26 Apr 2016 / 7.30pm

Literature and Activism – bringing refugee experiences ‘home’

The refugee ‘crisis’ has dominated the media in recent months and public engagement with the issue has never been higher.  Across TV, radio, newspapers and social media, all aspects of the crisis are exhaustively discussed. So what role if any does literature play in helping to deepen our understanding?

The event will launch a highly anticipated new book, breach, by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, who were commissioned to engage with and bring back “home” the experiences of refugees and migrants in Calais. Coming from his unique poetical perspective will be the multi-talented spoken word artist, Kayo Chingonyi, who is currently doing a residency around the issues of migration.

Hosted by an author and experienced immigration expert, Tim Finch, the event will question whether literature can really move us to act and engage with experiences of refugees. And what can writers add to the efforts of their journalist colleagues.

Drinks will be available from the bar. Kayo will also play a few tunes from his eclectic record collection.

Featured writers include:

Olumide Popoola is a Nigerian German writer. Her publications include poetry and essays, the novella this is not about sadness (2010) and the play Also by Mail (2013). She lives in London, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths.

Annie Holmes is a Zimbabwean writer and film-maker, now London-based. In addition to publishing short fiction, she has co-edited two volumes of oral narratives in the McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series, Underground America and Hope Deferred. Twitter @AnnieHolmesLit

Kayo Chingony is the author of two poetry books, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). He has been widely published in journals and anthologies and has delivered lectures and readings at venues and events around the world. He was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and is currently a resident artist of Royal Holloway, University of London and Counterpoints Arts, engaging with issues around migration and activism.

Tim Finch, author of The House Of Journalists (“A savagely funny broadside aimed at the industry of suffering” Metro “[An] effective mixture of often-light comedy and often-brutal reportage from the front line against tyranny” Daily Mail) and former Director of Communications at the Refugee Council.

Manveen Rana is a journalist for The World At One on BBC Radio 4. Last year, she spent a few months following one Syrian family on their arduous journey from Turkey to their final home in Germany. Along the way they met people smugglers, walked through forests at night, got caught up in riots at the Macedonian border and spent nights sleeping on Serbian streets. Her reports of the family’s journey and their subsequent experiences of trying to forge a future in Frankfurt have been collated in a successful podcast series and a documentary. “A New Life In Europe: The Dhnie Family” has been shortlisted for both the Peabody Awards and the One World Media Awards.

Organised by Counterpoints Arts in collaboration with Peirene Press and Royal Holloway, University of London

Tickets are £6 and can be booked on the Richmix website.


26 Apr 2016