rhymed, Salena Godden will be joining her literary friend, Maggie Gee, at our first salon. The pair will be discussing the latest VIDA count, which reveals major imbalances at premiere publications.
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost spoken word artists and poets. A regular performer at literary festivals in a career that is now entering its third decade, Salena tops the bill at literary events both nationally and internationally.
She’s appeared as a guest and writer for many BBC Radio programmes including The Verb, Saturday Live, Loose Ends and Fact To Fiction and she has written and presented several arts documentaries and a play for the BBC too. Burning Eye Books published her first full collectionFishing In The Aftermath: Poems 1994 – 2014, marking twenty years of poetry and performance, with the majority of the work included previously unpublished in book form. Her literary childhood memoir Springfield Road was successfully crowd funded and published with Unbound Books in 2014.
Widely recognised as a trailblazer for fellow performers, Salena has also dedicated herself to mentoring newcomers to the scene. Her voice is distinctive and unique, her performances are electrifying, hilarious, intensely powerful and full of warmth.
New Book News
• Various poems by Salena Godden will be published in ‘Untitled Two‘ The Neu Reekie anthology. Published by Polygon Books and Neu Reekie, publication date, May 1st 2016
• Short Story ‘The Camden Blood Thieves’ by Salena Godden will be published in The Unreliable Guide to London – a collection of London short fiction, published with Influx Press, launched July 18th 2016
• Commissioned essay ‘Shade’ by Salena Godden will be included in ‘The Good Immigrant’ / Twenty-one authors writing about what it means to be BAME in the UK in 2016, edited by Nikesh Shukla, published by Unbound Books and released September 22nd 2016
‘Salena Godden is a powerhouse.’ Sabotage Reviews
‘Godden writes about a past that is at once deeply personal yet also belongs to the everyman figure; her descriptions of childhood are timeless.’ The Literateur
‘Her writing is urgent and detailed, colourful and clamorous. Like all love stories, her memoir is intense and intimate.’ The Times
“Salena Godden is an absolute master of, knowing your assumptions, playing to them, and then flipping them completely.” Write Out Loud
“Salena Godden follows up her recent poetry anthology with a lyrical and witty memoir painting a portrait of the artist as a young girl. Springfield Road tells the wide-eyed tale of Godden’s childhood as the daughter of a jazz musician and a go-go dancer set against the lovingly rendered backdrop of 1970s Hastings. Springfield Road’s prose wavers effortlessly throughout, from tender poignancy to raw, gritty realism and this lovely book serves to remind us that however much the world has changed in the last forty years, in many ways it is still exactly the same.” Loud and Quiet Magazine
We are delighted to welcome Harriett Gilbert to Something Rhymed’s first literary salon on Thursday April 28th at New York University London, 6.30pm.
The salons are aimed at writers, reviewers, bloggers, editors, journalists, agents and others who work in the literary industries or who are simply interested in this topic.
You are invited! Come alone, or, in the spirit of SomethingRhymed.com, you might want to invite a literary friend. Either way, please do join us for drinks and fruitful conversation. To get your name on the guest list, please email SomethingRhymed@gmail.com.
Harriett Gilbert presents A Good Read on Radio 4 and World Book Club on the BBC World Service.
She began writing fiction in her twenties, when she was not long out of drama college and had just been touring the primary schools of England with an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories; she played the Mother Elephant. It was winter; the only job on offer was a small part in an Agatha Christie one-acter, for no pay. She owned an Olivetti portable. Authorship suddenly seemed attractive.
Since then, she’s published six novels, including Hotels with Empty Rooms and The Riding Mistress. In 2004 she founded the MA in Creative Writing (Novels) at City University London, and was course director for four years.
For many years Harriett also worked for the press, reviewing and writing about books and authors for Time Out magazine before becoming literary editor of the New Statesman. She’s published non-fiction books on journalism, feminism and sexuality.
Since the early 1990s she’s presented arts programmes for the BBC, including interviewing a wide range of authors: from Toni Morrison to Marian Keyes, Doris Lessing to Malorie Blackman, Arundhati Roy to PD James