Contact Theatre are hosting the seventh Black and Asian Writers Conference and Festival, which is pipped to be the biggest yet. Instead of opposing the segregation of race being a defining division, the differences between cultures are being celebrated with the festival that aims to unearth what drives the pen behind the narratives. Major writers including Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, Malika Booker, Fred D'Aguiar, Sujata Bhatt, Bali Rai, Samuel Shimon, Dorothea Smartt, and Thomas Glave will be participating as well as Penguin publishers.
The organisers have arranged young writers' sessions, three book launches, information stalls just in case you'd like a bit of advice. There is no doubt that your culture informs your writing, thus the writers festival recognises how integral your upbringing, your differences from those around you are aspects to be explored, enjoyed, and mostly shared with others.
An array of writers are on their way to global success with a number of poignant novels, under their belts already. Esteemed novelist Zadie Smith notably attended a handful of these festivals which are as much a celebration of culture and diversity, as they are a conference to mingle with like-minded people. Smith's 'White teeth' and Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' catapulted them both into the writer stratosphere with narratives that touch on important subjects, previously hiding in the water. Race, age, gender, and class are all aspects with which people are sadly defined, and while a conference of this nature will not be able to tackle each division, it is acknowledging that in the 21st century they do exist, and discussing them is merely a start in breaking down such barriers.
The festival will be a hubbub of creative minds mingling, open eyes seeing and searching for what you 'do'. Slam Champion Stephanie Dogfoot, J P Cooper, the Speakeasy band, and Young Identity will be there, sharing their success and inviting an audience. If you're a budding writer and you fall into the ethnic backgrounds you may want to attend. If nothing else you'll learn that you're not the only one who has a reaction to life in 2013, who has a history, and whose therapy is writing.
It excites me that such a festival is taking place. Contact theatre is known on the media circuit as being the location for events celebrating differences are culture. Undispusted champions of triumphing the now, the future, and any progressive movements the conference is going to be full of a talented bunch, and I'm itching to go.