West indian literature

Leeds Literature Festival ‘Out Of Many Lit’ will feature Linton Kwesi Johnson and Jamaica Poet Laureate Olive Senior


Award-winning dub poetry pioneer Linton Kwesi Johnson and Poet Laureates Simon Armitage and Olive Senior come to Leeds as part of a five-day literature festival.

The festival, Out of Many Lit, runs from October 4-8 and promises both a celebration and an exploration of Jamaican literature.

It kicks off with Laureate to Laureate, an evening of literary excellence featuring Olive Senior from Jamaica and Simon Armitage from the UK at the Howard Assembly Room on Tuesday, October 4.

It will be chaired by Leeds-based author and academic Jason Allen-Paisant, winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry.

In addition to a packed schedule of events later in the week, Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) will speak with reporter Gary Younge at Howard Assembly Room on Friday, October 7.

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Photo courtesy of Speaking Volumes

LKJ is only the second living poet to have his work (Mi Revalueshanary Fren) included in Penguin’s modern classics, and will read excerpts from his poetry which captured the mood and feelings of black Britain to critical moments while championing the fight against racial injustice and inequality. .

And, in a series of one-day events on Saturday, October 8, Calabash Presents will see Jamaica’s much-loved Calabash International Literary Festival in Leeds instead of Treasure Beach, hosted by Calabash co-founders Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzel.

Emmy Award-winning writer Kwame Dawes will take the stage in conversation with Yvonne Brewster OBE and present a tribute to the late Godmother of Dub Poetry, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, along with a stellar line-up of writers from Jamaican descent;

British fiction: Sara Collins (Confessions of Frannie Langton), Kerry Young (Pao; Gloria), Alex Wheatle (Cane Warriors; Kemosha of the Caribbean), Courttia Newland (A River Called Time; this year in the running for a Clarke Prize).

Poetry: Brits Hannah Lowe (The Kids, Costa Book of the Year 2021) and Raymond Antrobus (To Sweeten Bitter) will be joined by Jamaican Tanya Shirley (The Merchant of Feathers).

Out of Many Lit is part of Jamaica Society Leeds’ Out of Many Festival, a nine-month celebration of Jamaican culture marking 60 years of independence.

Out of Many festival director Susan Pitter said: “It’s exciting to have such high caliber writers in Leeds as part of Out of Many Lit; Jamaican literature should be celebrated and praised and we are delighted to have this opportunity to do so.

Laureate to Laureate is organized in collaboration with the British Library and the National Library of Jamaica, in partnership with the Howard Assembly Room and with the support of Leeds City Council.

“We are thrilled to be involved with Out of Many Lit and look forward to the rich conversations that will undoubtedly emerge from the stellar lineup. This collaboration is a great opportunity for the library to build on our growing schedule of events. culture in Leeds,” said Kenn Taylor, senior culture producer at the British Library.

Poet Laureate of Jamaica Olive Senior – Photo Alex Rice

Beverley Lashley, the National Librarian of Jamaica agrees, saying:

“The National Library of Jamaica fully supports the highly anticipated Laureate to Laureate event that will launch the Out of Many Lit Festival in Leeds, UK. Olive Senior is Jamaica’s third Poet Laureate since our independence and is one of the most important voices in Jamaican/Caribbean poetry. This occasion is particularly important for rekindling ties with our family and friends across the Diaspora, as we celebrate Jamaica’s 60th anniversary. We congratulate the festival organizers and partners and look forward to an exciting program.

Other Out of Many Lit events include a literary brunch and masterclass, Pass it On showcasing young participants’ creative writing responses to conversations with first- and second-generation West Indians, and Kinship, an evening of style. spoken word and music cabaret staged in association with WritersMosaic.

More information visit the Jamaican Society Leeds

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