Bernie Grant Arts Centre launches literature festival

A first for Tottenham, the event is set to 'highlight work by black writers and champion diverse children’s literature'

Poet and storyteller Keisha Thompson will perform Man on the Moon

NEXT MONTH, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre is presenting a bold and new festival of words right at the heart of one of London’s most diverse boroughs.

With a packed programme of readings, performance, talks, debates, films and workshops, the Tottenham Literature Festival will highlight work by black writers and champion diverse children’s literature. From poetry and spoken word to memoir and prose, the Tottenham Literature Festival will celebrate the word and storytelling in all its glorious forms. There will be pop up performances, bestselling authors and writing workshops to fire your imagination.

Launched by Hannah Azieb Pool, the new Artistic Director of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre said: ‘The inaugural Tottenham Literature Festival will celebrate the power of literature to transform lives.

“Black communities have a rich history and culture of literature through storytelling, written and spoken word, music and song. It’s an honour to create a space to celebrate and showcase this, here in Tottenham at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre.”

Tottenham Literature Festival Saturdays

During the festival there will be two full Saturdays of literature events for all ages (November 2 & 9).

Attendees will hear from some of the very best black authors as they discuss everything from the power of black hair in literature to the role of poetry in mandem culture.

There will be talks on the joys and challenges of writing about race, gender and class, how writing about love and pleasure can be an act of activism and how black writers, musicians and artists are responding to gentrification.

There will also be writing workshops, a special pop-up book market, children’s activities and a chance to meet established and upcoming writers from Tottenham and beyond, our festival Saturdays will be a celebration of words, rhyme and power.

Festival Highlights

The festival begins on the November 1 with a rare performance of Something Dark, a dramatic reading of the acclaimed one-man play by celebrated performance poet Lemn Sissay. Tied to the launch of Sissay’s bestselling memoir My Name is Why, the performance tells the story of his upbringing in children’s homes and foster care, and the search for his family and true identity.

Poet and storyteller Keisha Thompson will perform Man on the Moon on November 7, using her unconventional relationship with her father, this piece explores the impact that mental health can have on the family dynamic, particularly within the context of the Black British experience.

Lemn Sissay

Confirmed speakers for the Tottenham Literature Festival include Emma Dabiri, author of Don’t Touch My Hair, Victoria Adukwei-Bulley, a poet, writer and filmmaker, and Mary Otumahana, an entrepreneur and rapper who runs The RecordShop – social enterprise in Tottenham.

School’s Day

Bernie Grant Arts Centre also will host five local primary schoolsfor a free day of poetry readings, workshops and storytelling. High calibre authors and writers are lined up to present and work with the children to develop their creative writing and literacy skills.

To find out more about Tottenham Literature Festival events and book tickets, visit:

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