A tender, brutal yet beautiful memoir that chronicles Machado's experience of an abusive relationship with another woman. Its form cleverly centres various constructed genres/tropes/literary or cinematic modes as versions of their relationship, either representing or in stark contrast with reality as her partner's behaviour becomes more and more cruel. As well as her own story, Machado examines what she calls the 'archival silence' around abuse in same sex relationships, the barriers to female-reported violence and tropes of queer representation in wider culture. Amazingly the abusive relationship has a real outcome that is one of the most ‘fable’ like parts of this memoir. Machado’s exquisite grasp of form and deep psychological insight makes this one of the most exciting books you’ll read in 2020.
Join us as we welcome Sabrina Mahfouz, editor of the new anthology SMASHING IT: WORKING CLASS ARTISTS ON LIFE, ART, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN, for a discussion of the experiences of working class artists with contributor Salena Godden.
Working-class artists continue to be hugely underrepresented in the arts industries, though they make up a third of the British population. These professions are already notoriously hard to get into, but working class artists face extra challenges, from unpaid work reinforcing social disparity, to prejudice. How do we break this cycle of inequality in the arts?
In Smashing It, leading musicians, playwrights, visual artists, filmmakers and writers share how they overcame obstacles, from the financial to the philosophical, to make it in the arts. Edited by acclaimed poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, it celebrates the achievements of working class artists in Britain, from the global takeover of Grime musicians to the literary powerhouses pushing representative narratives, and empowers those who will be a part of tomorrow's cultural landscape.
Includes a guide section on how to make it in the arts, and contributions from Kerry Hudson, DJ Target, Riz Ahmed, Bridget Minamore, Anthony Anaxagorou, Salena Godden, Madani Younis and Bryony Kimmings, among others.
Sabrina Mahfouz is the editor of THE THINGS I WOULD TELL YOU: BRITISH MUSLIM WOMEN WRITE, a 2017 Guardian Book of the Year and the forthcoming SMASHING IT: WORKING CLASS ARTISTS ON LIFE, ART, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN. She has recently been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is the recipient of the 2018 King's Alumni Arts & Culture Award. She has won a Sky Arts Academy Award for Poetry, a Westminster Prize for New Playwrights and a Fringe First Award for her play Chef. Her play With a Little Bit of Luck won the 2019 Best Drama Production at the BBC Radio & Music Awards. She also writes for children and her play Zeraffa Giraffa won a 2018 Off West End Award. She's an essay contributor to the multi-award-winning THE GOOD IMMIGRANT and is currently writing a biopic of the rapper and producer Wiley, for Pulse Films.
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost poets whose electrifying live performances have earned her a devoted following. Her latest poetry collection, PESSIMISM IS FOR LIGHTWEIGHTS, was published by Rough Trade Books in July 2018 in the first Rough Trade Editions series. Her earlier books include the poetry collections UNDER THE PIER and FISHING IN THE AFTERMATH: POEMS 1994-2014, and the literary childhood memoir SPRINGFIELD ROAD (Unbound), and her essay ‘Shade’ was published in the ground breaking essay anthology THE GOOD IMMIGRANT. Her live poetry album LIVEwire was released with indie spoken word label Nymphs and Thugs and was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award.
Join us as we welcome Season Butler and Joanna Pocock to read from and discuss their recent books.
CYGNET by Season Butler
It’s too hot for most of the clothes I packed to come here, when I thought this would only be for a week or two. My mother kissed me with those purple-brown lips of hers and said, we’ll be back, hold tight.
The Kid doesn’t know where her parents are. They left with a promise to come back months ago, and now their seventeen-year-old daughter is stranded on Swan Island.
Swan isn’t just any island; it is home to an eccentric old age separatist community who have shunned life on the mainland for a haven which is rapidly sinking into the ocean. The Kid’s arrival threatens to burst the idyllic bubble that the elderly residents have so carefully constructed – an unwelcome reminder of the life they left behind, and one they want rid of.
Cygnet is the story of a young woman battling against the thrashing waves of loneliness and depression, and how she learns to find hope, laughter and her own voice in a world that’s crumbling around her.
Season Butler is a writer, artist and dramaturg born in Washington, DC. Through her work, she explores her interest in identity and otherness, the opportunities and traps of hindsight and hope, and what it means to look forward to an increasingly wily future. An early draft of Cygnet was shortlisted for the SI Leeds Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian Women. She lives and works between London and Berlin.
SURRENDER by Joanna Pocock
Blending memoir with reportage, criticism with nature writing, Surrender is a narrative non-fiction work on the changing landscape of the American West, inspired by a two-year stay in Montana. At a time of personal crisis, after losing her parents and beginning menopause, Joanna Pocock becomes fascinated with radical environmental movements. She witnesses the annual tribal bison hunt near Yellowstone Park, where she meets a scavenger community honing ancestral skills. She joins Finisia Medrano, a transsexual rewilder, to learn about life on the Hoop. She attends the Ecosex Convergence, an annual gathering of people who place their relationship with the earth above everything else. With Surrender, the winner of the 2018 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, Joanna Pocock offers a provocative and profound examination of life in an era of increasing climatic disruption.
Joanna Pocock is an Irish-Canadian writer living in London. Her essays, reviews, and travel pieces have appeared in Distinctly Montana, Litro, Sunday Independent, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, Orion, Tahoma Literary Review, 3:AM and on the Dark Mountain blog. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Barry Lopez Narrative Nonfiction Prize, and won the 2018 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize for Surrender. She teaches creative writing at the University of the Arts in London and works as a freelance editor for a variety of publishers.