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Bessie Smith: Jackie Kay in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

Watch again now This event took place on Thursday 31st March 2021 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>

PEN Pinter Prize 2021: Tsitsi Dangarembga

Watch again now This event took place on Monday 11th Oct 2021 (19:30 - 20:30) Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga receives the prestigious 2021 PEN Pinter Prize and delivers her keynote address at a ceremony hosted by British Library and English PEN. This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network. Watch last year's PEN Pinter Prize ceremony awarding Linton Kwesi Johnson <a href="http://living-knowledge-network.co.uk/library/pen-pinter-prize-linton-kwesi-johnson" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>. 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, the Commonwealth or former 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’. Tsitsi Dangarembga was chosen by this year’s judges: The Guardian’s Associate Editor for Culture Claire Armitstead; literary critic and Editor-at-large for Canongate, Ellah P Wakatama, and poet Andrew McMillan. 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. The co-winner, selected by Tsitsi Dangarembga from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN, is announced at the event. This year's award ceremony is part of Common Currency, a year-long celebration of freedom of expression, creative campaigning, and the best literature the world has to offer to mark English PEN's centenary year. For more information visit: englishpen.org/commoncurrency The PEN Pinter Prize is supported by the generosity of Ruth Maxted and The Blavatnik Family Foundation.

James Baldwin's America and its Urgent Lessons for Today

Watch again now This event took place on Tuesday 23rd February 2021 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>