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Major black writers programme to launch in Bristol

PATRON: Professor Lorna Goodison

A NEW national programme of talks by black writers is set to be launched in Bristol.

The programme, called Yardstick, aims to bring together writers from the African Diaspora and readers in a series of events throughout the city. It is also aiming to further support the professional development of black and minority ethnic writers.

Yardstick is funded by Arts Council England and is supported by Bristol Libraries, Bath and North East Somerset Library Service and City Chameleon Ltd, a Bristol-based publishing company. Professor Lorna Goodison, one of the foremost contemporary poets to have emerged from the Caribbean, is its first patron. 

The programme will also explore tie-ins with African Diaspora-themed events such as St Paul’s Carnival and the Afrika Eye film festival.

It takes place in a year when both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago will be celebrating 50 years of independence - an important milestone for many residents of Bristol and Bath. If the event proves a success, organisers plan to hold a festival of African Diaspora literature in Bristol and Bath in 2013.

Kate Murray, head of Bristol Libraries, said: “In recent years our black author talks, such as an evening with Gary Younge last October, have been attracting bigger audiences, which are often younger and more diverse than audiences attending our traditional literary events."

"Thanks to our partnership with Bath Libraries and Arts Council England, we are looking beyond one-off events towards greater participation and collaboration with African and African- Caribbean writers and readers from across all communities interested in African Diaspora themes, and the social and cultural experience of black British people in particular," she added.

Bertel Martin, director at City Chameleon, commented: “Yardstick is an example of the type of work a 21st century library can do; encouraging readers and authors to meet, discuss and talk about literature."

Martin added: “This is the kind of project and interaction that will keep literature alive and relevant to modern living."

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