Meet the six international writers who will perform at the Read My World 2023 Festival!
Travis Alabanza is an award winning writer, performer and theatre maker. Their writing has appeared in the BBC, Guardian, Vice, Gal-Dem and previously had a fortnightly column in the metro. Their performance BURGERZ won the Total Theatre Award in 2019. They wrote the five star (The Guardian) hit play Sound of the Underground, and their latest book, None of the Above (Canongate, 2022) was selected as Waterstones Best Book of 2022: Politics.
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Photo: Faith Aylward
Logan February is a multidisciplinary Nigerian poet. Author of In the Nude (Ouida Poetry, 2019) and three chapbooks of poetry, their writing has appeared in Berlin Quarterly, jubilat, Washington Square Review, Palette Poetry, The Poetry Project’s The Recluse, and more, including Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and Yoruba translations. A Cave Canem fellow, recipient of the 2020 Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature, and scholar of the 2020 Un_Masking Difference web residency at Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, February resides in Indiana. They are an MFA candidate at Purdue University and the Editor-in-Chief of Sycamore Review.
Photo: Jack Little
Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean literary & sound artist based in London, author of Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018), & experiments with sound/text performance as MA.MOYO. Her work has been featured on various platforms including The White Review, NTS, Boiler Room & BBC Radio. She’s held residencies with Triangle-Asterides France, Cove Park, Serpentine Galleries and ICA London. Belinda’s the co-founder of literary arts platform, BORN::FREE.
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Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Her debut novel My Name Is Leon was an international bestseller, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2017. In 2022 it was adapted for television by the BBC. Her second novel, The Trick to Time, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize and her young adult novel Becoming Dinah was shortlisted for the Carnegie CLIP Award 2020.
A collection of short stories, Supporting Cast was published in 2020. An anthology of working-class memoir, Common People was crowdfunded and edited by Kit in 2019. Kit founded her own TV production company, Portopia Productions and the Big Book Weekend, a free digital literary festival in 2020 and was named the FutureBook Person of the Year 2019. Kit is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor and Writer in Residence at Leicester University. Her memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes was published in August 2022.
Photo: Paul Crowther
Helon Habila is a Nigerian writer and teaches creative writing at George Mason University in Virginia. He studied in Nigeria and the UK. He is the author of four novels: Waiting for an Angel (Penguin/Random House, 2002), Measuring Time (Penguin Random House, 2007), Oil on Water (Penguin Random House, 2011), and the latest Travelers (Penguin Random House 2019), about African migrants in Europe. He is the author of the nonfiction book, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria (Penguin/Random House, 2016) and editor of the Granta Book of African Short Story (Granta, 2013). He is a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review. His reviews, essays and short stories have been published in many journals and magazines including Granta, Guernica, WSJ, VQR, the New York Times and the UK Guardian. His many awards include the Caine Prize, the Virginia Library Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Prize, and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction. He divides his time between Nigeria and Virginia where he lives with his family.
Wana Udobang is a writer, poet, performer, curator and storyteller. She released three spoken word albums titled Dirty Laundry, In Memory of Forgetting and Transcendence. Her work as a performer has taken her across Africa, Europe and the US, along with working on commissions for Edinburgh International Festival, Bristol Festival and Deutsches Museum and Fonds SozioKultur. Some of the themes in her work explore womanhood, memory, healing, joy and re-imagination.
Wana has a background in journalism working with the Guardian, Aljazeera, CNN, and Observer as well as producing and presenting documentaries for BBC Radio4 and BBC World Service. She is scriptwriter for the award winning podcast Adventures from the bedrooms of African women. Her work in film includes the documentaries Sensitive Skin, Warriors and Nylon. Her curatorial projects include “Strip” for Rele gallery and “Reclaiming the tongue” a video series exploring history, geography and memory through food. Wana runs The Comfort Food poetry workshop which uses memories around food as a conduit to create new poems. She curates Culture Diaries; an archival project which uses multi-platform storytelling to document African artists. In 2022, she showed her first solo multimedia project Dirty Laundry, an immersive installation of poems printed on linen hanging from laundry lines. She was awarded the inaugural Ama Ata Aidoo Fellowship at Northwestern University.
Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian author, poet, and the founder of the Book Buzz Foundation and publisher at Ouida Books. Her novel “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” has won awards, was successfully stages as a play and will soon be released as a Netflix original. She has also founded the Ake Arts & Book Festival and initiated the Kaduna Book & Arts Festival. In 2022, when celebrating ten years of Ake Arts & Books Festival, she invited festival directors from all over the world to Lagos in the context of GAOLF (Global Association of Literary Festivals).
Azieb Pool is CEO and Artistic Director of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London and founder of the Tottenham Literature Festival. Previously Senior Programmer for Contemporary Culture at the Southbank Centre in London and chief programmer of the WOW Women of the World festival. Azieb is a well-known journalist, author of two books, trustee of LIFT, and artistic advisor to the Manchester International Festival. Her first book, My Fathers’ Daughter, was reprinted in 2022 as part of Black Britain Writing Back series.