Rounke Coker reads at Writing Our Legacy/Afrikaba event, Hastings Museum

This Friday, Nigerian storyteller Rounke Coker delighted us with this story, set in Lagos, about a main character’s brother who has a strange fascination with insects, animals and particularly a pet crocodile. The story is rich in detail, aliveness and a visceral sense of language – as well as being plain damn funny.

The evening’s reading was set in the captivating Hastings Museum – a place highly recommended for a visit. The event, partnered with local African festival of arts and culture, Afrikaba, also featured Kent poet superstar Patience Agbabi, who is on the brink of publication for new work, tentatively titled Canterbury Remix….watch this space. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy this incredible story from Rounke, who we are sure to hear again at future readings in Sussex (14 October, Nightingale Theatre)….and read in print very soon.

Rounke Coker  – Friday 5 October, Hastings Museum – Part 1

Rounke Coker – Friday 5 October, Hastings Museum – Part 2

WRITE: One-day writers’ retreat with Umi Sinha, Brighton Museum, Saturday 3 November

Umi Sinha, creative writing teacher

Writers, step away from families and day jobs, and come spend a day giving your creative writing the time it needs. You could be working on a short or long project – or perhaps you just want to get back into writing after a few years break.

Whatever your background or experience, come enjoy this one-day writers’ retreat on Saturday 3 November. The workshop retreat is led by creative writing tutor Umi Sinha, who has taught autobiography and fiction writing at Sussex University for 10 years.

Umi will give you a chance to explore the theme ‘history of ourselves’, but the workshop will also give you plenty of time for writing.

10.30am-4pm, Brighton Museum. Course: £20 including lunch and refreshments. Advance booking from

Umi Sinha has a BA in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. She has worked as a freelance editor for Orient-Longman in Bombay, has written comic books for children based on Indian history and mythology in the Amar Chitra Katha series, and has had short stories published in magazines and in a Serpents Tail anthology (Getting Even : Revenge Stories, 2007). She taught autobiography and fiction writing at the University of Sussex for ten years, teaches open courses in fiction writing and runs a private literary consultancy and editing service. Her recently completed first novel is currently with the Ed Victor Literary Agency.

Try out spoken word performance with Roy Hutchins

PHD performance at Writing Our Legacy showcase, 2010. Photograph: Paul Jackson

New and experienced writers will have their chance to try out spoken word performance with the Roy Hutchins, from partner Brainfruit

Draw out that inner live lit performer in an afternoon workshop at Brighton Museum.

This workshop promises to be fun, collaborative, inspiring, engaging and accessible.

Roy will take you through a practical step-by-step approach to performing before a live audience, and will help you develop a method for gaining confidence and skills to read your work.

Saturday 13 October, 1.30-4pm. Workshop £5/3. Advance booking from

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INSPIRE: New Voices – a night of new writing at Nightingale Theatre – Sunday 14 October

INSPIRE: New Voices – a night of new writing at Nightingale Theatre – Sunday 14 October

Akila doing a laptop reading in the car park at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, Brighton

On Sunday 14 October, 7 Sussex authors will take centre stage at the Nightingale Theatre in Brighton with a new work evening called New Voices.

The night presents an exciting range of writing that’s on the cusp of publication and on the cutting-edge of new writing.

Confirmed writers include

  • Neela Masani
  • Akila
  • Stephanie Lam
  • Rounke Coker
  • Jenny Aburra
  • Olusha–Femi  Hughes
  • Irene Mensah

Catch these up-and-coming authors before they’re big!

7-9pm (doors open 6.30pm), Nightingale Theatre, 29-30 Surrey Street  City Centre BN1 3PA. Tickets £5 advance from

INSPIRE: Asian Voices – Saturday 20 October – Umi Sinha, Sonya Roy, Chattri Group – Crawley Library

Photo courtesy of

INSPIRE: Asian Voices is an evening of writing inspired by the historic Brighton Pavilion and India.

The night explores connections made during World War I, when Hindu, Muslim and Sikh Indian soldiers were treated at the Brighton Pavilion, a make-shift hospital, as well as the wider connections between India and England.

There will be  a short dramatic reading of a play from emerging Asian LGBT playwright Sonya Roy called “Through the Flames” by two Asian actors, who will bring the play to life.

Photo courtesy of

The night will also feature a talk about the Indian soldiers stay in Brighton and their now famous letters home from the Sussex Chattri group.

Lastly, writer and creative writing tutor Umi Sinha will read from her new historical novel in progress about Indian soldiers – and reflect on the relationship of her Indian heritage and the relationship with this place England we call home.

Presented in partnership with the Crawley Black History Month group.

INSPIRE: Asian Voices takes place on Saturday 20 October, 7.30-9pm (doors 7pm). Crawley Library, Southgate Avenue  Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6HG.  Tickets £5 advance from

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BME superheroes to the rescue!

On Wednesday 10 October, children aged 5-12 can join James Parsons from Crazy Comic Club to create BME cartoon superheroes in this 90-minute workshop.

During the workshop we will be looking at examples of BME superheroes from popular comics, and investigating whether their ethnicity brings anything special to their personality and powers. We will cover all the ingredients that are necessary to make a superhero, and design our own awesome character whose costume, powers, and aims and objectives may reflect their culture. James will be on hand to provide expert drawing advice, and together we will create a new team of heroes in a mixture of pens, dipping pens, and ink – the tools of the professionals.

4pm, Brighthelm Centre, Brighton. Course: £3/2 advance from

INSPIRE Friday 5 October – Patience Agbabi, Rounke Coker – Hastings Museum 7.30pm

INSPIRE Friday 5 October – Patience Agbabi, Rounke Coker – Hastings Museum 7.30pm

Our season kicks off on Friday 5 October with the country’s hottest poet Patience Agbabi from Canterbury reading alongside Nigerian storyteller Rounke Coker at Hastings Museum. Both explore their histories in a unique way, one influenced by Nigeria, the other by Chaucer and the love of the English language.

Presented in partnership with AfriKaBa. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Advance tickets £5 – to book, phone Hastings Museum. Phone:01424 451052 or from

Patience Agbabi is a poet, performer and workshop facilitator. She was born in London in 1965 to Nigerian parents and spent her teenage years living in North Wales. She was educated at Oxford University and has appeared at numerous diverse venues in the UK and abroad over the last 12 years. She currently lives in Gravesend, Kent and is working on a modern remake of the Canterbury Tales, Canterbury Remix.

R.A.W., her groundbreaking debut collection of poetry, was published in 1995, and won the 1997 Excelle Literary Award. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry and IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain. In 2004 she was named as one of the Poetry Society’s ‘Next Generation’ poets.

Bloodshot Monochrome is a glorious poetic take on all things black, white and read. Reinventing the sonnet, Patience Agbabi shines her euphoric, musical lines on everything from growing up to growing old, from Northern Soul to contract killers, from the retro to the brand new. Agbabi’s verse is sublimely lyrical and spiked with gleeful humour.

Patience Agbabi has read at key literature festivals such as Edinburgh Book Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival; and music festivals including Glastonbury Festival and Soho Jazz Festival. She has also worked extensively for The British Council, delivering her work in a range of venues from university lecture theatres to a metro station, in countries including Namibia, 1999, the Czech Republic, 2000, Zimbabwe and Germany, 2001, and Switzerland, 2002.

INSPIRE: Colin Grant, Sharon Otoo, Samson Kambalu: Nightingale Theatre, 6 October

On Saturday 6 October, we present three authors from African/Caribbean heritage who will read extracts from their books that look at family and life from a post European perspective.

Malawai-born Samson Kambalu, a fine artist and ethnomusicologist whose memoir The Jive Talker: How To Get a British Passport (Jonathan Cape) reflects on his Malawi past.

An African memoir unlike any other I have read and the reason is this – it is absolutely hilarious and I was crying with laughter… this is a book filled with wonder, humour and hope. It is a magnificent achievement.

Aminatta Forna, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH about Samson Kambalu

Jamaican-British Colin Grant, Brighton-based historian and BBC radio producer whose memoir Bagseye at the Wheel (Jonathan Cape) focuses on his father and family in Luton circa 1970.

A tough and tender memoir of growing up in the 70s. It’s a quietly unforgettable book about innocence and experience, about memory and cruelty – and the cruelty of memory.

The Guardian on Colin Grant’s Bagseye at the Wheel

Debut novelist Ghanian-British Sharon Otoo who lives in Berlin, but previously lived in Brighton will read from her debut novella the things i am thinking while smiling politely (edition assemblage), which was published in Feburary 2012 in German and English.

Reading this brings flashes of recognition: how it is to be loved and overlooked, to be thought exotic and scorned, to be adored and ignored- all at the same time. Sharon Otoo strings us along, spellbound, with fragments of language that fill us with the thought: this is how the heart breaks.

Poet Fawzia Kane, Tantie Diablesse (Waterloo Press) about Sharon Otoo

7.30-9pm (doors open at 7pm), Nightingale Theatre, 29-30 Surrey Street  City Centre BN1 3PA. Tickets £7 advance from

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

We announce our 2012/13 programme for Brighton, East Sussex and West Sussex – advance tickets now on sale

Hi everyone

We’re pleased to finally show your our 2012/13 Programme, which is crammed full of literature, writing workshops for all ages and a special live lit residency for Sussex writers – read on for more details. This year’s programme once again pulls together the UK’s most talented Black and ethnic minority writers, poets, playwrights and authors –  locally sourced and from across the country. We also have a few extra events taking place in November and February 2013, so keep in touch.

The 2012/13 programme is kindly supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Tickets from unless otherwise stated. To enquire about concessions/ alternative payment methods, please contact our production team on

Photos from Literary Salon, 28 October 2011

Irene Mensah
Irene Mensah & Jenny Aburra

The final literary event for this month was the BHM literary salon.

It was scheduled to take place in the Regency Townhouse, but due to unforseeable non-entry (!), I had a mad rush to source another venue. Fortunately, the kind manager at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, who I’d worked with previously on Flash Lit fiction, was able to help us out at the last minue.

For the next two hours,  I was trying to phone everyone, put messages up on Facebook and asking friends to pass on the message.

It was a rainy cold night, but we had a good crowd turn up in the bar, which we decorated with African prints, red, gold, black  and green bunting, and amazing Caribbean and Asian vegan canapes from Titbits Catering, which went down really well.

Wondering why all the photos are taken in a car park? Noise from the downstairs club meant it was nearly impossible to hear readings – this was something we’d learned from our Countdown night on the 14th. Akila, who kindly volunteered to warm up the audience with her delicious poetry, said, ‘Why not do it outside?’

The spontaneous suggestion sparked a venue that was both novel and atmospheric, feeling like a preview to White Night with its site-specific edge.

Akila started the night out with her famous mango poem and a new work.

Then we had Irene Mensah & Jenny Aburra doing a ‘double act.’

Lastly we had Fawzia Kane, reading from her poetry collection coming out on Waterloo Press.

The final reading for the night was a poem from an audience member inspired by the evening. We are publishing for your delection here (see end).

What a great night, enjoyed by all.

Change your venue
Hold your own
Change your setting
Hold your tone

Raise your voices
Stand your ground
Speak up, we’re not
Stood down

Car park
Bar talk
Frog bar
Long walk

Night air
Right here
I hear
Crystal clear

With Akila’s artistry
And guerrilla poetry
Forget the Regency and
Write your Legacy


Fawzia Kane