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UK’s First Lit Festival for Writers of Colour – 26-28 Feb

This February a new festival is set to change the UK literary landscape: Bare Lit, the country’s first literature festival devoted wholly to BAME authors.

Organised by Media Diversified , Bare Lit seeks to celebrate the work and achievements of BAME literary voices in the UK.

The twoday festival, which takes place 2628 February in London, offers a lineup of established and new international authors, including novelist Xiaolu Guo, poet Jane Yeh, London’s Young Poet Laureate Selina Nwulu, journalist and fiction author Robin YassinKassab, and many more.

Events focus on addressing the question of what it means to be a writer of colour in the 21 st century, with performances, panels and conversations such as the signature events “SecondGeneration Poets in Exile” , “What Does Liberation in Literature Look Like?” and “Rewriting Pasts & Futures” . Realtime social media coverage of all events will be provided to widen access to the discussions.

In a discussion titled ‘What Lies Ahead for Publishing?’ industry professionals from specialist publishers including Jacaranda and Darf Publishers will discuss their work, what they look for when seeking new talent, and their visions of what lies ahead, in a discussion facilitated by the founder of The Jeli, Esther Kuforji. Event will take place at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, on Sunday 28 February.

liberationliteratureBare Lit’s racially and globally conscious ethos is in part a reaction to the overwhelmingly homogenous view of contemporary writing presented by UK literary festivals. In 2014, only 4% of the 2000plus authors featured at the UK’s three largest literary festivals came from BAME backgrounds? the other 96% were white.

The creation of Bare Lit is a step toward empowering voices that are so often absent in the literary mainstream. As one of the organisers of Bare Lit Festival Mend Mariwany states, “We can focus on making mainstream festivals more ‘diverse’ or we can create something magical of our own.”

Festival guests have spoken out emphasising the importance of a festival that celebrates authors of colour. “It’s about stories coming from traditions, dynamics and history which the gatekeepers ignore”, says novelist Leila Aboulela .

SFF and historical fantasy author Zen Cho concurs: “As a writer who’s neither white nor British I’m used to sticking out at conventions and publishing events. The stories that fill our heads should reflect the richness and diversity of the world around us. I’m excited to be part of a festival that’s trying to encourage that.”

Likewise, memoirist, essayist and fiction author Haris Durrani says, “In this increasingly volatile sociopolitical climate, we need stories not only written about men and women of colour, but most importantly by men and women of colour. Bare Lit is one of the few venues out there that is both a platform for readers to see the wonderful work being done by writers of colour and a support structure for those writers to share their stories. This is not merely important work it’s necessary.”

Bare Lit is the latest of many projects undertaken by Media Diversified to promote the voices of people of colour. The nonprofit advocacy organisation’s previous projects include setting up an independent online publishing platform for BAME writers? hosting the live #AllBlackEverything day of discussions and workshops on Black British experiences? and creating the groundbreaking Experts Directory, which enables media outlets to immediately access a comprehensive database of BAME experts from a wide range of professional fields.

In a discussion titled ‘What Lies Ahead for Publishing?’ industry professionals from specialist publishers including Jacaranda and Darf Publishers will discuss their work, what they look for when seeking new talent, and their visions of what lies ahead, in a discussion facilitated by the founder of The Jeli, Esther Kuforji. Event will take place at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, on Sunday 28 February.