Resisting Self-Censorship, with Elif Shafak, Rachel Long, Jacqueline Woodson and Urvashi Butalia

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This event took place on: 30 September 2020.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resultant global Black Lives Matter protests, it has been clearer than ever before that the voices of some are prioritised to the exclusion of others.

As part of Banned Books Week 2020 – an annual celebration of the freedom to read – the RSL, in partnership with British Library, Index on Censorship and English PEN, brings together a panel of writers who have committed to sharing their stories, to creating without compromise, and to inspiring others to do the same. Rachel Long, Elif Shafak, and Jacqueline Woodson explore what ‘freedom’ means in the culture of traditional publishing, and how writers today can change the future of literature. Chaired by Urvashi Butalia.

This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network.

Bessie Smith: Jackie Kay in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

This event will be available to watch again soon.

The British Library and Faber Social present a celebration of Bessie Smith, pioneering blues singer and one of the biggest stars of the 1920s and 30s.

As a young black girl growing up in Glasgow, writer and poet Jackie Kay found in Bessie someone with whom she could identify and who she could idolise. Kay talks to award winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo about her new book on Bessie's life, which mixes enthralling biography with fiction, poetry and prose.

Plus a selection of Bessie Smith’s songs performed by special guest singer Nona Hendryx, most famously of the group Labelle.

Bessie’s life was as tempestuous as it was extraordinary. Born in Tennessee in 1894 and orphaned by the age of nine, Smith sang on street corners before becoming a big name in travelling shows alongside the likes of Ma Rainey. In 1923 she made her first recording for a new start-up called Columbia Records. It sold 780,000 copies.

Smith’s life was notoriously difficult: she drank pints of ‘bathtub gin’, got into violent fist fights, spent huge sums of money and had passionate love affairs with men and women. She once single-handedly fought off a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Her gorgeous and powerful voice, unapologetic songs and bold personality have been an inspiration to many ever since.

<b>Purchase your copy of Jackie Kay's <i>Bessie Smith</i> <a href="https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/webshop/product/bessie-smith-jackie-kay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a></b>

The Days after Tomorrow: Climate Fiction for the Future

Join us here live: Wednesday 22 September, 16:00 - 17:15.

Can we reimagine our relationship with nature and protect the future? Join the Climate Imagination Fellows, Climate Fiction writers from around the world, to find out. As Glasgow prepares to host the UN Climate Conference (COP26), our panel explores the crucial role of imagination in the fight against climate change. With a special appearance from prize-winning author Amitav Ghosh.

How can we marshal our collective imagination, accelerate the global transformations required by COP26 and move towards a sustainable way of life? How can we get beyond dystopian visions of climate chaos and focus on more positive, equitable and community-led futures?

With roots in science fiction, Climate Fiction or ‘Cl-Fi’ is now expanding across genres and styles from poetry to thrillers and more experimental work. This vital area of contemporary fiction grapples with climate science, art, politics and technology, seeking to reinvent the way we envisage tomorrow. At this special event Climate Imagination Fellows: Libia Brenda, Hannah Onoguwe and Vandana Singh share stories that bring the future into the present. They will reflect on the essential role of storytelling in thinking through the consequences of our collective decisions and charting a path towards the futures we want to build together.

Chaired by journalist, author and cultural commentator Claire Armistead.

Watch the full length interview with Amitav Ghosh <a href="https://youtu.be/CnQiacyQ9Oc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here.</a>

Create your own 'Postcard from the Future' <a href="https://climateimagination.org/postcards-from-the-future/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here.</a>

Find out more about the Centre for Science and the Imagination <a href="https://csi.asu.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here.</a>

Part of the British Library's environment event series, <a href="https://www.bl.uk/events/the-natural-word" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Natural Word</a>, which celebrates the underrepresented voices harnessing the power of imagination to change the world.

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