Ships at a Distance: Zora Neale Hurston

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This event took place on: 28 October, 19.00.

‘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.

Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020

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This event took place on: 25 October. 15.00 - 16.30.

The Forward Prizes rank among the year’s great literary celebrations: this event is unmissable for anyone interested in the best new poetry published today. Hear poems from each of the 15 shortlisted poets and find out who has won the most coveted poetry prizes in the British Isles.

Shortlist for Best Collection: £10,000
Caroline Bird, Natalie Diaz, Vicki Feaver, David Morley, Pascale Petit

Shortlist for Best First Collection: £5,000
Ella Frears, Will Harris, Rachel Long, Nina Mingya Powles, Martha Sprackland

Shortlist for Best Single Poem: £1,000
Fiona Benson, Malika Booker, Regi Claire, Valzhyna Mort, Sarah Tsiang

Poems of desire – for a voice, for breathing space, for bodies missed or missing – are a recurring theme in this year’s shortlists. They celebrate a world whose inhabitants are spurred to song by the need to assert their own existence and history. They speak of flesh, muscle and all forms of touch, from the knock-out blows of boxer Tyson Fury to lovers’ kisses.

Several poets follow threads of language to places as various as the Dale Farm traveller site, a palace-prison in 16th-century Spain, an East London housing estate and the Mojave reservation of southern California, while others make vivid the stuff of everyday life: birdsong, lawnmowers, petrol stations.

The Forward Prizes judges, Alexandra Harris, Kim Moore, Roger Robinson, David Wheatley and Leaf Arbuthnot read over 208 poetry collections, and 205 single poems entered from journals, to find the most exciting poetry published across the UK and Ireland.

The Prizes, sponsored since 1992 by Bookmark, the global content marketing and communications agency, have a reputation for heralding fresh new voices as well as honouring famous names. Shortlisted and commended poems are brought together in the annual Forward Book of Poetry anthologies.

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

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