George Szirtes

Imagining Britain – Southbank Centre

Saturday 2nd May 2015

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An event for holders of a Changing Britain day pass for 2nd May at Southbank Centre: booking & programme details.

To what extent have the various moments of migration to the UK shaped the cultural fabric of the nation? This panel discussion looks at Britain’s post migration through various personal experiences and imagines a future beyond fixed identities and boundaries. This discussion is speech to text transcribed

The panel will include poets George Szirtes and Kayo Chingonyi, writer and historian Andrea Stuart and Sunder Katwala the director of British Future. The host will be the author Tim Finch.

George Szirtes was born in Hungary in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956 aged 8. He has written several collections of poetry – his poetry collection Reel (2004) was awarded the 2004 T.S.Eliot Prize. He has also edited poetry books and written many works of translation. He is also the author of sixteen plays, musicals, opera libretti and oratorios.

Andrea Stuart was born in Barbados and moved to the UK in the mid 1970s aged 14. An acclaimed historian and writer, her most recent book, Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire, tells the story of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean from the 17th century on from the perspective of what Stuart learned about her own family’s experience. The New York Times said of the book: “Much of the fiery magic of this book arises from Stuart’s ability to knit together her imaginative speculations with family research, secondary sources and the work of historians of the region.”

Sunder Katwala is the director of British Future. He has previously worked as a journalist. He was general secretary of the Fabian Society thinktank from 2003 to 2011, and was previously a leading writer and internet editor at the Observer, a research director of the Foreign Policy Centre and commissioning editor for politics and economics at the publisher Macmillan.
Full details  to follow.

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993. He holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Sheffield and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and works as a writer, events producer, and creative writing tutor. His poems have been published in a range of magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Magma, Wasafiri, and in a debut pamphlet entitled Some Bright Elegance (Salt Publishing, 2012).

Tim Finch is the author of The House Of Journalists (“A savagely funny broadside aimed at the industry of suffering” Metro and former Director of Communications at the Refugee Council. He is chair of Counterpoints Arts

Photo of George Szites by Clarissa Upchurch