Posts in Literary events

On the wall at Foyles

An interesting thing happened to me this week. I ended up being featured in a photography exhibition at Foyles bookshop in central London. Before you ask – no, I haven’t suddenly developed a talent for the visual arts. I remain, as I always have been, pretty much visually illiterate. It’s actually one of my short stories that’s being hung on the wall, or at least an extract from it. It’s part of the photography/writing collaboration that I’ve written about on here before. The literary art book, Still, is being launched… Read More

Sophie Blackall at the Brooklyn Public Library

Like any nosy New Yorker, I first encountered Sophie Blackall on the subway. I most often ride the F line, and found myself pleasantly surprised one day by the depth of feeling in the illustrations above me. Blackall is a children’s book author, born in Australia but currently based in Brooklyn, and would likely not mind the neat line one might draw between her and Maurice Sendak.

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Book fairs are dangerous

Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned? Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales? Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were… Read More

Test of stamina at Bim Literary Festival, day two

Wow. That was intense. Three hours on a hard bench listening to poetry readings with no break and no refreshments. That’s a real test. Luckily it was an open-air event, on the boardwalk at Hastings (the Barbados one, not the UK one). It was easy to get up and stretch your legs occasionally, and the view helped. The occasion was an event called Bim Rock Variations, part of the inaugural Bim Literary Festival. (By the way, I should have mentioned earlier that “Bim” is an informal name that Barbadians use… Read More

Earl Lovelace at Bim Literary Festival

Trinidadian writer Earl Lovelace was the second attraction last night at Bim Literary Festival. For my report on the first part of the evening, with Austin Clarke, click here. Lovelace was asked about the themes of his writing and spoke about the search for selfhood, both on an individual and a societal level. He said that people in the Caribbean don’t always respect the abilities of ordinary people. We still look to ‘best practice’ of other people to tell us what to do. Not only are ordinary people not acknowledged,… Read More

Austin Clarke at Bim Literary Festival

After my unintended gatecrashing of a class with Derek Walcott earlier in the day, this was an event I was actually allowed to attend. It was an interview with two major Caribbean writers, Austin Clarke and Earl Lovelace, followed by readings from their latest work. First up was Austin Clarke, a Barbadian novelist and short-story writer who has lived for most of his life in Canada. He named George Lamming’s Pleasures of Exile as his favourite Barbadian book, and the short story collection There are no Elders as his favourite of… Read More

Learning from Derek Walcott: Bim Literary Festival, day one

How often do you get to meet a Nobel Prize winner? That was my main rationale for going along to a Master Class with Derek Walcott yesterday – that and the prospect of seeing Earl Lovelace and Austin Clarke afterwards. The occasion was the inaugural Bim Literary Festival, a celebration of writers both from here in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean. The event with Derek Walcott wasn’t quite what I’d expected. It turned out to be a workshop for poets, who had registered in advance and submitted manuscripts to be… Read More

Great opportunity for unpublished UK writers

If you are an unpublished UK writer with a novel manuscript ready for submission, I’d strongly recommend that you check out the Luke Bitmead Bursary. Submissions for the 2012 contest are open from now until 3rd August. It’s for UK residents only. This is the contest I entered back in 2008 and, to my amazement, won. Everything that’s happened in my career since then has been a result of entering that contest, so please give yourself a chance and go for it. I was the first winner, and since then… Read More

The future of book talks

There was a time, way back in 2011, when a book event used to consist of an author standing in a dusty library or bookshop and droning on about himself and his work, followed by a book signing and a free glass of cheap red wine. No longer. I have seen the future, and the future is digital. The Background A few weeks ago I gave a talk on the art of effective story-telling to an audience of BP marketing executives gathered in some corporate venue in London. The hosts, from… Read More