Stephen Fry in conversation with Shappi Khorsandi

Watch again now.
This event took place on: 1 October 2020.
Live from the Union Chapel, London.

In this special event in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Royal Society for Literature, actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry talks to comedian and author Shappi Khorsandi about writing across forms – from sketch comedy to poetry, independently and in collaboration, written and performed – that has elevated him to the status of national treasure.

Stephen grew up in a house with colossal bookcases filled with classic works of literature, and would use them as medicine cabinets to treat his childhood. He has remarked that writing is a ‘newer technology – only five or six thousand years old’ by which ‘we can change utterance into permanence’, and when once asked for writing advice, he responded: ‘the important thing to do for those who want to liberate their writing is to be able to let go of their self-consciousness, to allow the words to write for them.’

Presented in Partnership with the Royal Society of Literature and the British Library. This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network.

Speakers

Stephen Fry

Writer, Actor and Broadcaster

Shappi Khorsandi

Comedian and Author

PEN Pinter Prize: Linton Kwesi Johnson

Watch again now.
This event took place on: 12 October. 19.30 - 20.30. Linton Kwesi Johnson is presented with the 2020 PEN Pinter Prize.

The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature. In memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter, the prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

Linton Kwesi Johnson was chosen by this year’s judges; The Guardian’s Associate Editor for Culture Claire Armitstead; Dialogue Books Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, and author Max Porter. The judges said of Johnson: ‘Linton Kwesi Johnson is a poet, reggae icon, academic and campaigner, whose impact on the cultural landscape over the last half century has been colossal and multi-generational. His political ferocity and his tireless scrutiny of history are truly Pinteresque, as is the humour with which he pursues them.’

The prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty, selected by Linton Kwesi Johnson from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The co-winner will be announced at the event, where they will accept their prize alongside Linton Kwesi Johnson.

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

Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020

Watch again now.
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.

Feedback

From your library to your home

We bring world-class speakers, emerging voices and inspirational debate to public libraries and the people who use them. We livestream compelling cultural events with libraries across the UK, so you can get a front-row seat for free no matter where you live.


As libraries have had to pause public events for now we’ve launched this website to keep bringing you captivating live events for free and showcase the highlights from our events archive. Here we can keep sharing knowledge and encouraging creativity, until we can get together again in person.


More information about the Living Knowledge Network and the British Library can be found here