Ships at a Distance: Zora Neale Hurston

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This event took place on: 28 October 2020.

‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer.’ – Zora Neale Hurston

Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, Zora Neale Hurston published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays. Today, her work unites readers across the world, yet she died penniless, buried in an unmarked grave.

Black Girl’s Book Club co-founders Natalie Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry – who cite Neale Hurston as the ‘the patron saint of Black women’ – chair a conversation with poets Jackie Kay and Salena Godden about Hurston’s writing life, and how she has become regarded one of the most significant Black woman writers of the 20th century.

Presented in association with the Royal Society of Literature. This event celebrates Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights, a UK-wide exhibition by the British Library and public libraries.

Bessie Smith: Jackie Kay in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

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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>

James Baldwin's America and its Urgent Lessons for Today

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With Eddie S Glaude Jr. A searing indictment of racial injustice in America, inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr of Princeton University follows the increasingly politicised journey of 'the poet of the revolution' James Baldwin, in the years from The Fire Next Time in 1963 to No Name in the Street in 1972. This was the time of the Civil Rights Movement, when attempts to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his new book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Today, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance for our own times, a new era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Mixing biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to bring about a more just future.

Glaude will be in conversation with Rob Berkeley.

Click here to purchase <a href="https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/webshop/product/begin-again-james-baldwins-america-and-its-urgent-lessons-for-today-eddie-s-glaude-jr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><b>Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today<b></b></a>

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