Hammersmith & Fulham’s first ever BAME indie writers event coming on Sunday

The Hammersmith and Fulham Writers’ Festival aims to inspire and encourage those from marginalised backgrounds to pursue a career in the creative industries.

A new writers’ event for both children and adults, the Hammersmith and Fulham Writers’ Festival will be piloted at the Bush Theatre and Shepherds Bush Library in Hammersmith and Fulham on Sunday 22 August.

The event, which is the first of its kind in the borough, has been hailed by acclaimed poet Benjamin Zephaniah and backed by the Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

It will be a platform for budding creatives from marginalised backgrounds to network and learn from one another.

Benjamin Zephaniah said: “The Hammersmith and Fulham Writers’ Festival has come to bring joy to the world. The festival is a great space for writers and readers to engage with each other, and a great place for us to open up.

“I wish all the participants the best as they spread their creative love.”

ONE TO WATCH: The H&F Writers Festival is being piloted this year and will return next year bigger and better.

The event will be hosted at Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush, and will include creative writing workshops, book reviews, an awards ceremony for a story competition and a panel of authors who will be offering invaluable advice.

Rasheda Malcolm, founder of the H&F festival, author, and member of the Women in Literature, Development and Empowerment network said: “The idea came to me during lockdown in October 2020 – I was running creative writing classes online, and it attracted a lot of people interested in writing from our local area.

“The first writers workshop I did was with survivors of domestic abuse. They were vulnerable, locked at home, scared… some of them still lived with the perpetrator. They were keen to keep sane and wanted to use writing as a medium.

“It was the easiest thing to get them to pen their traumas, pen their depression, pen whatever it was they were going through.

“But as an author myself, I realised that every time a writer’s event is on, I have to travel to it. We don’t have one locally.”

Best-selling author Dorothy Koomson and several authors of the #Twentyin2020 publishing campaign by the black-owned publisher Jacaranda Books will be attending to share their journey and meet guests.

The #Twentyin2020 campaign spearheaded the push for diverse voices by publishing 20 titles by 20 Black British writers in one year – aiming to normalise black writing in an industry where they are heavily underrepresented.

Jacaranda’s publishing campaign came after the UK publishing industry was slammed in 2015 in a scathing report commissioned by the writer development agency, Spread The Word.

The Writing the Future report found that the publishing industry’s poor commitment to diversity put the industry at risk of becoming irrelevant to the younger generation of people from Black, Asian and mixed heritages, who are to form a “considerable economic force in the UK.”

Stella Oni, a #Twentyin2020 author of crime fiction who created the first black female police detective character in UK fiction said: “I read a lot of crime fiction, and they were all by white women and white men… there were no black authors.

“It never occurred to me that I could be a writer because you have to see a reflection of yourself in the world, and I couldn’t see a reflection of me.

“I felt like an imposter. I used to question myself and think, how dare you want to be in this business.

“I’m happy that I’ve done it because for any young person now who wants to write crime fiction, the barrier is broken. There’s now a template – they can see someone.”

Oni and Malcolm will be sharing their creative journey alongside Kabir Kareem-Bello, Njambi McGrath and Esua Goldsmith in the 12:10-1pm Authors’ Journeys slot.

No booking is required for the children’s event at Shepherds Bush Library, but people interested in the adults and young adults festival are advised to register their attendance, free of charge, here.

Both venues are wheelchair accessible.

To find out more, visit the H&F Writers’ Festival website here.


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