Symposium and workshop on the elusive concept of freedom, and exploring how we write about it. In-person.
Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square
Jenny Mitchell, award-winning writer and Artist in Association at Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), will facilitate a supportive 3-hour creative writing session in the morning of this day-long event, that looks at how we write about the elusive concept of freedom. What draws us to writing about freedom? What might it offer the writer and reader? Is it particularly important to think about freedom in a world so filled with subjugation, tyranny and chaos?
This is a participatory creative writing session and participants will be given examples of work by established poets to discuss; and prompts to stimulate their own writing.
This is followed by an afternoon symposium that explores questions of care and repair, reflecting on the waiting time between enslavement and emancipation from the perspective of Black British women. Jenny Mitchell offers new poems that retell the story of Jane Eyre from the perspective of a free 19th century woman of colour, questioning the role of servant or caregiver that women of colour are stereotypically forced to inhabit in relation to a dominant white culture that offers little care in return. Poets, historians and literary scholars will discuss the issues the poems raise – relations between Black and white women, freedom, and elongated modes of ‘waiting’, and poetry as a radical form of care and repair.
The symposium is a collaboration between Arts Week, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), and Waiting Times, a Wellcome Trust funded research collaboration that is re-evaluating the relation between time and healthcare in the modern period. The symposium will be followed by a wine reception to celebrate Jenny Mitchell’s role as Artist-in-Association at BiGS, and her new collection of poems.
Participants can book for the whole day, or can attend just one session (either the poetry workshop or the symposium).
Poetry workshop 10am – 1pm
Symposium 2pm – 5pm
Jenny Mitchell is an award-winning poet and workshop facilitator. Her second collection, Map of a Plantation, is winner of the Poetry Book Awards 2021. She won the Bedford International Poetry Prize 2021, the Ware Prize 2020, the Folklore and Aryamati Prizes, a Bread and Roses Award and several other competitions. A debut collection, Her Lost Language, is joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize and was voted One of 44 Books of 2019 (Poetry Wales). She is an Artist in Association at Birkbeck currently working on a pamphlet and third collection.
Roy McFarlane is a Poet, Playwright and former Youth & Community Worker born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage, living in Brighton. He is the National Canal Laureate and has held the role of Birmingham Poet Laureate. His debut collection, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was followed by The Healing Next Time, (Nine Arches Press 2018) nominated for the Ted Hughes award and Jhalak Prize. His third collection Living by Troubled Waters is due out October 2022. It includes a series of erasure poems drawing on narratives of the enslaved across the African diaspora, found in newspapers and posters in England and the Caribbean, post 1807.
Keith Jarrett is a writer, performer and educator whose work explores Caribbean British identity, religion and sexuality. Keith teaches at NYU London and is completing his debut novel.
S.I. Martin works with museums, archives and the education sector to bring diverse histories to wider audiences. He has published five books of historical fiction and non-fiction for adult and teenage readers.
Olivia Carpenter is Lecturer in Literature at the University of York. Her research focuses on Black Studies, Critical Race Theory and literary history. Her recent monograph on Black marriage in domestic fiction in the late 18th and early 19th century gives an account of how the politics of slavery and Abolition influenced the novel as a genre during the height of Abolition struggles in British courts, as well as Black resistance to slavery in both Britain and the colonies.
Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck. She is the Co-Principal Investigator, with Laura Salisbury, of Waiting Times, a Wellcome Trust-funded collaborative award investigating the relation between time and care in the modern period. She has written widely on motherhood, psychoanalysis, time and care.
Kelechi is PhD candidate on the Wellcome-funded Waiting Times project. She is an associate member of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at University of Exeter and a member of the Black Health and Humanities Network. Her project examines time and care in contemporary end-of-life narratives, exploring the relationship between untimeliness, literary form and the politics of health.
This event takes place in-person at Birkbeck’s School of Arts, as part of Arts Week 2022. https://www.bbk.ac.uk/annual-events/arts-week/arts-week/arts-week-2022
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