The three-day, in-person International Black Speculative Writing Festival at Goldsmiths University, London celebrates Black British and international speculative writers from 2-4 February 2024.
International guests include award-winning writer Karen Lord from Barbados and Reynaldo Anderson, co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement and professor at Temple University, USA. UK-based award-winning writers include Leone Ross and Courttia Newland.
Special events include ‘Fassungslos’ (German: ‘disconnected’ or ‘stunned’): new speculative writing from Akila Richards and Claudia Monteith, which uses multiple artforms to produce work that explores the experience of mixed (European/African) heritage people, in partnership with the Black Speculative Arts Movement/Carnegie Hall (USA) Spring season on the Weimar Republic.
The festival includes a symposium: panel sessions throughout the weekend with postgraduate researchers of speculative fiction.
The festival also includes readings from Black speculative writers around the globe including Glimpse: An Anthology of Black British Speculative Fiction, edited by Leone Ross; The Cuckoo Cage: New Origin Stories, edited by Ra Pa (Comma Press): and the winners of The Caine Prize for African Writing 2023, Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo.
The weekend provides resources for writers to develop excellence in this genre and to encourage new readers through discussions, workshops for writers, readings, storytelling, networking, and a top-50 recommended list of books. Family-oriented events include storytelling sessions during the day and an African masquerade performance in the evening.
Partners of the festival include Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations Spread The Word, TLC, Comma Press, Peepal Tree Press, Yaram Arts, New Writing South and Writing East Midlands.
The first International Speculative Writing Festival includes a one-day online festival on 4 February, with priority bookings for people who cannot attend an in-person festival due to distance or disability. Hosted by Sarah Ozo-Irabor, literary critic, blogger and podcaster of ‘Books and Rhymes’ and Writing our Legacy. The online festival is headlined by Sheree Renée Thomas, the first Black editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Festival founder Kadija Sesay commissioned Glimpse, the first Black British speculative fiction anthology for Peepal Tree Press in 2022, which includes ‘The Beard’ by Alinah Azadeh, selected for the Best British Short Stories 2023, published by Salt. Kadija is the co-founder of Mboka Festival of Arts Culture and Sport in The Gambia and has organised other festivals and symposiums over the past 20 years including ‘Word from Africa’ at The British Museum and the Southbank, as the pre-cursor to Africa Writes, and the Sable LitFest in Brixton in 2005 and in The Gambia in 2007. In 2024, she leads the Mboka Festival team to stage GamAfroLatinFest, a Salsa Festival in The Gambia. Kadija’s article on Black speculative fiction appeared in the award-winning Black issue of The Bookseller. She has received fellowships and awards for her work and commitment to the literary field, including an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths University, an Honorary Fellowship from the RSL, and a scholarship-funded PhD in Black British publishing.
The festival is funded by Arts Council England with the support of Prof. Deirdre Osborne and the Dept. of English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University
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