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Watch again now. 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.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 26 October 2020. Emeritus nursing professor Elizabeth Anionwu grew up in care and went on to be named one of the most influential nurses in the history of the NHS. Her career was distinguished by her pioneering work in the understanding of sickle cell disease. Following her retirement she spent nine years fundraising and campaigning for a statue to Mary Seacole. Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881) was a British-Jamaican entrepreneur and nurse whose adventures are related in one of the earliest autobiographies by a mixed-heritage woman. The statue, unveiled in 2016, was the UK’s first statue to represent a named black woman. Elizabeth will be discussing her and Seacole’s lives in this conversation with journalist and broadcaster Shyama Perera. This event celebrates Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights, a UK-wide exhibition by the British Library and public libraries.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 12 October 2020. 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.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 7 October 2020. The murder of George Floyd in the US reverberated around the world. It gave way to an explosion of protest, and a closer examination among historians of the systemic racism in the way the African diaspora is described. Cultural institutions around the world are examining their own legacy within the history of colonialism and imperialism. Join historian David Olusoga in conversation for his personal perspective on how we memorialise, teach and write about racism, and why black British history matters. This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 27 October 2020. Sylvia Pankhurst was born into one of Britain's most famous families but she always carved her own way. As well as a militant campaigner for women's suffrage, she was a gifted artist and orator, a designer, newspaper editor and radical visionary. Her activism landed her in Holloway prison where she was tortured, and her notes from this episode are featured in our upcoming Unfinished Business exhibition. Pankhurst's life of campaigning led her to America, Soviet Russia, Scandinavia, Europe and East Africa. Biographer Rachel Holmes shares her adventures from inside the British Library’s Unfinished Business exhibition space, in conversation with Shami Chakrabarti. This event celebrates Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights, a UK-wide exhibition by the British Library and public libraries.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 25 October 2020. 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.
Watch again now. This event took place on: 10 October 2020. 'What is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversations?' This event has both: live illustration from the multi-award winning writer and illustrator Chris Riddell, conversation and performances of iconic scenes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, like the tea party, by an amazing selection of actors. Passionate Wonderland fan Chris Riddell launches this new edition, a richly illustrated reimagining of the classic children’s story. Watch Chris illustrate characters live and hear him talk about why this book still captivates him today. This event will be filmed on location in the British Library, which holds the original manuscript of Lewis Carroll’s world famous story. Macmillan Children’s Books is presenting this brand new edition in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John Tenniel, the original illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network.